Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New MLB CBA: The Rich have an easier time getting richer

First, the boring, gory details.


Highlights from MLB Trade Rumors

The new agreement is terrible for low revenue teams.

There are numerous restrictions on spending for amateur players (the draft, international free agents).  Amateur players are one place where low revenue teams have a competitive advantage against large market teams.

Here's a list of how much teams spent on draft bonuses in 2011.  You'll see teams like the Pirates, Royals, Rays at the top of the list.

Here's a list of international signing bonuses.  Again, Pirates, A's, Twins, Astros at the top.

Obviously, high-revenue teams are going to have an advantage signing major league players.  These players are also less risky.  If you pay $10 million a year for Rafael Soriano you have a much better idea of what you're going to get out of him than if you give a $3 million bonus to a 16 year old kid from the Dominican.

High revenue teams don't need to take as many risks on amateur players because they can sign more stable major league players.

Low revenue teams aren't going to be signing the best players and have to take risks on players in the draft and international free agents.  Spending $2 million on a player that might bust or might turn into Miguel Cabrera is their most efficient way to acquire star players.

The new CBA limits their ability to do that.

Friday, November 18, 2011

2012 Free Agent Team

Building a team from scratch using all free agents.  Get Boras' number on your speed dial.

I set myself a $100 million payroll limit and tried to estimate what each free agent would sign for.

I used the following as references

This is the team that I came up with

First, this was hard.  $100 mils don't but what they used to.  It also shows the importance of having cost-controlled players on your roster.

There were 2 starting catchers on the free agent market.  Hernandez and Barajas.  As a Dodger fan I've had enough of Barajas.  Max Ramirez is a minor league free agent.  He played for every team last season.  He was a highly touted prospect at one point.  Just 27 next year there's a miniscule chance he figures it out.

First Base
Prince Fielder.  My hypothetical team won't be around in 5 years when concerns about Prince's aging due to his physique will likely be manifesting.   My team was light on offense.  Prince changes that.

Second Base
The Baltimore Orioles are about to let the cat out of the bag on Matt Antonelli.  I think he can play.  He's raked all over the minor leagues.  I don't know what the O's are paying him, but I'll match it.

Third Base
Wilson Betemit.  A little scary over there.  Betemit can hit, but the defense is ugly.  I still think he's underrated and can provide value in excess of his contract.

I'm not gambling on Reyes or Rollins.  I'll take the steady production of Clint Barmes.

Backup Infielder
Esteban German.  Mostly because I can get him on a minor league deal, I think.  He's got a bit of history of being able to play.  He's right-handed, so he can hit for Betemit against lefties.

Left Field
Always been a fan of the underrated DeJesus.  I finally have my chance to sign him.  Hopefully, it's not too late as age is starting to show. He's still a plus defender in left and can survive in center.

Center Field
Covelli 'Coco' Crisp.  It's him, Sizemore, or Ankiel.  I think Coco has the best chance of spending some productive time on the field.

Right Field
Josh Willingham.  My other player who can hit.  My pitching staff won't like all the runners advancing to 3rd on singles to right, but whatcha gonna do?

Backup Outfielders
DeWayne Wise.  Remember this?  Wise can play some D.  For the minimum salary, I'll take it.

Utility Players
Jerry Hairston.  One of the few utility players that can actually play defense at multiple positions as opposed to just standing there with a glove on.  If Antonelli flops, Hairston can take over at 2nd as well.
Ryan Doumit.  One of those utility players that just stands there with a glove on.  I'm more interested in his batting gloves though.  A left-handed hitter off the bench is always useful.  As is someone who can squat behind the plate.  He'll get some time in the OF and if Prince skips the game for the buffet.

Starting Pitching
This is where it's really hard.  I thought about blowing my money on CJ Wilson instead of Prince, but thought that was actually even riskier.  Pretty sure Prince will put up at least a few big seasons.

