The Worst Transactions of the 2014 Off-Season

On Wednsesday, I gave my thoughts on the 10 moves from this past off-season that I liked the most. Today, we’ll look at the other side, and cover the 10 moves that most made me scratch my head.

10. Phillies sign Marlon Byrd.
Cost: Two years, $16 million.

$8 million per year for a guy coming off a +4 WAR season would ordinarily have no shot at ending up on any kind of list of the winter’s worst moves, especially given the short term of the deal and the limited risk that the overall expenditure implies. That said, it isn’t often that a guy goes from -1.0 WAR and a PED suspension at age-35 to +4 WAR at age-36, and so the question is simply how much should we put into one excellent season versus what Byrd had done previously. We had over 4,000 plate appearances showing Byrd to be an average hitter, and now we have 600 where he’s been an excellent hitter. Maybe he found a late career miracle cure and is going to ride his new found success to glory, but more likely, he’s going to go back to being Marlon Byrd, and the Phillies are going to remember why they gave up on him a decade ago.

9. Yankees sign Carlos Beltran.
Cost: Three years, $45 million.

Beltran is still a really good hitter, and in 2014, he’ll probably earn his $15 million paycheck, even if he’s now more of a DH than a regular OF. But Beltran is going to be 37, and it won’t be long until he’s exclusively a DH, and the bat isn’t so good that he can afford to slip much and still be an impact player without adding anything in the field. And his age, slippage has to be expected, and $15 million for a 38 or 39 year old Beltran probably isn’t going to look very good. On a one or two year deal, this could have made sense, but for $45 million over three years, the Yankees could have done better.

8. Colorado acquires Brandon Barnes and Jordan Lyles.
Cost: Dexter Fowler.

I get that the Rockies have outfield depth, and wanted to give guys like Corey Dickerson and Charlie Blackmon a shot, and Fowler’s getting expensive enough in arbitration where he’s not some kind of massive bargain anymore. However, he’s still a quality player, in the prime of his career, and the Rockies basically gave him to the Astros in order to free up enough room in the budget to sign Justin Morneau, who is older, worse, and not really much cheaper. Moving Michael Cuddyer to first base would have freed up playing time for Dickerson or Blackmon in the same way that trading Fowler did, and the team would have been better off for it. Lyles and Barnes are unlikely to ever make any real contribution in Colorado, and it’s hard to see this series of moves actually paying off for the Rockies.

7. Diamondbacks sign Bronson Arroyo.
Cost: Two years, $23 million.

Bronson Arroyo is unoffensive. He’s not bad, and when he keeps the ball in the ballpark, he can even look deceptively effective. But the reality is that Arroyo turns 37 in a week, gets destroyed by left-handed batters, and his entire success is based on walking the tightrope of weak contact. If he doesn’t hit his spots perfectly, 2011 happens, and he threatens the all time record for home runs allowed in a season. Arroyo is an okay back-end starter, but there’s no good reason to spend $12 million per year on okay back end starters, especially for an organization with a limited payroll and younger kids who project to be nearly as good. Arroyo’s biggest selling point is his durability, but 200 mediocre innings just aren’t that valuable.

6. Diamondbacks acquire Addison Reed.
Cost: Matt Davidson.

I don’t mean to pick on the Diamondbacks, but I actually like this trade even less than I like the Arroyo deal, and I don’t think I hid the fact that I didn’t really like that deal too much. It’s not that Addison Reed is bad, because he’s not. He’s fine, and he’ll be a good enough closer for Arizona. But they already had J.J. Putz and David Hernandez, who also would have been good enough closers, and the D’Backs didn’t need a third good-not-great right-handed reliever enough to justify trading a player with some legitimate value. Even if they didn’t see Davidson as a long term piece to build around given their roster and his defensive skills, he’s still a property of some real value; Marc Hulet ranked him #62 on his Top 100, while Baseball America came in at #72. This isn’t a guy to just give away for a minor bullpen upgrade. To make things worse, Reed has racked up a ton of saves in his time in Chicago, and is going to be quite expensive to retain in his arbitration years, so this probably ends up being Davidson for a few years of Reed’s services before he gets non-tendered. And that’s not a good swap.

5. Mets sign Curtis Granderson.
Cost: Four years, $60 million.

I get that the Mets offense was lousy last year, and Granderson makes it less lousy, but for $60 million, you have to get more than what Granderson projects to give over the next four years. Both ZIPS and Steamer see him as roughly a +2 to +3 WAR player for 2014, and the reality is that left-handed hitting outfielders of similar value were signing for a fraction of what Granderson cost the Mets. He may be marginally better than David Murphy (2/$12m), David DeJesus (2/$11M), or Nate McLouth (2/$11M), but there’s no way the gap is worth $10 million per year, plus an extra two years committed for ages 35 and 36. Granderson is getting paid like an impact player, but he just isn’t one, and the Mets could have gotten 90% of the production for 15% of the cost.

4. Yankees sign Masahiro Tanaka.
Cost: Four years, $108 million, plus player option for another 3/$67M.

I think Masahiro Tanaka is probably going to be very good. This isn’t about being skeptical of his abilities, or his prior workload, or anything relating to Tanaka, really. This is all about the contract, and specifically, the opt-out. While Tanaka’s deal is widely reported as $155 million over seven years, the opt-out means that it’s really a contract for $88 million over four years, not including the $20 million posting fee, with some chance that the Yankees will have to pay Tanaka an additional $67 million if he goes bust. Essentially, the Yankees paid $27 million per year for the next four years if Tanaka is good, and if things don’t break in their favor, they pay a $67 million tax to boot. If they only wanted a four year commitment, they could have signed any two of the domestic free agents for the same amount that they paid to get Tanaka, upgrading their roster in a very similar manner while taking a tiny fraction of the risk. Without the opt-out, at least this would have had a chance of working for NYY. With the opt-out, the deal is all downside.

3. Rangers sign Shin-Soo Choo.
Cost: Seven years, $130 million.

$130 million isn’t superstar money anymore, but it should buy a better overall player than Shin-Soo Choo. The things he does well, he does very well, and they certainly have value, but he’s not a good fielder, he doesn’t hit left-handed pitching, and he doesn’t even have that much power for a guy whose value is almost entirely tied up in his bat. The total package is an above average non-star, and he probably was worth something closer to Curtis Granderson’s contract than the one he actually got. I thought the Giants overpaid for Hunter Pence, but he looks like the steal of the century compared to Choo’s deal with Texas. For the next year or two, Choo will be worth $20+ million per year, but the back end of this contract is going to be a disaster, and there just isn’t that much value at the front end; certainly not enough to make this contract anything but a mistake.

2. Mariners sign Robinson Cano.
Cost: 10 years, $240 million.

There’s a decent chance that, over the life of this contract, Cano actually is a $200 million player, and in terms of total wasted dollars, $4 million per year for a decade isn’t actually a huge mistake. If Cano had signed this same deal with another team, it probably wouldn’t have ranked this highly, but unfortunately for the Mariners, they are one of the organizations with the least to gain from signing the winter’s best free agent. For starters, they still aren’t particularly good even with him on board, so they’re unlikely to take advantage of the first few years of the deal where he’s likely to be worth his salary. Additionally, his signing displaced Nick Franklin, leaving one of the team’s better young players without a future in the organization. The Mariners needed a lot of things this winter, but a second baseman wasn’t one of them, and the upgrade they got from replacing Franklin with Cano — and whatever lesser thing they get for Franklin in trade — simply wasn’t the best use of their $240 million. By the time the Mariners are ready to win, Cano’s contract is likely to be an anchor, and the kind of big splash that looks regrettable not too long after the ink dries.

1. Tigers acquire Robbie Ray, Steve Lombardozzi, and Ian Krol.
Cost: Doug Fister.

There are basically two options here:

1. Everyone is wrong about Robbie Ray. The Tigers actually just acquired one of the best young left-handed pitching prospects in the game, the kind of guy who could step into their rotation in 2015 and provide years of quality innings before he ever makes any kind of real money.

2. Dave Dombrowski screwed up. Because if Robbie Ray isn’t a quality, high-end pitching prospect, the Tigers sold a pitcher as good or better than Masahiro Tanaka, who will make less than $20 million over the next two years, for the kind of return that a team should expect when trading a decent role player.

Pitching prospects are hard to predict, and there are plenty of scenarios where it turns out that #1 is actually true, and this deal works out for the Tigers. If Ray turns into something, swapping two years of Fister for six years of a good young arm won’t look like a bad idea at all, especially given the Tigers current pitching depth. But the consensus among other teams and prospect experts is that Ray is not that kind of prospect, and that this is the most lopsided trade we’ve seen in years. For two bargain years of Doug Fister, the Tigers should have gotten a really strong return, and very few people think this qualifies. Maybe Ray will prove everyone wrong. Or maybe a good GM just whiffed.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


294 Responses to “The Worst Transactions of the 2014 Off-Season”

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  1. Tim says:

    Kendrys Morales declining the QO is worse than several of these.

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  2. j6takish says:

    Dave Dombrowski is really good at trading. He is usually the guy who makes other GM’s the subject of “worst transaction” posts. I thought the Fister trade was bizarre when it happened….but there almost has to be more to it right? This doesn’t seem like a Dombrowski trade and I guess I’m trying to justify it by assuming he all knows something that we don’t

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    • Bill says:

      This is what bugs me most about the Fister trade. Dombrowski has an excellent trade record. The first Fister trade was a steal, the Scherzer trade was highway robbery, the Cabrera trade was great, the Fielder trade was good – I can’t find a bad trade that he’s made. So, why did he do this? If Dayton Moore or Jack Z made this trade, I would understand. They have trouble in this department. I half expect Fister’s arm to fall off or we find out he’s the reason for Detroit’s high murder rate or something. Maybe he knows something we don’t? I didn’t understand the Pineda trade at first either until the Yankees found he was damaged goods.

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      • Dave K says:

        The guy is good, but it isn’t like every trade he’s made has worked out: Renteria for Jurrjens comes to mind. Jurrjens pitched above his abilities but Renteria was a wreck. Dombrowski’s extension to Dontrelle Willis also blew up in his face (along w/ a few other extensions).

        Dombrowski does have a good record and he may come out on top, but it’s very possible he made a mistake here. He’s good, but not perfect.

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        • Yehuda says:

          I do not think that Dombrowski liked Fister’s ERA of the 1st, 4th. and the 5th innings last season.

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      • Valuearb says:

        The Diamondbacks win the Scherzer deal if Kennedy/Hudson don’t get their arms put through the Gibson Gritty Arm Shredder of Death.

        So I guess the real winner of the deal was Scherzer.

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        • Larry says:

          Well, I’m not so sure Hudson’s problem was how Gibson used him. Kennedy hasn’t even lost any velocity on his fastball, he just lost his accuracy. It should be interesting how he fares in San Diego with a former pitcher/pitching coach for a manager and a ballpark so big the locals call it “Petco National Park” (it’s definitely smaller than Yellowstone).

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    • David says:

      The problem with that is that if you’re the only GM that thinks Robbie Ray is a future ace then you can get him for a lot less than Doug Fister.

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      • TangoAlphaLima says:

        A very valid point.

        You always hear this kind of logic in the NFL Draft as well. “Well, most people may have had Player A graded as a third round pick, but we felt he had second round value.” If you’re right, and you’re smarter than everyone else, that’s great. But you still screwed up because you potentially could have gotten Player B in the second round, who everyone had rated with that kind of value, and still picked Player A in the third round because he would have still been on the board.

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        • Andrew says:

          that logic doesn’t apply when the player is already owned by another team, as opposed to being draft eligible. If the team owning him values him highly, then the Tigers paid what they had to…

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        • RC says:

          ” But you still screwed up because you potentially could have gotten Player B in the second round,”

          That logic doesn’t really apply, because you have no way to know what players are actually valued at. You have what the talking heads value the player at, but the talking heads don’t know anything close to what the teams actually know.

          IE, if a player is a 2nd round talent, all it takes is one other team to think hes a second rounder, and you lose him – the guys on TV may have some idea of how 5 or 6 teams value him, but the rest don’t.

          In addition, talent drops off enough that the value saved waiting a round may not be nearly enough payoff to risk missing the guy.

