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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Anibal Sanchez Stays With Tigers

Free-agent right-hander Anibal Sanchez has reached agreement on a five-year, $80 million deal with the Detroit Tigers, agent Gene Mato confirmed to ESPN.com Friday.

Sanchez, 28, is 48-51 with a 3.75 career ERA for the Tigers and Miami Marlins. He was regarded by many observers as the second-most attractive starting pitcher on this winter’s free-agent market, behind Zack Greinke, who agreed to a six-year, $147 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this week.

I thought the actual signing deserved its own thread. Is this a good deal? Is Anibal the best #4 SP in baseball? Is a Porcello trade imminent? Is Brayan Pena the final piece?

Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: December 15, 2012 at 11:33 AM | 23 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: tigers

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   1. Dan Posted: December 15, 2012 at 01:43 PM (#4325517)
Not to derail the thread, but why Peña as a backup for Avila? Wouldn't a lefty masher like Shoppach have made more sense?
   2. cardsfanboy Posted: December 15, 2012 at 01:54 PM (#4325526)
Not to derail the thread, but why Peña as a backup for Avila? Wouldn't a lefty masher like Shoppach have made more sense?


Because teams don't use a backup catcher as a platoon partner. If you set up a platoon, situation that means the other team controls when you play your catchers, and teams don't want that. They prefer to have the backup catcher to be the caddy for one of the pitchers so that you get your starter a semi-consistent day off every fifth day and your backup gets a good feel for that fifth starter.
   3. Danny Posted: December 15, 2012 at 01:58 PM (#4325529)
There are 20 pitchers have put up 11+ fWAR over the past three seasons, and the Tigers have 4 of them. And the mean of those 12 pitcher-seasons is 4.6 fWAR. #######.
   4. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 15, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4325534)
I did a hardly-comprehensive play index study of Sanchez-style pitchers and 4-5 year contracts. In the sample I looked at, years 4-5 are pretty much money you give away to get the pitcher for the first couple years.

Sanchez has thrown 598 IP from 2010-2012 and put up 9 WAR. I did a little play-index search for pitchers between the ages of 26-30, who over the previous three seasons threw at least 500 IP and put up 7-11 WAR. I then looked for their numbers four and five years out. I did this for two cohorts, one from 2002-2004 (checking their 2008-2009 numbers) and one from 2005-2007 (checking their 2011-2012 numbers). These pitchers averaged 9 WAR, 110 ERA+, and 598 IP - just about exactly Sanchez's three-year numbers. These are the pitchers:

2002-2004: Livan Hernandez, Kip Wells, Matt Clement, Odalis Perez, Javier Vazquez, Jarrod Washburn, Rodrigo Lopez, Mark Redman, Freddy Garcia, Sidney Ponson

2005-2007: Dan Haren, Brad Penny, Chris Young, AJ Burnett, Barry Zito, Javier Vazquez, Joe Blanton

In year 4, these pitchers averages 111 IP with a 91 ERA+ for an average of 0.5 WAR per pitcher-season. There were three legitimately good seasons out of 17: Dan Haren 2011 with 4 WAR and 240 IP stands out, and Javier Vazquez in 2011 and 2008 had typical above average Javier Vazquez 200 IP seasons. Odalis Perez had an averageish 160 IP in 2008, too. Beyond that there there two missed seasons, five seasons of <50 IP, and none of >1 WAR.

In year 5, these pitchers averaged 92 IP, 93 ERA+, 0.3 WAR. The only above average season was Javier Vazquez' Cy Young contending 2009, but more striking the only two seasons that could be considered good at all were Vazquez's 2009 and Burnett's 2012 (1.9 WAR, 106 ERA+ in 200 IP). The next best seasons were 60 good innings from a rehabbing Freddy Garcia in 2009 and 100 mediocre innings from a rehabbing Chris Young last year. Four pitchers (2009 Matt Clement, Odalis Perez, and Mark Redman, 2012 Javier Vazquez) were out of baseball entirely, and all of the rest were below replacement level.