The number 1 guy that I knew I wanted was Jeff Francis.  Three straight years of an ERA around 5 will scare off some teams so I can get him below his actual worth.

Now I have to go injury guys.  Bedard and Harden.  Not gonna build a strong pitching staff on this budget without taking some risks.  If these guys can stay healthy for 120 or 150 innings they can put up value well in excess of their salary.

I filled out the rest of my roster then came back to this spot.  What pitcher could I get for around $10 million.  I offer a 1 year $7 million contract with an option for another year to a bunch of guys.  Whoever accepts it first gets it.  Marquis and Pineiro should be happy with that.  And when they pitch I can put Doumit in the OF.

Doug Davis.  Can you give me one more year old man?  The 6.50 ERA last year says, "no".  The 100 total innings pitched last year and 4.50-4.80 ERA estimators say, "maybe".  If not, Kenshin Kawakami will be a phone call away in AAA.

I'm not really gonna mess with hit.  I'll invite a bunch of guys to spring training on minimum deals and see who can make the team.  Maybe it'll be some of those guys I listed, maybe it won't.

There you go, $100 million in free agents.  Using some very quick WAR projections, I get my team winning about 78 games.  I tried to be overly conservative, so maybe this is a .500 team.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Contract Analysis: Jamey Carroll

Not to suggest that Minnesota is not the most interesting place in the world...

They've signed Jamey Carroll for 2 years and $7 million.

The Dodger's were panned when they signed Carroll for 2 years and $3.8 million.  Now he's making twice that per year.

He certainly helped himself with his play in LA.  Prior to coming to LA Carroll averaged 1.8 fWAR per 500 plate appearances.   In his 2 years in LA he averaged 2.4 fWAR per 500 plate appearances.  The increase was mostly with the bat.  Prior to LA Carroll offense as measured by wRC+ was 15% less than the league average.  With LA he hit 5% better than the league average.  Colletti certainly got his money's worth.  Will new Twins' GM Terry Ryan get the same return?

It's hard to predict a player playing his age 38 and 39 seasons will improve upon what he's done.  It's hard to say that that player will remain the same.

Let's assume that Carroll's offense will hold constant.  He didn't have any crazy BABIPs.  He hit line drives.  He took walks.  He made contact.  No out of control power numbers.  In fact, Carroll's 2010 and 2011 numbers are pretty similar to his career numbers.  Is increase relative to the league, is because the league average decreased.  I think this makes it more likely that Carroll keeps on chugging along.

Defense may be a different story.  Apparently, Carroll will be the Twins' starting SS.

Carroll was signed to be a backup IFer with LA.  He ended up playing more than was likely expected since Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, and Juan Uribe couldn't stay healthy. Carroll played: 770 innings at 2B, 73 innings at 3rd and 1080 innings at SS.  That's not a lot of innings but:

2010 2B: UZR/150 = 11.4
2010 SS: UZR/150 = 4

2011 2B: UZR/150 = -8
2011 SS: UZR/150 = -6

A weighted average gives us -2 UZR/150 at 2B and -1 UZR/150 at SS.

That both went from positive to negative is a concern.

According to Tom Tango's Fan Scouting Report
In 2011 Carroll rated 3.34 on a scale of 1 - 5
In 2010 Carroll rated 3.45 on a scale of 1 - 5

Not much difference there.

Hard to draw too many conclusions about his defense.

On to the chart...

If Carroll gets 500 PA's I expect him to be worth about 2 fWAR.  He put up 2.2 fWAR in 510 PA's last year.  He seems to be able to defy aging, so instead of the .5 WAR dropoff I'm taking .25 WAR off in 2013.  Assuming $5.25 million per WAR and 5% inflation, we get the following:

*Click to make bigger

The Twins can expect $13 million of surplus value from Carroll.  That's a lot of leeway.  Carroll would only need to put up 1.3 WAR this year to earn the money for both years of his contract (1.3*5.25=7).  So there's not much risk for the Twins.