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        • vivalajeter says:

          What RC said is exactly right, and most people have experienced it in Fantasy Baseball drafts. It’s the 8th round and you have an under the radar player at the top of your list, but you decide not to draft him because Yahoo! ranks him in the 13th round, and that’s where he’s been going in average drafts. You decide to take someone you don’t value as much, simply because you know he won’t be there in the next round. 30 seconds after you click ‘Draft Player’, you see that the next guy in line drafted the player you originally wanted, so you’re stuck with a lesser player.

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        • dave says:

          That doesn’t sound too scientific, vivalajeter…

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    • Eric Lutz says:

      Tiger fan since my childhood, followed the team faithfully. Now that I am in Maryland the last six years, I follow the Nats and Orioles AND Tigers faithfully. I am going to go with that this trade is NOT as bad as it seems on the surface. Two reasons, 1) it fills some Tiger needs. We are really going to like Krol and the bullpen help he provides. Nats know what they are doing in terms of pitching and this guy is good, just needs a chance to show it in full. 2) Steve Lombardozzi is actually pretty great and I think the Nats will regret trading him and misused him. When this guy plays back to back games he can hit. He needs consistent playing time and Nats cut that and cut his confidence, all over the wrong move, giving Danny Espinosa chance after chance to resurface. The guy is baked. A nasty shoulder injury and wrist injury. He career average is .230, he batted .158 with the Nats, sent to the minors for 75 games at a .216 clip and no OBP. He is Adam Dunn without any pop. I am telling you though, Lombo may be a singles hitter, but he can hit if you give him regular playing time to get in the grove AND he is very versatile, OF/2B. The Tigs will like him and his work ethic. I do not think this trade is as bad as people think.

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      • chuckb says:

        Steve Lombardozzi is pretty great? There is no world in which that is even remotely true. There’s a reason that the Nats never played him in back-to-back games. It’s that he’s not very good at baseball. He’s a somewhat useful reserve infielder and absolutely nothing more than that. Those guys are about as fungible as they come.

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      • One Problem... says:

        Lombardozzi won’t be getting regular playing time in Detroit either.

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      • John C. says:

        Lombo has a cult following in DC, but even as a Nats fan I never understood it. He is about the most aggressive crappy hitter that I’ve ever seen. Yeah, he doesn’t whiff as much as Espinosa – but he doesn’t hit the ball very hard, either. And his defense is terrible in the OF, and in the infield his arm isn’t strong enough to play on the left side. Even at second base he has an annoying tendancy to wind up to throw, and it’s cost the Nats outs a couple of times.

        His hands are pretty good, I guess. But overall he’s a poor man’s David Eckstein … and David Eckstein wasn’t all that good.

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    • This exactly. You have to assume Dombrowski know something we don’t. Fister is hurt. Or signing Cabrera/Scherzer is more important than anything Fister can contribute.

      If Fister pitches 45 innings and spends time on the DL, we all say ‘Oh, I see now.’ Hindsight could shed a lot of light on this.

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      • vivalajeter says:

        Not true. If Fister pitches 45 innings and spends time on the DL, most will say “That’s just bad luck – just because it didn’t turn out well, it doesn’t mean the process was bad!”.

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      • Kevin says:

        This is my FAVORITE defense of the Fister trade: speculative hindsight. And I’ve seen it a bunch. Hindsight is terrible argument when you’re actually using it in hindsight. I just can’t wrap my head around the homerism that forces some to appeal to hindsight that might occur in the future.

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      • emdash says:

        If he pitches 45 innings it’d seems like Detroit knowingly passed off an injured player as healthy, which would look pretty bad for them. Though as a Nats fan, I have half-suspected that Fister was traded here because they have the rare medical staff that would’ve totally missed a serious injury.

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        • larry says:

          dombroski to the nats: “no, its cool, I promise. He doesnt both legs to pitch. just give me 3 mlb ready guys and you can have em, 1 leg and all.”

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      • MLB Rainmaker says:

        I think that Dombrowksi “knows something we don’t” is a logical fallacy. Or at least off base — what Dombrowski knows that we don’t is that his team had weaknesses in 2013; they had a bad D (from two pure hitters at the corners) and weak bullpen (1 of 7 teams with ERA above 4)

        First, he moved Fielder, to give him cash to afford Scherzer, allow him to get rid of Miguel’s terrible D at 3B, and bring in a legit 2B for once.

        Then he moves Fister, not because he wanted to move Fister, but he’s expendable. While #2 on most teams, he’s a #4 on DET and DET has Porcello and Smyly to backfill. The deal gives him a cheap bench utility guy to backup his fragile new 2B, and a bullpen arm, since his only LHP relieve is Phil Coke and his 5.40 ERA. And oh by the way, frees up more salary to pay Joe Nathan.

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      • Eric Feczko says:

        Again, whether Dombrowski knew something we did not has no bearing on the trade. If the general perception around the league is that Fister is an excellent pitcher, than the market for Fister should be greater than what Dombrowski got.

        The only way you can justify this trade is if you assume that most teams thought Fister will pitch poorly (or become injured, etc.), AND that Dombrowski was certain that Fister would underperform his 2 yr/20mil contract.

        Such assumptions are pretty unreasonable, therefore, the trade is a head scratcher. Even if Fister underperforms a 2 yr/20 mil contract, the trade makes no sense in its current form.

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        • MKB says:

          Where are you getting this 2/$20M contract from? Fister is still arbitration eligible through 2015, and he just signed for 1/$7.2M.

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        • Eric Feczko says:

          @MKB:

          At the time of my post, I was not aware that he had signed a 7.2 mil contract for one year. Given his performance, I had assumed that he would get about 20 mil(8 this year/ 12 next year) over the next two years.

          In any case, such a bargain only further underscores the lunacy of this trade.

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    • Alex says:

      I think one of the other aspects of this trade was its effect on the bullpen. Smyly moving to a starter role and Dombrowski’s continued lack of interest in putting together a decent pen is really going to be a problem. Phil Coke, Joba, and Rondon are going to be depended on for way too many innings even though there were completely affordable pieces on the market.

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  3. RonnyRocket says:

    Sorry, Mr. Cameron, but you will someday have to accept that Arroyo outperforms his FIP.

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    • RC says:

      ” Arroyo’s biggest selling point is his durability, but 200 mediocre innings just aren’t that valuable.”

      Agree.

      He was terrible in 2011, but the last two year’s he’s been worth 3 WAR/year.

      At the current value of $/WAR, he needs to basically create about 3WAR total over the next year to be worth the contract. I think there’s almost no way that this contract doesn’t provide excess value.

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      • RC says:

        Don’t know why I quoted Cameron there, I’m agreeing with RonnyRocket.

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        • leeroy says:

          Fun fact: In the ML, Arroyo allowed most HR off curve balls last season (9), 2nd most on sinkers (14), and 2nd most on change ups (8).

          Not sure what it says about FIP and ERA, but be ready for some dingers. Lots of dingers.

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        • Clark Griffith says:

          “The fans like to see home runs, and we have assembled a pitching staff for their enjoyment.”

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        • RC says:

          Leeroy, I’d bet Arroyo threw more Sinkers, Curve Balls, and changeups than almost anyone in the league.

          These sorts of statistics aren’t surprising at all for a slightly better than average guy who will consistently give you 200+ innings.

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      • Steve says:

        The question is for how long will he continue to do this. A follow-up question is how effective will he be at Chase? Answers: Not long and definitely not. This was a horrendous deal for the D-Backs. Surprised I didn’t see the Trumbo deal on here. Re-acquiring Jason Kubel for Skaggs was just atrocious. Towers is nothing short of insane. Sorry, AZ fans.

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        • LaLoosh says:

          The Jason Kubel comment requires an explanation.

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        • Steve says:

          Take a look at year 2012 for both players

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        • dragnalus says:

          “A follow-up question is how effective will he be at Chase?”

          To be fair, GABP HR Park Factor is at 112 and Chase is at 103. Unless Arroyo is soley responsible for that difference, he should at least be equal to his Reds days, if not slightly less awful, right?

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        • steve says:

          @dragnalus – he’ll be a year older as well.

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        • Valuearb says:

          Trumbo is better and cheaper than Kubel so Towers clearly learned his lesson. He only gave up 5-6 cheap years of control over a guy who will likely be a pretty good starring pitcher, so what’s the problem? Every time we trade a Parker/Bauer/Skaggs he just signs another Arroyo/McCarthy, what could go wrong?

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          …you know he spent the last several years at Cincinatti, right?

          Of course you don’t.

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        • Iron says:

          I wonder if Cincinnati is the most frequently misspelled city in the US.

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          Oh, gross. You’re right.

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      • Lex Logan says:

        Arroyo had mono in 2011. Illness is a risk for any pitcher — in Arizona he might even contract valley fever like Johnny Bench. But basically you can ignore 2011, and Arroyo may be more effective away from GABP. Still looks like an overpay to me.

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        • RC says:

          The guy should produce roughly 4-6 WAR over the two years. The value of that is somewhere between 24M-42M (WAR at $6-7M).

          They’re paying him $23M.

          There’s very little chance of this being an overpay.

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    • Dan Ugglas Forearm says:

      Okay…. even if he does, his career 4.19 ERA isn’t much more impressive. You’re just going to have to accept that Arroyo is not a good pitcher. Arroyo is firmly in Jamie Moyer territory.

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      • Trevor says:

        I think the Diamondbacks would be over the moon if Arroyo ended up in Jaime Moyer territory in his late 30s (Moyer had 3.34 ERA in 655.1 IP in his age 38-40 seasons).

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      • Cory Grimmer says:

        “Arroyo is firmly in Jamie Moyer territory.”

        Please do not associate Arroyo with someone of Moyer’s caliber. Many look at Moyer as having been average when in fact he had a pretty neat peak that lasted for more than 10 years. Moyers career WAR of 48.0 vs. Arroyo’s 23.4 tell the real story.

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        • SurprMan says:

          Moyer also pitched for 89 years.

          Moyer, age 27-36: 23.3 bWAR
          Arroyo, age 27-36: 26.7 bWAR

          Moyer then had some pretty spectacular age 38-40 seasons, but that certainly doesn’t hurt Arroyo’s case.

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        • SurprMan says:

          Let me offer a better comparison, since Arroyo had ~500 more IP during that time frame.

          Moyer, career WAR/162: 3.1
          Arroyo, career WAR/162: 2.9

          It’s close, and Moyer’s totals include his late 40′s seasons of course, but absolutely the same ‘caliber’ of pitcher.

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        • Trevor says:

          27-36 is not Moyer’s “peak.” His best ten year stretch of bWAR was 34.5 from ages 34-43, solidly better than the 26.7 bWAR of Arroyo’s best 10 years.

          So you can say Arroyo and Moyer were similar when you compare Arroyo’s last 10 to the Moyer over the same time span, but that’s extremely selective.

          “Moyer then had some pretty spectacular age 38-40 seasons, but that certainly doesn’t hurt Arroyo’s case.”

          It does hurt Moyer’s case in the comparison if you just throw that part of Moyer’s peak out. Moyer was worth just 3.4 fewer wins than Arroyo (in 500 fewer IP) over the 10 years they each played from 27-36… then Moyer just kept going and was even better for awhile.

          Chances are, Arroyo’s best years will not be after he turns 37, like Moyer’s were. I don’t see a couple of 5 win seasons in Arroyo’s immediate future. So once Arroyo’s career is over, he’s not going to look like the same caliber of pitcher as Moyer when you compare either their careers as a whole or their peaks.

          “Moyer, career WAR/162: 3.1
          Arroyo, career WAR/162: 2.9″

          Using career WAR/162 isn’t quite fair to Moyer, either, because Arroyo still hasn’t gone through his full decline, which will drag down his WAR/162. All those years Moyer pitched after he finally started to lose it in his late 40s really dragged down his WAR/162.

          Also, Arroyo never really got a chance to pitch a lot of innings for the Red Sox, before becoming a starter at 27 and pitching in his prime. Moyer really hadn’t learned how to pitch like Jamie Moyer until his 30s, and threw quite a lot of bad innings in his 20s that adversely affect the WAR/162 comparison. If Arroyo had a chance to throw more innings in his early twenties before he was a finished product, his WAR/162 would be lower.