Based on this sample, you don't pay merely above average pitchers for their projection in years 4-5. It could be a relatively unhappy sample, but I'm betting that most above averageish pitchers don't project to do much four years out.
   5. Dan Posted: December 15, 2012 at 02:17 PM (#4325540)
Because teams don't use a backup catcher as a platoon partner. If you set up a platoon, situation that means the other team controls when you play your catchers, and teams don't want that. They prefer to have the backup catcher to be the caddy for one of the pitchers so that you get your starter a semi-consistent day off every fifth day and your backup gets a good feel for that fifth starter.
\

This is an interesting argument, but I'm not sure that it really applies here since Leyland has already shown that he's willing to platoon Avila. Avila was pretty heavily platooned for most of the second half of last year with Gerald Laird. This is evident if you look at Laird's game logs for 2012, and at least in the last 2+ months, Laird's starts almost all come as he subs for Avila against opponent LHSP, and aren't determined at all by who is pitching for the Tigers. Obviously he also gets some starts against RHP when Avila is banged up, or in day games after night games, etc., but he takes a large percentage of the starts against LHP regardless of those criteria.
   6. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 15, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4325542)
I'm not seeing how this is better than going with Porcello and signing Soriano. If they don't like Porcello's GB and low K style they could trade him for someone who better fits their style, like....well I dunno....Bud Norris or Tim Lincecum or Ubaldo Jimenez or Jake Peavy or Matt Garza or Josh Beckett.
   7. Danny Posted: December 15, 2012 at 02:46 PM (#4325559)
I'm not seeing how this is better than going with Porcello and signing Soriano.

Aren't they going with Porcello as the 5th starter?
   8. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 15, 2012 at 02:48 PM (#4325560)
They also have Smyly. The rumors have been they plan to trade Porcello.
   9. Danny Posted: December 15, 2012 at 03:23 PM (#4325592)
2002-2004: Livan Hernandez, Kip Wells, Matt Clement, Odalis Perez, Javier Vazquez, Jarrod Washburn, Rodrigo Lopez, Mark Redman, Freddy Garcia, Sidney Ponson

2005-2007: Dan Haren, Brad Penny, Chris Young, AJ Burnett, Barry Zito, Javier Vazquez, Joe Blanton

I think Sanchez should project to be better than this group due to 1) peripherals, and 2) stronger recent performance.

Here's where Sanchez's 2010-2012 fWAR ranks compared to those guys' 2002-2004 or 2005-2007 fWAR

Javier Vazquez, 13.6
Dan Haren, 12.9
Javier Vazquez, 12.7
Anibal Sanchez, 12.0
Livan Hernandez, 12.0
Joe Blanton, 11.4
Brad Penny, 10.9
AJ Burnett, 10.9
Matt Clement, 10.4
Freddy Garcia, 10.1
Mark Redman, 9.6
Sidney Ponson, 9.5
Odalis Perez, 8.6
Chris Young, 8.3
Jarrod Washburn, 8.1
Rodrigo Lopez, 6.9
Barry Zito, 6.8
Kip Wells, 6.8

So, using FIP instead of RA makes Sanchez look like a better bet than most of the guys he's being compared to. Actual run prevention certainly matters, but I don't think a 3-year sample is enough to make RA and IP a better forecasting tool than FIP and IP.
   10. Bug Selig Posted: December 15, 2012 at 03:36 PM (#4325599)
They also have Smyly. The rumors have been they plan to trade Porcello.


Why do people keep assuming that having 6 (or even 7 or 8) usable starting pitchers is a bad thing? The tone of the articles I've seen has been (and I realize this is subjective) "Now that Sanchez is back, Porcello has to go!" If the approach was more "Now that the Tigers have a relative surplus of SP, maybe they could use Pocello as a trade chit to shore up SS, 4th OF, or the bullpen. He is, let us not forget, a 23-year old (24 later this month) with 48 wins in the big leagues, and those don't grow on trees" I'd feel a little better.

I'll go along with giving Smyly first shot at the 5th spot because he strikes people out and that's pretty important when your defense is built around the assumption that nobody will ever hit the ball.

The "must go" tone has me assuming he'll get dealt for the new Ryan Raburn, and keeping him would be far superior to that.
   11. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: December 15, 2012 at 04:34 PM (#4325621)
Based on this sample, you don't pay merely above average pitchers for their projection in years 4-5. It could be a relatively unhappy sample, but I'm betting that most above averageish pitchers don't project to do much four years out.