Even if Carroll falls apart he sure to be an upgrade over what happened last year.  Twins shortstops (Trevor Plouffe, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Matt Tolbert, and Alexi Casilla) combined to hit .238/.292/.320 and produce -1.4 WAR (prorated by innings at SS).

Carroll hit .290/.368/.344 for reference.  Spending $3.5 million this year for a 3.5 WAR improvement is pretty efficient use of resources.  We won't talk about the $3 million they are paying Nishioka.

Carroll is certainly a better player than Juan Rivera and Rod Barajas.  2011 Dodgers who both signed for 2 years and $8 million this week.

It'll be interesting to see how the market for guys like Clint Barmes and Jerry Hairston pans out.  

Contract Analysis: Jonathan Papelbon

The Phillies are apparently close to signing Jonathan Phapelbon for 4 years and $50 million.

This after a reported 4 year $44 million deal for Ryan Madson didn't materialize yesterday.

This seems like a lot of money for a reliever.

Papelbon has averaged about 66 innings a year over the last 6 seasons.  At that rate Papelbon will pitch (66*4) 264 innings with the Phils.  Or about 20 innings more than what Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander or CC Sabathia will give you in 1 season.  Halladay is the best pitching in baseball.  Anyone think Halladay is worth $50 million a season?

Now, to be fair, Papelbon does pitch more highly leveraged innings than Halladay.   This is measured by pLI

Halladay's pLI for last season was 1.1.  His career pLI is 1.05.  A number greater than 1 means that he's been involved in slightly higher leverage than average (1.0) situations.
Papelbon's pLI for last season was 1.69.  His career pLI is 1.83.  His pLI in 2009 and 2010 was over 2.00.

Papelbon has produced 15.1 WAR in 429.3 career innings.  That's 2.3 WAR / 66 innings
Halladay has produced 69.8 WAE in 2531 career innings.  That's 1.8 WAR / 66 innings

Maybe there is some evidence that Papelbon should be paid a higher per inning rate than Halladay.  But over twice as much?

On to the chart...

*Click to inPHlate the size of

The chart assumes that the value of 1 WAR is $5.25 million (5% more than last season) and inflation continues at 5% per year.  It also assumes that Papelbon produces 2.5 WAR in 2012 and 2013 and decreases to 2.0 WAR in 2014 and 2015.  I feel that this is an optimistic prediction.

With those parameters we get Papelbon's expected production to be almost exactly $50 million.  Remember, that's if everything goes right.  Papelbon has to pitch, for the next 4 seasons, at a level greater than he's pitched the previous six years.

Now, the Phillies do have a lot of money.  They are in a position to try and win now with a core of Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Utley, Howard, Pence, Victorino, Chooch, etc so they do have more reason to 'go for it' than some other teams.

They also have to find a shortstop, outfielder, and part-time first baseman for next season.

An aggressive move for Philly.

For kicks, let's see how the numbers would have looked with Madson.

Madson has produced 1.3 WAR per 66 innings over the last 4 seasons.  Quite a bit less than Papelbon.

If we re-create the chart with Madson as a 1.5 WAR pitcher this year and next and 1 WAR in both 2014 and 2015 we get:

*Click to make Madsoningly larger

Madson produces 5 WAR worth $28 million while being paid $44 million, putting the Phillies $16 million in the hole.

Maybe Phillie Phans should be dancing a little jig

OTHER Contract Analyses:
Willie Bloomquist
Ryan Braun
Adrian Gonzalez (plus Mark Teixeira and Ryan Howard)
Clay Buchholz

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Contract Analysis: Willie Bloomquist

The DBacks and Willie Bloomquist agreed to a 2-year $3.8 million deal today.

Pretty meh deal.

Bloomquist has produced 1.3 WAR in 845 career games.  That's about .3 WAR per a full season (prorated for 600 PAs).

He's got no bat, career .317 OBP and .337 SLG (almost exactly the same last year) which is 21% below the league average offensively.