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    • SurprMan says:

      I also agree with RonnyRocket.

      “He’s not bad, and when he keeps the ball in the ballpark, he can even look deceptively effective.”

      No, he doesn’t “look deceptively effective” he IS effective. And it’s not particularly fair to single out his 2011 season without also acknowledging that he’s been worth a solid and fairly consistent 2.7 bWAR per year over the last 10 years (2011 included).

      And yes, he’s older, but his skills aren’t the type that erode quickly with age (particularly since he doesn’t rely on velocity).

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      • Dan says:

        “And yes, he’s older, but his skills aren’t the type that erode quickly with age (particularly since he doesn’t rely on velocity).”

        I would argue that his velocity is such that he is on the edge of a precipice. If it stays the same, he’ll be his steady unspectacular self. If he loses 1 MPH, he’s a dumpster fire. The deal could work out fine–I just wouldn’t bet a second year on it, or give a vesting option for a third. Even if he is the same guy for the first year or the first two years, it is increasingly likely that he will eventually be a disaster.

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    • Thank you says:

      Yeah, bizarre and untrue words from Cameron.

      Did Arroyo and his awesome hair/goatee combo hit on Mrs. Cameron or something? Or just have to vilify AZ?

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    • NS says:

      Arroyo does outperform his FIP – except for the times when he doesn’t.

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      • RC says:

        Arroyo has consistently, significantly outperformed his FIP since becoming a Red. The only year he didn’t was 2008.

        FIP-ERA
        2006: .86
        2007: .34
        2008:-.27
        2009: .94
        2010: .83
        2011: .64
        2012: .32
        2013: .70

        The chances of that being purely random are pretty much non-existent.

        FIP is pretty consistently half a run high on him, and over 200 innings a year, thats more than a full win off, each year.

        He has his warts, and hes not elite, but hes clearly a better than average pitcher, and this deal is clearly cheaper than the performance he’ll provide is worth.

        +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • NS says:

          Nice sample. You people are the worst.

          Just to paint a picture, you clicked on his player page and scanned the numbers. You noticed his career started in 2000. You looked at his FIP and ERA each year. You noticed he didn’t outperform his FIP for six seasons in a row. Then you noticed he outperformed his FIP later on, and came back to this page to enter a comment that only included the latter data.

          Incredibly pathetic.

          Arroyo’s career started in the year 2000, not 2006. *Every single season of his career before 2006*, his FIP was better or on par with his ERA.

          Are the chances of that being purely random also non-existent? Are the chances of a pitcher producing a better ERA than FIP in exactly half of the seasons in his entire career non-existent? Are you a drooling idiot with an axe to grind but no argument?

          No, no, and absolutely.

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        • B N says:

          @NS: A pitcher outperforming their FIP for a certain % of seasons will always be possible. If you treat it dichotomously, it’s even pretty likely to be observed numerous times. However, at the point where you are at a 0.35 difference over 2000+ IP, the odds of it occurring by chance are low. Moreover, the chances of it occurring by chance become AS LIKELY as them having about a true-talent 0.5+ difference (assuming you assume even a moderate amount of symmetry). So if you are arguing that it is by chance and his true-talent FIP-ERA=0, you must also accept the equally-likely possibility that he may actually be significantly better than observed. ;)

          Of course, if some damn fool would just estimate the distribution of ERA as a function of FIP (maybe at the inning level?), we could easily put this to rest. If we had that curve, we could just calculate the null probability of seeing a particular ERA by chance, given a a particular FIP, over a certain number of innings. Until we have that, it’s just polemic.

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        • Iron says:

          Taking the most recent seven years includes a How he pitched 2007-2013 is more relevant to how he will pitch in 2014 than, say, how he pitched in 2000. very large sample of how he has pitched most recently. Many analyses focus on just the last three years, but RC went even further- out to seven- to increase sample size and establish it”s been a long trend. But its not like any of this is going to break through to NC’s sad little world.

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        • Iron says:

          That cam out garbled. Sorry for the double-post, but to reiterate:

          Taking the most recent seven years includes a very large sample of how he has pitched most recently. How he pitched 2007-2013 is more relevant to how he will pitch in 2014 than, say, how he pitched in 2000. Many analyses focus on just the last three years, but RC went even further- out to seven- to increase sample size and establish it”s been a long trend. But its not like any of this is going to break through to NC’s sad little world.

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        • NS says:

          “the odds of it occurring by chance are low”

          Low, but not nearly so low that the observation all by itself is enough to justify an assertion of some special undefined ERA skill, let alone craft a projection on that basis.

          And that’s all these people are doing. “The analysis is wrong ’cause Arroyo has ERA skill. Source: he outperforms his FIP sometimes.”

          In the absence of anything for substantial, this is just rubbish. And it’s rubbish that’s been covered before. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/a-random-walk-with-fip/

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        • NS says:

          “sad little world”

          Yeah, this is basically what you charlatans default to. You are rubbing your dicks over the idea that *someone else* is making a sample size error when you are the ones excluding massive amounts of data, e.g. the whole of pitcher performance data in modern baseball.

          You are trying to establish the existence of an ERA skill that you fail to define and your only support for it is a single pitcher. And not even a single pitcher, actually, because half of the seasons of his career he has failed to demonstrate the skill you’re so sure he has.

          And then, when your utter failures are pointed out to you, you default to “HE JUST DOESN’T GET IT LOL LOOK AT DIS LIMITED AND SPORADIC CORRELATION WITHIN A 2000 IP SUBSET OF A MILLION IP DATASET I MEAN DUH RIGHT?”

          The worst kind of morons. RBI devotees have clearer thought processes.

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        • malkusm says:

          Actually, the chance of that sequence being random is probably a whole lot higher than you think. People think “random” means something like “roughly alternating around the average”. Patterns like this do exist in random numbers – quite frequently.

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        • Bronnt says:

          While I’m not going to pose any sort of opinion on Arroyo, I think we’ve established that there are pitchers who, due to peculiarities in how they pitch, typically beat the FIP model. It’s not 100% accurate. Matt Cain is one who did it through suppression of homerun rates. Tom Glavine was another, who did it by changing his approach and (allegedly) expanding the strike zone with runners on base, leading to above-average LOB%.

          So, NS, it’s certainly not the case that people are arguing that one single pitcher is special. It’s the FIP model is not meant to be 100% true for every single pitcher, it’s predictive over the larger sample of the league. Considering what it’s meant to do, it would hardly be surprising if 1 in 50 pitchers have a skillset which worked for out-performing FIP, and another 1 in 50 have a skillset in which they under-perform compared to FIP. And it’s probably easier to find guys who underperform because they’re the ones not giving up runs, while pitchers who give up more runs than you would expect compared according FIP may not last very long.

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        • B N says:

          @NS: Clearly, I have read the random walk article and it, unfortunately, is misleading at best. Dichotomizing a continuous variable such as ERA-FIP is completely inappropriate for any meaningful analysis. It’s as dumb as analyzing poker games by only considering the fraction of hands won, while ignoring the magnitude of the winnings. A guy who outperforms his FIP by 1 run every year is obviously vastly different than a guy who outperforms it by 0.01 runs every year.

          Second, over larger samples, ERA is a better predictor of ERA than FIP is. This fact implies, almost to a certainty, that FIP suffers from systematic biasing. Or, in other words, the same guys are outperforming and underperforming their FIP. FIP is a biased estimator. Pure and simple. Due to its ability to reduce noise, it performs better over short periods, but suffers over larger samples because it omits information.

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        • RC says:

          “Arroyo’s career started in the year 2000, not 2006. *Every single season of his career before 2006*, his FIP was better or on par with his ERA. ”

          No, I picked 2006 because that’s the time he switched parks, switched teams, switched leagues, and switched pitching coaches.

          There’s almost no reason to believe that the years prior to 2006 are relevant, as there’s no reason to believe that Bronson Arroyo has the same skillset that he had prior to that point. There’s basically no chance that the drastic change when he went to the Reds is random.

          10+ year old stats are meaningless when we’re trying to predict player performance.

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      • Cool Lester Smooth says:

        so, what times are those?

        I’ll wait!

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        • NS says:

          You could have just looked it up yourself.

          The answer is “virtually every season of his career (6 consecutive seasons) before moving to Cincinnati, and then again in 2008 in Cincinnati”. In other words, in literally half of the seasons of his career he has no outperformed his FIP.

          But no, go ahead and jack yourselves off over Arroyo proving something about FIP, or demonstrating “ERA skill” without any measure of evidence whatsoever beyond “I seen a correlation for awhile!”

          You fucks are worse than the people who argue about “clutch skill”, because you actually maintain the pretense that you know left from right statistically.

          -19 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Jay says:

          NS being wrong again and throwing a tantrum about it. Surprise.

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        • Eric Feczko says:

          NS, you are being hypocritical in this thread. You claim that arroyo outperformed his FIP in half of his seasons, and accuse others of cherry picking the data. Yet you are guilty of such cherry picking (you are also incorrect that Arroyo underperformed FIP in his first six seasons; he underperformed in four of his first six, but whatever, that’s not the point).

          While its true that Arroyo started his career in 2000, he did not pitch more than 100 innings until 2004. I don’t see any reason to equate the first four years of his career with the others, given the low sample sizes of those years.

          But you’re right, let’s take into account his entire career. In this case he has a 4.19 ERA +/- 0.9, a 4.54 FIP +/-0.8. There is a medium-level of difference between these points (Cohen’s d = 0.38), and that’s without taking into account the paired relationship. Even taking into account the paired relationship (-.185 ERA-FIP +/- 0.59), the effect size is still medium (d = 0.3).

          I think you are taking FIP measures too religiously, and that is blinding you to your own hypocrisy concerning the data.

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        • NS says:

          I didn’t claim he *underperformed* in his first six seasons. You either read through your bias or are just lying.

          The original and only positive claim advanced in this thread is that Arroyo has some special skill that results in him *outperforming* his FIP. I challenged it. These droolers went to his player page and chose to present only the instances in which he did outperform his FIP. This data was presented specifically at a seasonal level, not cumulatively.

          My response was to present the data that was deliberately omitted, the other half of the seasons of his career in which he *did not* outperform his FIP. That category includes both underperformances and seasons in which they were about equal, by definition.

          Cumulatively, he has outperformed his FIP by a small margin. This is about the weakest possible evidence of an ERA skill on which we could project extra value going forward. When challenged on this, all you people can do is refer to the same tiny sample, utterly ignoring 99% of the larger dataset of which it is a part – and ignoring the weakness of the correlation even within your own cherry-picked sample.

          It’s pathetic nonsense dressed up as statistical analysis. You like to use the buzzwords introduced to you on sites like these, but you don’t actually know what you’re talking about. You just huddle in this little group high-fiving each other over your own mutual mistakes.

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          He’s not hypocritical, Eric. Hypocrisy requires a certain level of self-awareness.

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        • B N says:

          Indeed. We are using meaningless “buzzwords” like “effect size” and “Cohen’s d” that are in no way associated with well-validated statistical methods that are actually meaningful to apply to this context.

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        • B N says:

          “Cumulatively, he has outperformed his FIP by a small margin”

          Also, this is just patently false. Do you actually understand the magnitude of 0.35 ERA over 2000 IP? It’s simple to calculate: (0.35/9 IP)*2000 ~ 78 Runs

          Is 78 runs a small number of runs now? Mind you, in WAR, that is about 7.8 WAR. You might as well say that Miguel Cabrera’s season was better than replacement by “a small margin.” Or that Johan Santana’s career was better than Javier Vasquez by “a small margin.”

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        • Eric Feczko says:

          @BN:

          To be fair, we don’t know the distribution of ERA-FIP. While I’m not sure, I would not be surprised if the distrubiton is non-normal. As a result, measuring effect size using cohen’s d may be inaccurate.

          Of course, such an inaccuracy would mean that we are underestimating the effect size. As you point out above, the simplest way to measure this would be to evaluate Arroyo’s ERA-FIP in the context of the observed distribution across all pitchers.

          @NS:

          Do you even read what you write? Below are quotes from the thread:

          “NS: Arroyo does outperform his FIP – except for the times when he doesn’t.”

          “Cool Lester Smooth: so, what times are those?”