I doubt Mike Ilitch cares about four years from now. This is one of those situations where the owner of a team seems to have a finite amount of cash and genuinely wants to bring the city a championship before he kicks the bucket.
   12. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 15, 2012 at 04:49 PM (#4325633)
These pitchers averaged 9 WAR, 110 ERA+, and 598 IP


I think your use of averages is problematic. If I take 2 starters, one who put up 15 WAR and 130 ERA+ over 3 seasons of 700 innings, and 1 who totaled 3 WAR and a 95 ERA+ over 3 seasons of 500 innings, my group can also average 9 WAR, 110 ERA+, and 600 IP.

Then I can say my group has a 50% bust rate in year 1 of their next deal.

It's better to build a group where the members are within a reasonable deviation of Sanchez in value, i.e. WAR and ignore junk stats like ERA+ altogether since it's poorer version of WAR that ignores RA, IP, etc. Then control the group by using IP, ensuring they are all within a reasonable deviation of Sanchez in IP (so you aren't comparing a fragile 160 inning flamethrower to a durable 220 inning pitcher with less ability) so you have some claim to the group being similar "types" in ability.

In year 4, these pitchers averages 111 IP with a 91 ERA+ for an average of 0.5 WAR per pitcher-season.


In year 5, these pitchers averaged 92 IP, 93 ERA+, 0.3 WAR. The


And it's better to use medians or break into sub groups here, since they lend themselves better to estimating the value of logical choices. If the year 4 group disintegrates into five 50 IP 80 ERA+ failures, and five 172 IP 104 ERA+ decent rotation fillers, a GM may perceive the results far differently than if given the average.
   13. Spahn Insane Posted: December 15, 2012 at 04:57 PM (#4325637)
I won't believe the headline til I read Bob Nightengale's confirmation.
   14. Esoteric Posted: December 15, 2012 at 04:58 PM (#4325638)
I'm not seeing how this is better than going with Porcello and signing Soriano.
I didn't know Alfonso Soriano was available.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: December 15, 2012 at 04:59 PM (#4325641)
It's better to build a group where the members are within a reasonable deviation of Sanchez in value

You mean something like:

pitchers between the ages of 26-30, who over the previous three seasons threw at least 500 IP and put up 7-11 WAR
   16. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 15, 2012 at 05:00 PM (#4325642)
The fWAR numbers are interesting - every one of the good y4/y5 seasons were pitched by pitchers in the top half in fWAR. (Though three of the five good y4/y5 seasons were pitched by Javier Vazquez.) The use of bWAR may be the problem here.

That said, I think KT/Arb didn't really follow what I did.
It's better to build a group where the members are within a reasonable deviation of Sanchez in value, i.e. WAR
I did precisely that. Pitchers about the same age as Sanchez, within 2 WAR over three seasons, who all had sufficient IP within 100.
And it's better to use medians or break into sub groups here, since they lend themselves better to estimating the value of logical choices.
I listed off all the relevant results in the paragraphs you deleted. There were a very small number of successes.
   17. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 15, 2012 at 05:11 PM (#4325647)
If the approach was more "Now that the Tigers have a relative surplus of SP, maybe they could use Pocello as a trade chit to shore up SS, 4th OF, or the bullpen

Trading Porcello for Luke Gregerson, Alexi Amarista and Will Venable or the equivalent seems a worse idea than keeping him and signing Soriano. The good thing is that they can still sign Soriano even having signed Sanchez.
   18. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: December 15, 2012 at 05:11 PM (#4325648)

I'm not seeing how this is better than going with Porcello and signing Soriano.


1) I'd much rather have one very good SP and one averageish one than one 50 inning pitcher and one averageish SP

2) The Tigers have several relievers in-house who could close (I'd prefer Alburquerque get the shot)

3) Rafael Soriano costs a first round pick

If they don't like Porcello's GB and low K style they could trade him for someone who better fits their style, like....well I dunno....Bud Norris or Tim Lincecum or Ubaldo Jimenez or Jake Peavy or Matt Garza or Josh Beckett.

Or they could sign Anibal Sanchez, which allows them to both replace Porcello with a better pitcher and then trade Porcello for something else they need. Or keep Porcello and have enviable rotation depth.
   19. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: December 15, 2012 at 05:15 PM (#4325651)

Trading Porcello for Luke Gregerson, Alexi Amarista and Will Venable or the equivalent seems a worse idea than keeping him and signing Soriano.