His glove isn't much either.  -20 career runs by UZR and a 45 out of 100 on Tom Tango's Fan Scouting Report.

He's considered a utility player and played 2B, SS and the OF for the DBacks last year.  However, his OF defense is -13 runs per 150 games according to UZR.  His play in the infield is about average (1.2 and -0.9 at 2B and SS respectively).  If the DBacks left him as a backup IFer he might be worth half a win over a season.

Hard to imagine the DBacks don't have someone in the minors who could provide half of a win at a quarter of the cost.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Trade analysis: Melky Cabrera for Jonathan Sanchez


Pretty even trade in my mind.

Both teams are dealing from a position of strength:
The Giants have Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Vogelsong and Zito in the starting rotation
The Royals have Gordon and Francoeur in left field and right field.  Rookie Lorenzo Cain, picked up in the Greinke trade, figures to get his shot in CF.

Both teams are receiving a position of weakness
All Giants outfielders combined produced just a few more WAR than Melky's 4.2 last year.
Royals' starters were among the worst in the AL in ... well ... about every stat.

Both players are going into their final arbitration years.  Melky made $1.25 million last year and figures to make around $4 million this year.  Sanchez made $4.8 million and will probably make around $6 million this year.

Melky is coming off of the best season of his career.  Sanchez is coming off of the worst of his.

I'm a bigger Melkman supporter than most, but I don't expect him to repeat his 2011 where he hit .339/.470 with 44 doubles, 5 triples and 18 home runs.  Melky's 2011 slugging percentage was about 24% higher than his career average.   Melky is probably more of a 2-3 WAR player than a 5 WAR player.  That's still better than anyone the Giants rolled out in 2011.

Sanchez has been a pretty steady contributor since becoming a full time starter in 2008, averaging 2.4 fWAR per season.  Last year was derailed due to some injuries.  Sanchez' injury was to his ankle, not his arm, so he's more likely to come back without too much attrition.

The most likely outcome of this trade is both players put up about 2.5 WAR while being paid between $4 and $6 million.

Melky is a little cheaper, and hitters are surer things than pitchers, generally.  So San Fran throws in another prospect, Ryan Verdugo, to make up the difference.

Verdugo is a 24 year old AA lefty pitcher.  He started 25 games last year, but was a reliever previously. As a reliever he had high strikeout rates (35%) while also walking his share (15%).  As a starter, both rates dropped (24% K's and 11% walks).  As a starter he doesn't look like more than a #5.

To sum up.  Two teams improve weaknesses by dealing equally valuable players from a position of strength.

Baseball America: Minor League Free Agents 2011

Baseball America has compiled a list of the 537 minor league players who were granted free agency on November 2nd.

A few interesting names:

Guys you've heard of division:
Mark Prior
Kenshin Kawakami
Kei Igawa

Former prospects who didn't pan out:
Andy Marte
Brandon Wood
Jeff Clemente
Scott Moore

Guys with some major league experience division:
Andy Tracy
Angel Berroa
Ruben Gotay
Brendon Harris
Royce Ring
Brett Carroll
Corky Miller
Nick Johnson
John Maine
Willy Taveras
Jorge Cantu
Chris Aguila
Jeff Supan
Mark DeFelice
Mike Lamb
Dave Bush
Josh Barfield
Scott Podsednik
Pedro Feliz
Bobby Kielty
Travis Ishikawa
Nate Robertson
Manny Corpas
Kyle Davies

Guys with amusing names division:
Gookie Dawkins
Chris Jakubauskas
Austin Bibens-Dirkx
Ian Gac
Joe Bonadonna
Boof Bonser
Sharlon Schoop
Jetsy Extrano

Guys with famous lineages division:
Mark Worrell
Koby Clemens
Preston Mattingly
Toby Gardenhire

Players I'd most like my team to sign division:
Matt Antonelli
Max Ramirez
Kenshin Kawakami

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

MLBTR 2011 Free Agent and Trade Market Series