          “NS: The answer is ‘virtually every season of his career (6 consecutive seasons) before moving to Cincinnati, and then again in 2008 in Cincinnati’. In other words, in literally half of the seasons of his career he has no [sic] outperformed his FIP.”

          By including four seasons (2000-2003) where he pitched less than 100 IP and equating that to eight seasons (2006-2013) where he pitched more than 199 IP is fallible. To then suggest that others are cherry picking when performing such a comparison is hypocritical.

          Worse, by criticizing others in this thread, you are conforming to the very stereotype of what an average fan considers a sabermetrician. Your claim is that a pitcher outperforming his FIP is random, and cite this article:

          http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/a-random-walk-with-fip/

          The purpose of the article is that FIP is a useful statistic for estimating the true talent of a pitcher. That’s all. It does not make any claim that FIP is the only statistic that should be use to measure pitcher ability. We expect that it will be predictive for most players, but not for all, and the empirical data conforms to that expectation. Matt Cain is another example that does not conform to the expectations produced by FIP.

          Let me quote from the article here:

          “This doesn’t mean that Cain & Friends have solely benefitted from luck, nor does it mean that FIP is in fact perfect, but it does mean that using Cain and others like him to discredit FIP doesn’t make sense.”

          Like every statistic, it isn’t perfect, and some players (e.g. Matt Cain, or Bronson Arroyo) may reliably outperform their FIP. That doesn’t mean FIP is a bad statistic, but it does mean that our evaluation of such pitchers needs to take into account more than just FIP.

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        • NS says:

          Eric, you are boxing with shadows.

          What do you think quoting those passages contradicts? You’ve already had this explained to you once. [Failing to outperform] is a superset within which both *underperforming* and *neither outperforming not underperforming* exist as subsets.

          My claim was specific: there are 7 seasons in which he has failed to outperform. All of my comments including those you quoted are consistent with this.

          “By including four seasons (2000-2003) where he pitched less than 100 IP and equating that to eight seasons (2006-2013) where he pitched more than 199 IP”

          This never happened. You are either a fool or a liar. There was no equation of those things at any point. In fact, I have explicitly noted the cumulative difference in his ERA and FIP. Again, you are either unable to comprehend what you read or are deliberately making things up.

          “The purpose of the article is that FIP is a useful statistic for estimating the true talent of a pitcher.”

          No, it isn’t. Did you even read it? The ‘purpose’ of the article is much narrower than that. It is not a justification or vindication of FIP in any way. All the article does is discard the method of argument the lot of you are employing in this thread. Merely finding a ERA-FIP outlier – even with persistent correlation over multiple season – is not merely weak evidence of “ERA skill”, it is *not even evidence at all*.

          You are literally saying nothing, and dancing around like someone else missed the boat.

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        • NS says:

          B N,

          What a grotesque manipulation. Why don’t you just ask me if 78 runs in a single game is a small number? Why not ask if it’s a small number of runs in a single inning? That would really drive home the point!

          And by drive it home, I mean completely distort it. The significance of a 78-run difference distributed across 150 innings is obviously enormous. It’s also irrelevant. You observed a 78-run difference across 2000 innings. That’s more like 5-7 per season.

          Even within the context of a single player’s career, the significance of that gap is borderline at best. And that’s not even touching the subject of whether or not you could reliably use it as a basis for some projection.

          Then you incorporate the rest of the data, and it is less than a rounding error.

          The OP of this thread hung his hat, in a criticism of the article, on this difference alone. As part of a more comprehensive argument on the limits of DIPS, that’s worth mentioning. As a stand-alone, presumably sufficient basis for a case against Arroyo’s projection? It’s laughable and the lengths to which people here including yourself have gone to defend it are almost as embarrassing.

          Arroyo’s differential is evidence of nothing at all, let alone *proof* that an error was made this article’s projections.

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          What you seem to consistently fail to understand is that the 7 seasons you cite form a much, much, much smaller sample size than the other 7 seasons of his career.

          The “literally half of the seasons of his career” in which he underperformed his FIP form roughly 1/3 of his career IP. The seasons in which he has outperformed his FIP form 2/3 of his career IP.

          In his 10 years as a starting pitcher, Arroyo has failed to outperform his FIP in just 3 seasons. Those seasons consist of 28% of his IP during that 10 year stretch. Over those 10 years, he has been worth 28.7 RA9 WAR (26.7 bWAR) and 22.0 fWAR. A half-win or more a year is a huge difference.

          Also, I notice you haven’t addressed the fact that past ERA becomes a better predictor of future ERA than FIP after a sample size that Arroyo surpassed years ago.

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  4. Stringer Bell says:

    “so the question is simply how suck should we put into one excellent season versus what Byrd had done previously”

    Uhh Dave…

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  5. Vlad the Impaler says:

    This could have used one more edit before hitting “post”. Errors abound in this one.

    The error in Shin-Soo Choo’s writeup says it all — “tired”

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  6. Sean says:

    Interesting that he has Beltran as the bad transaction, not Ellsbury, which I was expecting (given the years and the money and the injury history). In hindsight (with the A-Rod suspension and the Jeter announcement), I think the Yanks would have preferred to spend the Beltran money on Stephen Drew. Without Beltran, they still had an outfield consisting of Ellsbury, Gardner, and Soriano/Ichiro, which isn’t great (esp. the last combo), but isn’t terrible. The infield would have been improved, though, with Drew at 3B/SS. However, I can’t totally blame them for going out and getting Beltran, even though the third year was too much. They weren’t totally sure how the A-Rod fiasco would play out, and obviously everyone was a little blindsided by the Jeter announcement (even though they shouldn’t have been blindsided by the need for another infielder). MIxed feelings on it all.

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    • FeslenR says:

      not sure why everyone was shocked by Jeter’s announcement, the guy is getting pretty old and he has done everything he needed to do in the game.

      Other than that, I was surprised that Ellsbury wasn’t on the top worst transactions list either.

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      • Sean says:

        The management was pretty blindsided, from what was reported. But yeah, one shouldn’t be blindsided by a 40 year old shortstop coming off multiple injuries deciding to call it quits. The Yanks have never been to great with foresight, though.

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    • Eric Feczko says:

      I don’t follow your reasoning as to why the Beltran signing should be affected by hindsight.

      (1) The A-rod suspension was issued before the end of the season, and few thought that A-rod’s appeal would be overturned. Besides, Jeter would never shift to third and Drew is a better fit at second base anyways.

      (2) Jeter’s announcement all but guarantees that he will be playing shortstop (when healthy) in 2014, and there is a large crop of free agent shortstops available for 2015.

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      • Sean says:

        I think they would be happy to get 100 games out of him at short, the rest being DH days. When that happens, Brendan Ryan, while amazing defensively, will be out there. Along with Brian Roberts and Johnson/Nuñez at 3B, the bottom of the lineup goes from mediocre to pretty terrible. Drew, while not an offensive power, is an improvement over those three. The draft pick compensation just ruins everything from a Yankee perspective.

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    • Ruki Motomiya says:

      What’s wrong with Alfonso Soriano? Last 4 years: 2.8 WAR, 1.1 WAR, 3.6 WAR, 2.9 WAR. He’s not amazing or anything, but he ain’t gonna hurt you.

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  7. Logan Davis says:

    At the beginning of the offseason, the Mariners should’ve traded Nick Franklin WITH James Paxton for Dexter Fowler.

    (http://www.ussmariner.com/2013/11/05/daves-2014-off-season-plan/)

    Now, he’s one of their best young players, and displacing him with Robinson Cano was the second biggest mistake of the offseason.

    Sorry – I’ve got a little bit of a cognitive disconnect going on here…

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    • LaLoosh says:

      Holy overrating Dexter Fowler, Batman!

      +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • MLB Rainmaker says:

        Yeah, any plan that starts with “I’d like to find a way to get Dexter Fowler on my team” is severely off-base.

        Fowler is a tick above league average despite playing half his games at Coors; and that home/away split you’d expect is pronounced — wRC+ Home= 115 and Away=92.

        And that’s before the scouting — If you go through his pitch f/x data or even just watch video of his HRs from hittracker, you’ll see he’s really got a narrow “sweet spot” in that he destroys inside pitches. All of his HR from the left side this year were inside pitches, which is why his power dried up after Apr/May — scouting caught up to him and teams stopped pitching him in.

        I’d even go as far to say HOU overpaid for him, albeit not by much.

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    • Steve says:

      Yeah, Fowler is not that good. Would be a huge overpay.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      Nope. The suggestion was that they trade both for Dexter Fowler and Josh Rutledge. I see Rutledge as just a slightly less valuable version of Franklin, and under the proposal, maybe more valuable to the Mariners because he bats right-handed and would have complemented Seager/Miller/Ackley, three left-handed starting IFs. So the proposal was to exchange one young 2B for another and swap Paxton for Fowler, essentially.

      It’s easy to make a suggestion look bad by leaving out half of the suggested return, but that’s not a particularly accurate way of portraying things.

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      • Logan Davis says:

        Except that’s not even remotely how you wrote that article. I mean, look at what you said:

        * “I imagine that the first response to trading James Paxton and Nick Franklin to acquire Dexter Fowler (and stuff) is going to be pretty negative.”

        * “But Fowler is, of course, the key to this deal.”

        * “flipping Fowler for Paxton and Franklin would give them a power arm for their rotation…”

        * “I think Rutledge offers some of the same strengths as Franklin while also fitting better into the team’s structure since he’s right-handed”

        * 20 sentences about Fowler, two about Rutledge

        So Josh Rutledge is:
        >stuff
        >not the key to this deal
        >a guy who offers some of Franklin’s strengths, but right-handed
        >not important enough to merit his own paragraph

        …and now Rutledge and one year of Matt Belisle (minus Yoervis Medina) make up “half the suggested return”?

        Look, Josh Rutledge isn’t chopped liver, in an “I’m better than Willie Bloomquist” sort of way. He’s a reasonably valuable utility guy! Call him young Sean Rodriguez, with some upside.

        But it seems to me what’s really happened is that your estimation of Franklin has increased as you’ve seen projection systems come out liking him. Certainly there’s been a noticeable tone shift in your writing about him since ZiPS came out and you wrote that USSM article.

        Which is fine. It’s fine to change your mind. Good, even! But it’s probably better to just admit that you’ve changed your mind than it is to say Josh Rutledge was meant as half the suggested return in that deal.

        +30 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • LaLoosh says:

          ooh, gauntlets being thrown down and shnizzle…

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        • Bazinga! says:

          I hope Dave packed a healthy lunch and did all of his homework, because he just got taken to school.

          +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • I’m not trying to get involved, and I don’t know what goes on inside Dave’s head, but it seems like you might be reading in a little too much. Rutledge is literally half of a Rutledge/Fowler return, in that he’s half of the names (excepting Belisle which, whatever, relievers). If Dave thought Rutledge didn’t have value, he wouldn’t have included him in the trade in the first place. But Fowler is the more interesting of the two, and the more complicated to talk about, so of course he warranted more text. There’s a lot to say about Fowler and about the realities of playing in and out of Coors Field. Just because Fowler is inarguably the main part of that package doesn’t mean Rutledge is nothing. There’s just not a lot to say about Rutledge.

          And even if you’re not big on Franklin, he’s still one of the team’s better young players because the team doesn’t have many good young players. Because of Franklin, the Mariners had less of a need at 2B than they had at, say, 1B, or in the outfield. And plus, the presence of Franklin is only part of it — there’s also the 10 year/$240-million part.

          I don’t think I’m as down on the Cano contract as Dave is. I also don’t think you actually disagree that much.

          +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • chuckb says:

          Way to dissemble after being called out. Your complaint is that there should have been the same number of words about Fowler and Rutledge (after you disingenuously neglected to mention him in your post)?

          The fact is that you got called out for refusing to mention Rutledge in the trade proposal because mentioning him would’ve ruined the narrative you were trying to create. Then, in order to deflect attention from your own dishonesty, you attempt to portray Dave’s words in a manner that, essentially, accuses him wrongly of doing the exact thing that you did.

          There’s no reason for him to apologize for saying that Fowler would’ve been the key to the deal — it’s inarguable that a starting CF is more important to any deal than a utility infielder. Nor should he apologize for referring to a utility infielder as “stuff” especially when you chose to ignore that same infielder altogether. Finally, there’s no point in devoting a paragraph to the acquisition of a right-handed hitting utility infielder when the entire article was about all the things that the M’s should do during the offseason.