I think Porcello's trade value is higher than this. It's also possible they could package Porcello with Jhonny Peralta or one of the good OF prospects to get a player that could really help.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: December 15, 2012 at 05:32 PM (#4325657)
I wouldn't focus on years 4 & 5 necessarily ... although it's interesting that it coincides ... because any 4-5 year deal for a pitcher, you pretty much assume they're going to get hurt in one of those years. Probably better to look at value over the whole 5 years although I don't think the results will change very much. If the Tigers wanted Sanchez, they clearly had no choice but to go 5 years. One can argue they're better standing pat or better grabbing somebody like Jackson for a shorter period.

The other question is whether this is different for any other type of pitcher. Just for kicks, here are pitchers who totalled over 11 WAR from 2005-7 and were no older than 30 in 2007:

Santana, Oswalt, Webb, Harang, Lackey, Halladay, Zambrano, Wang, Kazmir, Buehrle, Beckett, Peavy, Sabathia, Arroyo, Garland, Willis, Bedard

Look at that list. The only one still performing at that level is Sabathia. You're better off in 2012 with Harang, Buehrle, Beckett and Arroyo (the ones more similar to Sanchez) than with the studs. And while Peavy came back this year, he's missed a good chunk of the last 5. Halladay was a stud until getting hurt this year but some of these guys have been pretty much useless for years and up to 8 of the 17 might not pitch in the majors in 2013.

Post-2007 WAR

Santana 14.5 (.1 for 11-12)
Oswalt 13.3 (neg WAR 2012)
Webb 5.2 (4 IP 09-12)
Harang 3.6
Lackey 4.3 (neg WAR in 11, nothing in 12)
Halladay 30 (.7 in 12)
Zambrano 10 (.8 total 11-12)
Wang -0.6 (only 230 IP 08-12)
Kazmir 2.6 (450 IP 08-12)
Buehrle 20
Beckett 13 (seasons of -1.1 and .7)
Peavy 13 (seasons of 1.5, 1.4 and .9)
CC 27
Arroyo 8.1 (seasons of 1.3 and -1.2)
Garland 3 (nothing in 11-12)
Willis -2 (nothing in 12)
Bedard 3.3 (-.8 in 12)

Guys who performed consistently and are still healthy are CC and Buehrle. Beckett, Arroyo and Zambrano at least stayed healthy. And of course Halladay performed so well from 2008-11 that anything in 2012 really was just gravy.

I doubt there's anything special about a "Sanchez type" of pitcher and 5-year contracts. No pitcher is a good bet on a 5-year contract. But then 8 of these 17 blew up/declined almost immediately so even a 3-year contract was hardly a guarantee. So it goes.
   21. Bug Selig Posted: December 15, 2012 at 05:37 PM (#4325661)
Trading Porcello for Luke Gregerson, Alexi Amarista and Will Venable or the equivalent seems a worse idea than keeping him and signing Soriano.


I think we have different ideas about what "shore up" means:-)

That's basically the "Ryan Raburn" level player that I dismissed in the original post, but 3 of them. Signing Soriano for anything close to what he's asking is a bad idea regardless of any other moves that one wants to combine it with.
   22. Walt Davis Posted: December 15, 2012 at 05:56 PM (#4325671)
Interesting coincidence ...

Totalling the WAR for those 17 pitchers in my post, I get 168. So an average of 10 WAR over 5 years. Take the most valuable pitchers in the game from 2005-7 and, over the next 5 years, you get an "average" group of pitchers. How depressing is that? And to reiterate KT's point, nearly half of that total value came from 3 pitchers.

3 times you would have won the bet
5-6 times you wouldn't have lost too bad (Arroyo being #6)
half the time you crap out

When you throw in money, some of those don't look too bad. Oswalt and Beckett never made super-big money; for Peavy this still includes a couple of his pre-FA years. The super big money guys are CC, Halladay and Santana and even Santana wasn't a disaster ($100 M for those 14.5 WAR).

Most of the rest were bad values but, in part due to age and in part due to bad timing, they generally weren't disasters. Lackey is the major flub here (and still has a couple of years to go) and Z cost about $9 M per WAR.

   23. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 15, 2012 at 06:49 PM (#4325709)
That said, I think KT/Arb didn't really follow what I did.


i'm not sure what the disconnect was, it could have been me not reading your entire post, but that would leave me with the entire blame, so that cant be it.

I guess it will have to forever remain a mystery. If I wasnt a flaming a-hole I would end by saying nice work, and thank you for taking time to share it.

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