          Your suggestion was dishonest on its face, whether that was purposeful or accidental. Doubling down on your dishonest comment was obviously intentional. Own your mistakes. That’s what adults do.

          -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Logan Davis says:

          Jeff, you’re right – I don’t actually disagree that much, and I shouldn’t have picked this unnecessary fight. Dave, I take a step back on the severity of my disagreement. Sorry for being more dickish than was warranted.

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        • Aspiring Politician says:

          Guys… what are we doing. We’re trillions of dollars in debt. Priorities.

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    • Thank you says:

      HUUUUGE OVERPAY. These big vagina’d ladies are getting away with murder.

      -13 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Park Chan ho's beard says:

      Dave’s original suggestion (including Rutledge, that is) looks even better for both the Rockies and Mariners now. Mariners get rid of Franklin for a decent return, Rockies get rid of Fowler for a better return than they actually did. Rutledge would still provide upside as a bench guy or even potential SS, which he can play and Franklin cannot.

      Why can’t teams just make good transactions? When will the Rockies/Mariners stop being so dumb? When will then be now?

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  8. LaLoosh says:

    “…the question is simply how suck should we put into…”

    Huh?

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  9. Matt says:

    No Trumbo deal?

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    • LaLoosh says:

      yeah that surprised me too, given that Kevin Towers deals automatically get criticized by all baseball progressives. I actually like the Trumbo deal for AZ but think the Arroyo signing was ridiculous. With BRadley nearly ready all they needed was a stop gap SPer, but they were trying to throw money at someone all winter apparently.

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      • witesoxfan says:

        I’m honestly curious to know how someone can like the Trumbo deal.

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        • LaLoosh says:

          this from someone who writes white with no h….

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        • Steve says:

          He has muscle. Towers likes muscle. Is it analytical to question Towers’ sexual orientation…? There’s no other way to justify this.

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        • witesoxfan says:

          Nice reasoning. I was just trying to be cordial.

          How about the Diamondbacks traded two talented, cost controlled young players for a homer or nothing player who plays poor defense, has a career walk rate of 6.3%, a career K% of 25.1%, is due $4.8 million, and is a free agent in 3 years? That’s very similar to trading 2 very good prospects for 3 years of the current version of Adam Dunn, all things considered. I’m sure you’d think that’s a good move too though because he’s a power hitter or whatever.

          Oh, and it’s a screen name. So I wrote it without an h. Hoo cares

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        • LaLoosh says:

          wite, the Trumbo move was already endlessly litigated so I’m not about to get into that here. You saying I can’t say I like something w/o also having to support/explain it?

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        • witesoxfan says:

          Technically no, because this is America and not Communist Russia.

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        • Bip says:

          LaLoosh, you can at least broadly say whether you like the deal because

          A) You think Trumbo is more valuable that people are estimating
          or
          B) You think Skaggs/Eaton are less valuable than people are estimating.

          witesoxfan, If Trumbo walked nearly as much as Dunn he’d been far more valuable. I doubt there are many other players with as much power and as little BB% as Trumbo. Usually those two things go together.

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        • Frank says:

          He’s on their fantasy team?

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    • chuckb says:

      could it be that Dave was concerned that D-backs fans would feel like he was ganging up on them and elected to not include that one? The D-backs almost certainly had a pretty bad offseason.

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      • Valuearb says:

        Towers had a pretty good offseason by his standards, for example this year he didn’t acquire 3 no hit shortstops within the same month while one of the top prospects in his farm system was a shortstop.

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  10. vivalajeter says:

    Overall, both articles are a great read. I disagree about a couple of them, as expected with any list like this.

    Granderson – I don’t think he’s very close to the Mclouth/Murphy’s of the world. You referenced Oliver and Steamer, but they don’t know how to factor in how much of an impact last year’s injuries took. I think Dan Szymborski said he’d take the ‘over’ on his Zips projection because it can’t handle a forearm injury properly. Fans have him pegged at 3.7 WAR, which I think is reasonable. In his time with the Yankees, he’s on par (or better) on a 150 game basis every year but 2012 – when he was held back by career-worst CF defense numbers, which won’t come into play this year.

    Arroyo – “Arroyo’s biggest selling point is his durability, but 200 mediocre innings just aren’t that valuable.” I disagree. I don’t think he’s mediocre – I think he’s a little better than that. And 200 above-average innings have definite value.

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    • larry says:

      but AZ has Randall Delgado who can give you 160 or so similarly productive innings for a fraction of what they gave Arroyo.Plus they have some other young arms to fill in the rest of the innings.

      I agree rotation depth is always useful but it seems that AZ had some rotation depth that they just dont want to use

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    • Chummy Z says:

      I completely agree on Granderson. Dave’s comps don’t even make sense, as they all have around a 102 wRC+ for their careers, while Granderson has a 118 wRC+. That screams of more than “marginally better.” The defense on Granderson will probably be around average. He’s just a lot better than those players, and $15m/year isn’t awful at all for that, even if it gets a bit ugly as he ages.

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      • Bip says:

        I think the main issue is Granderson is getting well into his decline-ages, and he’s showing more susceptibility to injury. Granderson of the past would easily be worth that contract, but at his age, projecting him to approximate his past performance while also staying healthy is not wise.

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        • vivalajeter says:

          Is he really showing more susceptibility to injury though? In 2011 he played in 156 games. In 2012 he played in 160 games. Last year he took a pitch to the wrist twice, but that seems more flukish than injury prone.

          On the one hand, some people crowd the plate and have a higher chance of getting hit. But in Granderson’s case, he only got hit by a pitch twice last year (once in spring training, once in the regular season) and they both hit the wrong spot. In his career, he’s only had one season where he was hit more than 5 times.

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    • Preston says:

      I think that the Granderson deal isn’t bad, I mean we’re talking about a guy who was a legitimate MVP candidate in 2011. He had a down 2012 and an injury in 2013 (but not a lingering one as he came back healthy and provided value). He’s definitely not on par with guys like Murphy and McClouth. Plus these deals don’t happen in a vacuum, the Mets aren’t good. They need to over pay slightly to get players to come, and as a NY team they do have some financial might (albeit not recently).
      I think in a vacuum you’d be right about Arroyo. But the fact is Arizona has some interesting back end options and serious financial limitations. Plus Chase Field is a pretty home run friendly environment, so Arroyo’s home park won’t be doing him any favors. It’s just a really bad fit.

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    • Eric Feczko says:

      I completely agree on Arroyo. In and of itself, the 2/23 million deal is not a bad deal by any means, and there are certainly other deals this offseason that are more questionable

      I also completely disagree on Granderson. Certainly, Granderson will bounce back from his 2012/2013 years in 2014. However, some of his peripherals in both those years show some significant decline. Specifically, his swinging strike rate was 11.6 then 13.7 in 2012/2013 (swinging strike rate tends to stabilize very early, making it predictive). This corresponded to a large increase in strikeouts relative to pre-2012 (24.5 in 2011, 28.5 in 2012/2013). His defense has been trending downwards for the last few years. This may be offset by playing an easier outfield position (e.g. right field), but would also come with a worse positional adjustment.

      Don’t get me wrong, I think Granderson will be a 3 WAR player next year (a feat he has achieved in four of his six full seasons as a player), I also think he will decline considerably after that.

      The big problem is the lack of payroll flexibility for the Mets. They should be looking for value in free agent contracts, and instead paid market-level price (at best) for Granderson. Worse, Granderson’s large contract prevented the mets from improving on other positions. I’m very low on Reuben Tejada as a shortstop; he’s about average defensively (1.1 UZR over 2000 innings at shortstop), shows no power (0.06 ISO), and needs to maintain a .350 BABIP to contribute on offense. Had the mets signed someone like David murphy, who should be a 2 WAR player full time, they could’ve picked up another 2 WAR player at shortstop (e.g. Stephen Drew: who is better defensively (past 2000 innings (including injury time) he has a 2.3 UZR, hits for more power (0.15 ISO) and only need a 320 BABIP to generate offensive value) for 20-30 million less than what they paid for Granderson.

      Granderson is not a bad player, but given the Mets diminished payroll flexibility, he doesn’t provide a lot of value beyond the contract itself.

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      • Greg says:

        I disagree with your disagreement.

        1st off, Drew is still in play for the mets. He is apparently still looking for 3 years at over 10 mil per. The mets have said many times if Drew was to drop his price, they would have the funds to sign him. You said it yourself that Drew is about a 2 WAR player… Tejada has the skills to be a 1 WAR player (dude is very young and has shown ability to at least not be awful). Is all that money and years worth it to improve 1-2 WAR? I dont think so, and I think the Mets dont either… so they will wait to work on a trade at a later date or sign someone next year.

        And with that, can we at least wait until they actually miss out on Drew before we start criticizing them for missing out on Drew?

        Granderson is not just a big improvement on the field (he was a legit MVP candidate 2 years ago and you compare him to David Murphy????) but also in the clubhouse. The mets are a very young team and needed someone in the clubhouse to help David Wright lead. Yes, clubhouse leadership can be vastly overrated. But that doesnt mean there is no value in it.

        Was the Granderson signing amazing? No. When looking for the best deals of an offseason you look for places where the team got extra value. They paid market price for him so I wouldnt call it a steal. But it was a good signing for the team.

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        • Eric Feczko says:

          I think it’s reasonable to disagree regarding Rueben Tejada; I’ll freely admit that I’m extremely low on him relative to everyone else. Having seen him play, I disagree with the projections and think his true talent level was slightly above his production last year (-0.3 WAR in 60 games); I expect him to be a 0 WAR player and a backup utility infielder for his MLB career.

          Howevwer, I was comparing Granderson to Murphy + Drew, not to Murphy himself. Murphy signed for 2/12, Drew could be signed for 3/30. Together, you are talking 3/42. Granderson would cost 3/45 plus an additional fourth year at 15 million. Drew and murphy are projected to combine for about 4 WAR, which is assuming that Drew regresses somewhat from last year and spends time on the DL. Granderson may project for 4 WAR next year, but you are spending more money and more years on a declining player.

          But let us forget about Drew for a second, and assume that the Mets will sign him anyways. Granderson may be a 3 WAR player next year but cost 15 million over 4 years. Murphy may be a 2 WAR player next year but cost 6 million over 2 years. If you question whether 10 million for a 1 WAR improvement is worth it, then you should really be questioning whether the money for Granderson over Murphy is worth it anyways. If the 1 WAR improvement is valuable, then signing both Murphy and Drew would provide the same improvement as signing Granderson, but with greater monetary flexibility.

          Granderson WAS an excellent player in 2011; it was also an outlier season for his career (0.290 ISO vs. 230 career ISO). As I suggested, he may have declined in 2012 and 2013, and paying extra money for past performance (especially performance from over two years ago) is generally a bad idea.

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  11. Chris says:

    Although the #10 ranking is low, I think the criticism of the Byrd deal is overblown. 2 years/$16M means the Phillies are paying for something between 2.5-3 WAR over the life of the contract.

    His true talent is probably somewhere in between the -1.0 (driven by a BABIP that’s 50 (!!) points below his career BABIP) and 4.1 WAR he’s put up. That puts him at around 1.5 WAR/season. Even with some decline, it looks like he can produce that over the next two years and “earn” his contract.

    Now, whether I think the Phillies should have been the team giving him that contract is another story…

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    • RC says:

      His 4.1 WAR season was also 30 points higher than his career BABIP.

      But yeah, a win and a half is probably reasonable. It’s a little irritating to see Fangraphs do all these articles about how WAR/$ is linear, and talk about the big contracts, and then pan the smaller ones that are almost guaranteed to produce positive value for the club.

      It’s very “I’ll ignore this because it doesn’t fit my narrative,” and that’s really not what I’m looking for when I come to a site that’s purports to using stats intelligently.

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      • Chris says:

        I definitely agree with the inconsistent narratives-especially how the site has generally lauded the Josh Johnson deal while criticizing the Byrd deal.

        Yes, Byrd has an extra year of commitment, but he also has the better track record. He’s produced two 4-win seasons since 2010, one of them being last year. Johnson’s last 4-win year was 2010, and he was awful last year. I think age-decline risk and injury-decline risk are pretty comparable, with the former being less risky IMO, explaining Byrd’s extra year.

        I like both deals and see where each team was coming from (even if I think the Phillies should reevaluate their long-term plans)-just two teams trying to push themselves into a position where they can hope for a 2012 Orioles season (a .500 team that has enough luck to push it into the playoffs).

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    • larry says:

      i agree with you about the Byrd deal. Not only should he earn this contract based on $/WAR, but even if Byrd does nothing, this deal is not going to hamstring the Phillies finances. Its only $8 mil AAV. the only reason an overpay is bad is bc it prevents a team from future financial flexibility, just dont see that happening in this case.

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      • RC says:

        “Its only $8 mil AAV. the only reason an overpay is bad is bc it prevents a team from future financial flexibility, just dont see that happening in this case.”

        Teams generally have fixed or close to fixed budgets, so any locked in cash that isn’t producing value hurts the team.

        If Byrd is producing $3M of value and costing $8M, that $8M probably could have made the team better somewhere else.

        $8M lost on a useless player is probably worse than losing $8M on a player making $18M and producing $10M worth of value. Why? Because atleast the 2nd player is useful.

        That being said, I have a hard time seeing Byrd underperform this deal by any substantial margin.

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  12. Eddie Bird says:

    You missed one of the worst, Jason Vargas to KC. Why did they pay 5x as much for him as they did for Bruce Chen?

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    • LaLoosh says:

      good point!

      I also don’t agree with #8. I think that Lyles has a chance to be a solid starter in CO. His GB inducing ability was obviously desired.

      Also I think DC is being a little harsh on the M’s. You have to give them lots of credit for bringing in an elite player and especially when no one thought the Yankees would let him get away. It sounds like the criticism is that the M’s didn’t do other things to improve the roster around Cano fast enough. That may be but that shouldn’t take away from the signing.

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      • Bip says:

        Dude, a 10-year deal to a 31-year-old. I think there’s really no way to avoid putting that deal in the top 5. They’ll be paying him $24 million when he’s 41!!. It’s hard to like that deal. And he has a full no trade clause!

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        • LaLoosh says:

          but if he continues to be a 5 – 6 win player for the first 3 or 4 yrs of the deal, at $6M per win, he’ll pretty valuable to the M’s during that early period and that’s supposed to offset the overpay at the end of the deal.

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        • ankle explosion hr celebration says:

          … which would be very significant, if the Mariners were in a position to contend for the next 3-4 years. Then they’d be loading the valuable portion of the contract onto the best part of the win curve and the deal would be defensible, nay, smart, even.

          But all indications point to them not being very good next year, even with Cano. Then Jack Z will get fired. Then a new GM will come in and perhaps not assemble a really competitive team for a few years after that. At which point they will have wasted the good part of Cano’s contract, and be starting down the long road of injuries & decline which happen to even HoF’ers in their late 30s.

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        • Grack Zeinke says:

          they’re a team that also had the issue of not being able to attract premium FAs in the past bc of the added travel. I’m sure this was part of the calculus of the deal and they hope this will cause other FAs to take the M’s more seriously in the future.

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      • Bip says:

        He basically needs to produce about 35 WAR over the course of the deal, for an average of 3.5. Let’s assume a decline of .5 WAR per year, which is pretty standard for players over 30.

        Age: WAR
        31: 5.5
        32: 5.0
        33: 4.5
        34: 4.0
        35: 3.5
        36: 3.0
        37: 2.5
        38: 2.0
        39: 1.5
        40: 1.0

        Adds up to 32.5. That’s not terrible I suppose. Here’s the issue though. Not every player has Cano’s upside. Most players will never approach the 6-7 peaks Cano is capable of. However, Cano is not particularly less likely to explode than a reliable 2-3 WAR player. If he goes down with an injury for a season, that is 24 million for a spot on the DL. Basically, if you sign a 2 WAR player, you risk losing 2 WAR if he gets hurt. If you sign a 6 WAR player, you risk losing 6 WAR. I think that’s why projection systems tend to be pretty conservative about star players.

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  13. Gabriel says:

    What this article actually says to me is that there weren’t many really bad decisions this year. The top two are the only ones that I think a team could really end up regretting.

    Factoring in inflation in salaries, a bunch of these are only borderline overpays and, even when they are overpays, most of them won’t hurt the team too much over the long term, a la Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Alex Rodriguez Contract II, and Prince Fielder (though the Tigers got out of that).

    Like really, do you think the Phillies really will hurt if Byrd doesn’t pan out? They are paying him for 3 WAR over two years — that’s below average, right? They certainly are not paying him as though he were a 4 WAR/year player and it isn’t a long contract.

    Even numbers 3 and 4, Choo and Tanaka, seem like overpays their teams can easily afford. I guess the assumption is that the team could not make other moves because these transactions were so expensive, or that they should have saved themselves a few million dollars and signed cheaper and nearly as good players. Why are those assumptions being made?

    If I can afford Kraft Macaroni and Cheese even though the store brand is cheaper, why not get the name brand? It’s not like I would choose to get two boxes of the store brand stuff and can only afford one box of Kraft.

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    • Mike says:

      Couple of things.

      You comparison between store brand Mac & Cheese and Kraft and some of these contracts only rings true if you’re paying $20 for craft. As a Rangers fan, I don’t necessarily disagree with the idea that the Choo contract wasn’t bad.

      I think the point is that the Rangers felt they were on a place on the win curve where the marginal improvement was worth the bad contract. That’s something that I don’t disagree with. But in a vaccuum, I’d say paying Choo more than $20 MM for the better part of a decade is probably not a great deal.

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    • JayT says:

      Though if you buy the store brand that might free up enough grocery money for you to add hot dogs to the mac and cheese giving you an overall better meal.

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  14. Stuck in a slump says:

    To be fair, I doubt that Choo would have topped 100 million if Pence hadn’t signed for 90. I think that the Giants giving Pence that kind of a payday so early in the off season helped inflate Choo’s price as he’s a slightly better player.

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  15. willkoky says:

    For Reed and Fister you are forgetting something that makes trading for arbitration stars good for the receiving team. The option of extension without loss of draft pick, or trading again for restock of talent. What Doug Melvin did with the starters he got has looked pretty good for the Brewers. He re-flipped his acquisitions for Segura and the a few others helping, if not outright replacing, what was lost to start with. This fact may make Reed less bad and Fister even worse transactions.

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    • Baseball fan says:

      But he gave up A. Escobar, B. Lawrie, Odorizzi, and L. Cain for essentially 1.5 years of Grienke, Segura, and a year or two of Marcum. That’s three MLB regulars plus a guy who could be a No. 2 or 3.

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  16. brett says:

    Good writeup on the Fister trade. Thanks Dave. Dombrowski deserves the acknowledgement that he just might be on to something.

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    • Steve says:

      Why? Because we’re assuming he didn’t finally mess up?

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      • brett says:

        The assumption is that he DID mess up. But that’s exactly it – it’s an assumption and he’s a GM who’s proven talent evaluators wrong many times in the past.

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        • Steve says:

          Right, but at face value RIGHT NOW, it looks as if Dombrowski majorly messed up. It’s hard to justify this trade by simply saying, “person A has been right about separate player B in the past, and therefore he must always be right.”

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        • brett says:

          You’re right. I’m not suggesting we try to justify this trade. It looks bad. But neither should we discuss it as though it’s objectively bad, as has been the case in most passages on the subject. Therefore, I appreciate Dave’s writeup.

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  17. Baltar says:

    The bronze goes to the Choo signing, silver to Cano’s and gold to Tanaka’s.

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  18. McDermy says:

    Woah, woah, woah! If Fister has been deemed better than Tanaka, and Fister was Detroit’s 4th starter, doesn’t logic follow that Tanaka is a #5 on a 1st division team? That’s a whole lotta money for a #5!

    The Cano selection as the 2nd worst makes no sense without Ellsbury being listed at all. Since Cano is substantially better than Franklin, but Ellsbury is only a mild upgrade to Gardner, and both were expensive yet somewhat redundant acquisitions, how is Cano’s deal bad but Ellsbury’s notsomuch?

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    • bobabaloo says:

      what? that is a joke i hope? fister is probably the yankees ace or #2

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      • McDermy says:

        “the Tigers sold a pitcher as good or better than Masahiro Tanaka”

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        • Mike says:

          What? Are you an idiot?

          Their talent levels don’t have anything to do with their actual spots in a rotation.

          Comparing Tanaka to Fister doesn’t make him a #5 starter, because pretty much every Tiger starter would likely be the ace of the Yankees roto.

          Fister has been a top 15/20 pitcher over the last couple of seasons. Being in a rotations with Scherzer, Verlander, and Sanchez doesn’t make him a true #4 talent.

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        • Sean C says:

          Pretty sure he was making a joke…

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    • larry says:

      Ellsbury is not replacing Gardner in the Yanks line up.

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      • McDermy says:

        Because Ellsbury’s replacing NY’s other lead off hitter and CFer instead?

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        • larry says:

          bc last i checked you can play 3 outfielders all at the same time, tricky right. Gardner is still going to be in the line up everyday, barring injuries or unforeseen craziness, so he is not being replaced by anyone.

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        • Ian R. says:

          True, but there’s an argument to be made that Ellsbury and Gardner’s skill sets overlap so much that the Yankees won’t get as much benefit from the two of them as you’d think. They can’t both play center field and they can’t both lead off. It’s a case where 1+1 equals 1.8 instead of 2.

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    • Troy says:

      Have to agree with this. I do not like the Cano or Beltran signings. I think Granderson is ok. Choo, not terrible given the market this year. But the Ellsbury contract is horrendous, especially since the Yanks already had a rough equivalent on their roster in Gardner.

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  19. Andrew Faris says:

    Surprised to see no Kinsler for Fielder.

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    • Steve says:

      Yeah, Texas messed up. Don’t have much faith in Profar, and Kinsler is still very effective.

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      • Dirck says:

        I am curious about the lack of faith in Profar .He is a consensus #1 prospect in baseball who has always been very young for every level at which he has played and he has looked very good at every one of them . He didn’t burn up MLB last year ,but just how much can one expect from a very young guy in his first year in the majors who is getting very irregular playing time spread over a number of positions ?

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        • Steve says:

          Perhaps my little faith does have to do with his small sample size, but the fact remains that Profar was ineffective at the plate in the majors. It is my personal opinion that he’s too cautious at the plate. I’m not saying he can’t change, but why trade the proven player for the prospect when you don’t need to?

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        • Bip says:

          Because if you don’t give the prospect a shot, you’re wasting a potential source of value. Plus, Kinsler is getting into his decline age and Profar should be entering his best years.

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    • bobabaloo says:

      i don’t know. from Texas’s standpoint the got fielder for 7 years and $138 million and got rid of kinsler’s bad deal. slight overpay on fielder, yes. but all in all not a bad deal for them.

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      • Steve says:

        HUGE overpay for Fielder!!!!! Not slight. Not at all. Fielder is on a massive downward spiral and Texas is going to have to endure it now with a huge Q-mark at 2B as well.

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        • Jason B says:

          To be fair, I think up-and-coming (though by no means a sure thing) Profar stands a very good chance of outproducing declining Kinsler over the next several years, at a fraction of the cost.

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  20. someguy says:

    How about Ricky Nolasco for 4/49? That’s a ridiculous contract for a #4 pitcher, especially now that Garza, Jimenez and soon Santana will sign for roughly similar deals. Twins really jumped the market on that one.

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    • LaLoosh says:

      $12M per for a dependable #3 SPer is pretty reasonable and no draft pick compensation. Garza had injury issues that kept his market depressed and Ubaldo and Ervin have the draft pick issue.

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    • Eddie Bird says:

      Good point. Ricky signed so long ago I forgot about him. There are other factors, but in a vacuum it’s really hard to fathom Nolasco, Garza, and Jimenez as comparable pitchers.

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    • JayT says:

      Here’s these three pitchers over the last three years:
      Nolasco 596.1 innings, 4.29 ERA, 8.6 WAR
      Garza 457 innings, 3.62 ERA 8.2 WAR
      Jimenez 547.2 innings, 4.45 ERA, 6.6 WAR

      I don’t really see Nolasco as being a huge overpay. Garza has certainly the best pitcher of the three…when he’s actually on the field, but that injury risk gets built into the contract.

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      • Ian R. says:

        Considering Nolasco has consistently underperformed his FIP throughout his career, I’m not sure using FIP-based WAR is a great idea. By RA9-WAR, he’s been worth just 3.7 wins in that span.

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  21. Mike says:

    Dave! How dare you not put every Yankee transaction of the winter on your list!!!!

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  22. edgar4evar says:

    I’m going to defend the Cano deal by pointing out that the Mariners have had a hell of a time getting a hitter to sign in Seattle. The price for a slugger at a premium defensive position on the market in general, and the price to get one to go to Seattle appear to be two different things. Seattle needed to add net positional player talent to the team. They didn’t really have anything to trade. There weren’t a ton of players beating down their door to sign. So they had to overpay a player.

    Now if you’re going to overpay, do you want to find mediocre talent like Granderson or Choo and overpay that guy? Or would you rather have the best second baseman in the game right now? Yes the Mariners have about six guys on the 40 man who are natural second basemen. Now they have several trade chips. And the best second baseman in baseball.

    They paid too much, but I don’t think they had a lot of other options to get better. And they are better now than they were. I’ll just pretend the world ends in 2018.

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    • LaLoosh says:

      yeah I think Seattle did a pretty darn good job here and have the chips to get a premium SP during the season should say, the Phils become sellers. I still think they should pursue a deal with the Pads for Maybin before the season begins or another CFer but we’ll see where that goes. It appears they are fielding offers for Franklin now.

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    • Bip says:

      Yes the Mariners have about six guys on the 40 man who are natural second basemen. Now they have several trade chips.

      This offseason has demonstrated that teams are much, much more cautious about giving away talent than they used to be. Teams know the Mariners would like to trade Franklin. I don’t think anyone is going to get duped into giving up any kind of haul for him.

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  23. MrKnowNothing says:

    I see. NOW PEDs work according to FG. Gotcha.

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  24. Dscott says:

    “Granderson is getting paid like an impact player, but he just isn’t one, and the Mets could have gotten 90% of the production for 15% of the cost.”

    Totally disagree. He may have gotten lost in the shuffle of big names on the Yankees roster, and forgotten due to a serious wrist injury that would kill the power of anyone. Lets remember the Curtis Granderson that can slug 40 homers though and lead the league in Triples, while providing above average defense. Not to mention he’s a character guy (yes i’m a homer, and know about Curtis off the field). Great sign in my eyes.

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    • LaLoosh says:

      Grandy hasn’t been an impact player since 2011 to be fair. You have to look at it that way in context of the contract covering his age 33 -36 seasons.

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      • DJLetz says:

        Granderson wasn’t an “impact player” in 2011–he was a legit MVP candidate. In 2012 he was an “impact player,” which would likely be more visible to Fangraphers were it not for the flukishly low fielding score he got that year depressing his total WAR. Put that more in line with the surrounding years, and he grades out to borderline All-Star–which is, you know, a sensible evaluation for a center fielder who hit 43 home runs.

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    • larry says:

      that was 40 HRs in the shoebox that is yankee stadium. im interested to see how that power translates to citi, even with the fence brought in

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    • Bip says:

      The triples and the defense are not likely to continue for much longer at his age. I think that’s the main key for him, age.

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  25. Drew Miller says:

    How exactly is Seattle “years away” from being a contender? Even if only one of Walker/Paxton pans out, that’s 3/5ths of a good rotation. And Seattle’s system is excellent, making it a place to promote from within (Peterson), or trade for bullpen/bench help.

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  26. crapshoot says:

    The Giants gave Tim Lincecum 35 million dollars. That has to be worse than Marlon Byrd or Bronson Arroyo. And I say this as a Giants fan.

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    • LaLoosh says:

      Short term deals rule!!

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    • Wally says:

      Completely agree with this. It happened so long ago, I wonder if it was forgotten? Tied for 3rd highest AAV of all pitcher contracts (FA or extensions) this offseason, IIRC. Only Kershaw and Tanaka were higher, I think.

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    • Shankbone says:

      Lincecum has a ton more upside than any of those other names.

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      • Will says:

        But does he really? Lincecum is a fundamentally different pitcher from his peak in 2008-09. His velocity has dropped by nearly 4 MPH and has gone from one of the best FBs in the game to one of the worst. He hasn’t transitioned well from being a power pitcher to a finesse guy. He’s not a bad player by any means, but it’s totally wrong to expect anything remotely close to his peak. His upside right now is probably his 2010 season, where he was worth 4.2 WAR. But that’s exactly how much Marlon Byrd was worth in 2010 and 2013. Their upside is the same thing.

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  27. Remus says:

    I think the Yankees deals aren’t that bad when you consider who made them. Sure, in a context neutral environment theyre obvioust overpays, but they can afford to overpay.

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    • RC says:

      The Yankees finished 12 games out of their division last year, with a $250M payroll because they consistently make deals that “they can afford to overpay” on.

      The problem is that the Yankees refuse to use their economic advantages wisely, and instead give huge longterm deals to guys that fill short term needs.

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  28. jwise224 says:

    I’m so surprised that the Trumbo for Skaggs and Eaton deal wasn’t included.

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  29. trochlis318 says:

    the arguement is not how much money they saved, its what they got in return for a top ten pitcher in the mlb according to WAR which was pennies on a dollar, when the tigers could have gotten a shields like package for fister they instead got the return of an averageish pitcher making 14x the minimum of money. The package that the rays got for shields can be compared to rendon plus A.J. Cole, both of whom are cost controlled for the next 6 years and project to be much better than the package they got, obviously the royals overpaid with Myers and Ordozzi, but when the tigers got less perceived than what the cubs got in return for 2 months of Garza there is something not right here.

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  30. It is very surprising to me that many cannot figure out why the Dombrowski trade was savvy for the Tigers even if Ray is not a superstar.

    There are more than two options. The THIRD OPTION is actually what happened. Teams like the Rays and As are familiar with this option.

    HERE IT IS:
    This trade came on the heels of the Fielder trade. The Tigers are obligated to pay Texas $30MM over several years. That must have given Illitch (Tigers owner) a sour taste in his mouth. Dombrowski more than made up for the $30MM by making the trade. How?

    They got 3 near league minimum guys that are good enough to make the team. They traded 2 years of control, for 15+, many of those year for under $1MM. (Rays and As know how much value these guys have).

    Fister will be replace on the roster by Krol. Total Tigers Savings over 2 years: $17MM

    Krol will then replace a middle reliever (assume it would have to be a free agent) on the roster for another two years. Total savings over those 2 years: $10MM

    Ray will replace Porcello (or equivalent #4 pitcher) on the roster, saving $10MM/year for 4 years. TOTAL: $40MM
    * It will be a bonus if Ray is a #3 or better pitcher… All he has to be is a #4 pitcher.

    Lombardozzi replaces Ramon Santiago (or equivalent free agent) for the next 3 years: Total Savings: $11MM

    TOTAL Savings: $17 + 10 + 40 + 11 = $78MM.

    My numbers may be optimistic. All these players may not pan out as expected, so cut the number in HALF: $39MM in savings to the Tigers by making the Fister Trade.

    If the trade were simply the rights to Fister for $39-$78MM, would you do it? Just shocked that people cannot figure this out!

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    • larry says:

      while your logic makes sense, wouldnt it be better for the Tigers if the players they got in return were better? you would have the same cost savings, but a better chance at value from the prospects the tigers received? i think thats the main point, they couldve gotten more.

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      • Let us assume the Dombrowski’s goal was to save money…. even more so than get the very best players.

        Can you think of a package of 3 major league ready players that are at near league minimum salaries with 15+ years of collective control?

        Please list them if you have names in mind. I found this is very hard to do.

        Look at it this way:
        The average salary of Cabrera, Scherzer (assuming he stays), Verlander, Krol, Lombardozzi and Ray will only be about $13MM/year in 2015 (which is less than Qualifying Offer dollars). 3 Mega contracts coupled with 3 near-league minimum contracts makes sense for the Tigers.

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        • Troy says:

          oh i dunno, maybe cole and rendon? or jordan and goodwin? like prospects that are going to be good, rather than a bullpen arm, a lottery ticket sp, and a mediocre utility infielder…

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        • Troy,

          I personally would like like to see Giolito as part of the deal. But I am not going to argue if Dombrowski thinks Ray > Giolito given his injury.

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        • emdash says:

          That’s definitely not the reason Detroit got Ray instead of Giolito – Rizzo has said that Giolito was off the table for any deal they would make.

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        • Bip says:

          Dombrowski definitely does not think Ray > Giolito. No one thinks that.

          Giolito was definitely not available, at least not for Fister.

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    • Troy says:

      Yes, because Sir Illitch clearly cares about saving a few bucks. In the wake of the enormous Fielder contract, the mega Cabrera deal, the mammoth Verlander extension….I don’t think dude cares about saving money. He is quite obviously in championship or bust mode. Not to mention they lost 3-6 wins from giving away fister over the next two years (Fister produces 6-8 and I’m being kind by giving the ray/krol/lombardo pupu platter 2-3 wins) – their real window of contention. They basically traded a dollar for three dimes and either Fister is hurt or Dombrowski got drunk and lost his mind.

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      • JayT says:

        Admittedly, I’m pretty high on Smyly, but I don’t think taking Fister out of the rotation will cost the Tigers more than a win, maybe three over the next two years.

        That’s not to say they shouldn’t have gotten a better return though.

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      • Interesting WAR argument… let us play it out.

        Fister for projected fWAR for 2 years: 3.4 * 2 = 6.8

        Ray (assume he is a #5 pitcher, equalling Porcello average fWAR last 3 years): 2.8 * 5 years = 14

        Krol = 80% of Smyly’s fWAR for 5 years: 1.5 fWAR * 5 = 7.5

        Lombardozzi matches Santiago: 0.2 fWAR * 5= 1.0.

        FISTER total: 6.8
        Other three players total: 14 + 7.5 + 1 = 22.5.

        22.5 > 6.8.

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        • Troy says:

          given that fister has averaged 4.4 WAR over the past three years, the projections look a bit low. i would say he’s more likely to produce 8 WAR over two years.

          it is a HUGE stretch to assign 14 WAR to ray, considering he’s NEVER PITCHED ABOVE AA-ball. not to mention, only 45 pitchers in all of major leagues last year accrued 2.8 WAR. we’re looking at something more like 8 wins over the next five years (1+1+2+2+2) he won’t even be in the starting rotation coming out of spring training.

          moreover, only 20 relievers in baseball accrued 1.5 WAR last season. krol, a guy who’s accrued -0.3 WAR in one big league season is suddenly an ELITE reliever for 5 straight season? you must be joking. if he’s lucky, he might crack 3 or 4 wins in 5 years.

          let’s assume 8+4+1=13 wins to fister’s 8 wins. a slight edge to the overall package, but again, 2 years versus 5 years.
          what’s MUCH worse, is how dramatic a downgrade it is for the tigers in the short term. fister gives them 7-8 wins, while the package gives them MAYBE 4 wins? these two years are critical to the tigers, since cabrera/kinsler/verlander/scherzer and other core players are only getting older and worse as they age. the time for them is now and they punted on one of the better starters in the majors for some minor future value and a small financial savings? the whole decision is bizarre.

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        • Troy,

          Thanks for the detailed analysis.

          Re: Fister’s fWAR projection… I was using the average of Steamer/Oliver/Fans numbers. I rounded up to 3.4.

          Smyly had a fWAR of 1.9 last year as a reliever. I assumed that Krol would be close. If I am off, then is Smyly really that good? Will he outpitch Fister himself in 2014 as a STARTER and therefore will the Tigers get more production for less money out of Smyly v. Fister then?

          Then there is Porcello. His fWAR last five years: 1.7, 1.8, 2.6, 3.0, 3.2. He is 25. He also has a real good chance to outpitch Fister in 2014.

          Tigers extended their window by making this deal. They had too many pitchers. Smyly was so good as a reliever, they had to find a way for him to start. Fister’s value was higher than Porcello… but Tigers likely valued them about the same.

          If Scherzer leaves after 2014 or Porcello leaves after 2015, then Ray will take the #5 spot in the rotation and each of the other four starter will a fWAR > 3.0. Their window can then continue for several more years.

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        • GoodEnoughForMe says:

          Krol is not Smyly, no. Not close. He’s a LOOGY right now, and had huge splits in the minors. He’s more phil Coke than anything. Smyly quietly had a fantastic season out of the bullpen last year and was one of the best setup men in baseball.

          As a starter, Smyly is probably not as good as Fister. Smyly really only has two pitches, as his changeup still needs work, and will probably be on some sort of pitch count per start limit that the other starting pitchers are not on. He’s probably a decent/solid starter, possibly even good, considering his rookie year was pretty solid, but he’s not Top ~20 like Fister.

          The Tigers do not have too many pitchers. The 6-7 guys right now are Ray and Alvarez, and their bullpen is shallower than last year. They’re extremely loaded with talent on the front end but lacking in depth.

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        • Al says:

          The Tigers aren’t relying on Smyly to be near Fister’s value — they’re hoping that Porcello will do that. They’re expecting Porcello to improve, with Smyly being roughly the same or a slight drop-off from what Porcello did in 2013.

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    • NS says:

      That is a reason trading Fister makes sense. That is not a reason that trading Fister for peanuts makes sense.

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      • Please name THREE players good enough to make the Tigers roster, but still at or near league minimum. That combination is a lot harder than people think.

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        • Michael Scarn says:

          What are you talking about? You don’t think there are 3 players in major league baseball making around the league minimum that are good enough to make the Tigers roster?

          Xander Bogaerts, Mike Trout, and Jose Fernandez. There’s 3.

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        • Bip says:

          His working was poor, but he means three players making the league minimum who are available to the Tigers in some other way, or who would have all been available for Fister. I think.

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        • Bip says:

          And my spelling was poor.

          update previous_comment set word = 'wording' where word = 'working'

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    • Bip says:

      Fister will be replace on the roster by Krol. Total Tigers Savings over 2 years: $17MM

      Krol will then replace a middle reliever (assume it would have to be a free agent) on the roster for another two years. Total savings over those 2 years: $10MM

      That’s assuming Krol stays in the bullpen and doesn’t wash out. I’m not convinced it will save them that much.

      Ray will replace Porcello (or equivalent #4 pitcher) on the roster, saving $10MM/year for 4 years. TOTAL: $40MM
      * It will be a bonus if Ray is a #3 or better pitcher… All he has to be is a #4 pitcher.

      That’s a bit of an if. Most top-100 prospects are not guaranteed to even be able to stick in a rotation. Ray isn’t even that.

      TOTAL Savings: $17 + 10 + 40 + 11 = $78MM.

      My numbers may be optimistic. All these players may not pan out as expected, so cut the number in HALF: $39MM in savings to the Tigers by making the Fister Trade.

      If the trade were simply the rights to Fister for $39-$78MM, would you do it? Just shocked that people cannot figure this out!

      Yes, I would take 2 years of Fister for $39. He has been a 4 WAR pitcher for a while. 8 WAR for $39 is a bit of a bargain.

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    • Bip says:

      I think the major fallacy with this post is there is way more uncertainty on the Tigers’ side than on the Nationals’ side. Your scenario here is basically the best-case-scenario for the Tigers, but since you’re talking about three individual players each reaching their potential, the chances of that happening are much slimmer than the chances of Washington’s best-case-scenario.

      Another issue: you are projecting the players the Tigers got to be about as good as they can reasonably be expected to be, but you aren’t doing the same with Fister. Below you use Fister’s projection of 3.4 WAR, but considering how optimistic you are about the players the Tigers got, you should probably consider Fister to be worth about 5 WAR for each of the seasons he’ll be with Washington. Especially so, because the chance one player reaches his best-case performance is much better than the chances that three different individual players all do.

      However, if your extreme value estimation of these young players is accurate, then my goodness, the James Shields trade looks like the crime of the century.

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    • jiveballer says:

      This might make sense if roster configuration was only about $/WAR and you had unlimited roster spots. A GM cannot ignore impact per roster spot if they are looking to make the playoffs.

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  31. Patrick says:

    Where’s Jhonny?

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  32. Mommy Bloomquist says:

    What ’bout my boy, Willy?

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  33. false dichotomy says:

    Option 3: Tigers think Fister is hiding/playing through an injury.

    If they think he’s about to break, the return makes a lot more sense. This may not be the case, but it’s another rational explanation for the trade.

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  34. Nate says:

    Dave Dombrowski obviously had an unfortunate fisting accident late last year and couldn’t stand having a guy named Fister on the team anymore.

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  35. dave in gb says:

    So how far down the list is the Orioles Jim Johnson for Jemile Weeks trade? I think he was overrated in Baltimore and was easily replaced with Ryan Webb. But couldn’t the Orioles have gotten something other then basically nothing other than a salary dump? He was still a good pitcher.

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  36. Brian Lonsway says:

    I thought Detroit not makeing the qualifying offers to Infante and Peralta were signifigant mistakes.. Peralta would have had some trade value on 1/14…. and I would rather have Infante on 1/14 than Kinsler on 4/60.. especially with Travis, Perez, and Suarez on the way. Horrible offseason for the Tigers

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    • RC says:

      Looking at Kinsler as separate from Fielder is a mistake.

      Kinsler’s deal is probably a negative value as a whole, but its significantly less negative than Fielder’s will be.

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    • Al says:

      But would you rather have Infante at 1/14 instead of Kinsler at 4/60 if it also meant keeping Fielder for 7/168?

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      • Brian Lonsway says:

        If Choo got 130 million.. then detroit eating 30 million of Fielder and making that 7/138… somebody would have been willing to take that on.. but I would have traded Victor for a reliever and kept Fielder.. no point in selling low on prince

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    • Professor Ross Eforp says:

      The Tigers almost certainly would have rather signed Infante to what he got in lieu of trading for Kinsler. The problem is that they had to take Kinsler to get Fielder off the books. I assume this deal was in the works when they declined to offer Infante.

      The Tigers are a less talented team than last year, but they have established some more financial flexibility.

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    • Boris Chinchilla says:

      Why would Peralta accept QO?

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      • Brian Lonsway says:

        Well obviously the best case scenerio would be they both turn it down.. I thought that was obvious.. I was just going over the worst case scenerios.. them both accepting

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  37. John Wayne says:

    Hard to believe, but Lombardozzi/Krol/Ray was actually the biggest package of cost controlled players traded this Winter.

    Those big name players on the trade block, like David Price, probably couldn’t be traded because the asking price was just too high. With the new slotting system in the amateur draft, top prospects will be harder and harder to come by for playoff contending teams. The trade market has changed because of that. Prospects and mlb players with little to no service time become more valuable.

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    • Professor Ross Eforp says:

      It is weird. The Royals way overpaid for Shields last year and then the Nats stole Fister. I prefer Shields to Fister, but their situations are similar enough that the returns should be within range of each other.

      Obviously they weren’t going to get the return the Rays did, and probably not very close, but it is just interesting to see guys in that situation in consecutive offseasons with such different returns.

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      • Professor Ross Eforp says:

        The weirdest part is the Rays ostensibly “had” to trade Shields more than the Tigers “had” to trade Fister.

        Obviously the Rays would have kept him if the return wasn’t right (see Price, David), but trading good MLB players for prospects has been a pretty constant source of talent for Tampa.

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    • Ruki Motomiya says:

      Personally, I think it is because some teams are putting too much emphasis on it and overvaluing them.

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  38. Professor Ross Eforp says:

    If Marlon Byrd gets caught using PED, then the Phillies won’t have to pay him for 1/3 of his contract. They also won’t take away the wins accrued while he is playing (the Giants thank you very much for your contributions, Melky).

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  39. pft says:

    I hope Dave comes back to this after the season because for 2014 at least I think many of these deals are going to work out quite nicely. Teams account for latter years of multi-year deals by discounting the total AAV. Cano for example could be a 4 million per WAR guy this year, or about 12 million in surplus value. Salary inflation takes care of a lot of it as well (eg Cano’s salary in 2021-2023 will cost the equivalent of 15 million per year today).

    The value of an incremental win is simply not the same for all teams. Its much higher for a team with the Yankees revenues and high ticket prices where the difference between being competitive and not being competitive can cost over 50 million.

    Also, teams don’t need to take each contract in isolation and win them all. They can afford to spend on free agents because they can pay players like Trout 50K per win. I think most look at the big picture and total payroll per revenue dollars. They can afford to take a “loss” on a given free agent if their payroll is less than 50% of revenue (or 60% in cases their they have significant profits from their equity stake in RSN’s), especially if that players gives them a couple of “wins” in the early years of the deal.

    Smaller market teams have their own challenges and frequently must overpay free agents to get them to sign. Those who don’t even try end up with payrolls (taking into account revenue sharing dollars) less than 40% of revenues. If they get lucky with the farm system they may be competitive for a few years, but will have a number of bad years after losing that pool for homegrown talent to free agency. Only 1 team in the bottom half of payroll has won the World Series in 19 years.

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  40. Gus says:

    I’m going to go make a sandwich.

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  41. Guest says:

    Getting really tired of the “X team isn’t going to win any time soon so why spend on Y star player” nonsense. Teams have to start somewhere. Not everyone can be some Oakland A’s cheapest-roster-wins sort of scrappy underdog team. The Mariners were absolutely right to go for Cano.

    Give up on USSM, Dave, and just stay here.
    You haven’t been a Mariner fan for years.

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    • Forrest Gumption says:

      Actually, every team SHOULD be the A’s & Rays model.

      The M’s should have gotten Ellsbury & a SP, not Cano, and quit obsessing over 1B/DH types. Morrison, Hart & Smoak are all on the same team when only one of them should be.

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  42. Mike says:

    The problem with Cameron’s analysis is that you only have a limited number of roster spots. A 4 win player is not worth the same as two 2 win players, because you run out of roster spots at 25. Cameron generally doesn’t seem to like overpaying for big players and would rather spend moderately on moderately helpful players, a strategy that loses many a fantasy league every year.

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    • jackson says:

      yes, a 4 win player is worth the same as two 2 win players because if he gets injured, you lose all that value. There’ve been lots of studies, and teams pay linear dollars per WAR

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    • Kogoruhn says:

      The problem with this argument is the asumption that the 4 win player is partnered with another above replacement level player.

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  43. Park Chan ho's beard says:

    I totally agree with you on the Fowler trade, but there is something to point out. Cuddyer has mentioned some sort of partial deafness that makes playing in the IF for him very difficult, so I think a full time move to 1B for him was off the table. Certainly there are better options than trading a good CF and signing a not good 1B, but the Cuddyer move to 1B doesn’t seem to be one of them.

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  44. Gyre says:

    ‘I think Masahiro Tanaka is probably going to be very good.’

    I’ll bet you said that about Daisuke Matsuzaka too.

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    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      …they aren’t similar pitchers. At all. The only point of comparison you can make is that both were born in Japan.

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  45. Eager Young Student says:

    I have one of those earnest sabermetrics for beginner’s questions that a Ralph from the Simpsons type would ask, but does the baseball-reference version of WAR for pitchers account for weak easily fielded grounders vs. wormburners and weak pop-ups vs. say web-gem worthy fly balls? If it doesn’t is there a place which does +/- for pitchers batted balls like they do for fielders? Or is the consensus that all balls in play are luck?

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    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      To calculate WAR, Baseball-Reference takes a pitcher’s RA9 (Runs Allowed/9 innings) and adjusts it for team defense and strength of opponent to how an average pitcher would have performed.

      It then derives its quantity from how the pitcher in question performed in comparison to said hypothetical average pitcher.

      DIPS Theory (that all balls in play are luck) is very much not the consensus among Sabermetricians.

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  46. jg941 says:

    Dave – seems a little illogical that ZIPs would project Marlon Byrd at 2.1 WAR this year, but Fangraphs would assess his 2 year/$16 million deal as one of the ten worst of the offseason, given that it might almost pay for itself in the first year alone (another half-win would fully do that in 2014). The conclusion doesn’t seem to be supported by your own projections, FWIW.

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