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Saturday, February 02, 2013

Barbarisi: Mark Teixeira Comes to Terms with Losing a Step

Tex’s swing fixin’ to ride off into the sunset...

He looks back now at the seasons he had when he was younger—hitting .280 to .300, averaging more than 40 doubles, 35 homers, and 120 RBI, like clockwork—and what sticks out the most is how simple, how easy it felt.

“I looked at the first six or seven years of my career, I was in my 20s, it was easy. I wasn’t searching for the right formula. To think that I’m going to get remarkably better, as I get older and breaking down a little bit more, it’s not going to happen,” Teixeira said.

That makes sense. It’s the way it’s supposed to work: The years affect us all, and that is starkest for those who age in front of our eyes. But in baseball, where every player arrives at spring training having found the panacea that will make this the best year of their career, to hear a star player acknowledge the obvious sounds downright alien.

“Maybe I’m slowing down a tick. Look, I’m not going to play forever. Eventually you start, I don’t want to say declining, but it gets harder and harder to put up 30 [homers] and 100 [RBI],” Teixeira said.

This winter, Teixeira is accepting his new normal. After three seasons that for him would be considered down years, Teixeira is done tinkering with new ideas, done chasing a perpetual peak. If he is a .250 hitter, so be it. He is embracing his strengths—30-homer power, 90-walk patience, Gold Glove defense—and forgetting his weaknesses, on what he openly calls the backside of his career.

“This is my 11th year,” Teixeira said. “I’m not going to play 10 more years. I want 5 or 6 good ones. So that would say I’m on the backside of my career. And instead of trying to do things differently on the backside of my career, why not focus on the things I do well, and try to be very good at that?”

...“I have no problem with anybody in New York, any fan, saying you’re overpaid. Because I am,” Teixeira said. “We all are.”

“Agents are probably going to hate me for saying it,” he continued. “You’re not very valuable when you’re making $20 million. When you’re Mike Trout, making the minimum, you are crazy valuable. My first six years, before I was a free agent, I was very valuable. But there’s nothing you can do that can justify a $20 million contract.”

Repoz Posted: February 02, 2013 at 12:36 PM | 33 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: yankees

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   1. ColonelTom Posted: February 02, 2013 at 01:23 PM (#4360697)
That interview is a good opening gambit for a GM's job. Perhaps impolitic for a player, but absolutely correct.
   2. GregD Posted: February 02, 2013 at 01:34 PM (#4360704)
This is an incredible and also foolish interview. Cue the tabloid columnists and talk show hosts in 4...3...2...
   3. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: February 02, 2013 at 01:37 PM (#4360705)
I wasn’t searching for the right formula.

"... but once I landed in New York, the right formula 'found' me."
   4. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 02, 2013 at 01:49 PM (#4360712)
This is an incredible and also foolish interview. Cue the tabloid columnists and talk show hosts in 4...3...2...

It may be politically foolish, and it may be contrary to the sacred market principle of willing buyer, willing seller, but what he's saying also happens to be true by any other normal standard. And the fact that a few movie stars or rock singers or a slew of corporate CEOs might be even more overpaid doesn't negate this.
   5. boteman digs the circuit clout Posted: February 02, 2013 at 01:52 PM (#4360715)
So that would say I’m on the backside of my career.

He shouldn't be saying "backside" anywhere in the vicinity of A-Rod right about now.

Also, I bet Cashman is on the phone 2 seconds after this was published.
   6. The District Attorney Posted: February 02, 2013 at 02:02 PM (#4360724)
I suppose what I'm about to say is obvious, but if we accept basic capitalism (i.e. people are paid based on the marginal revenue they bring in, rather than by some central authority determining how much their job contributes to society), then there's no reason Mark Teixeira couldn't theoretically be worth $20 million. If the Yankee franchise can bring in $400 million last year and be worth $2 billion overall, then surely an individual player can be worth $20 million a year. Now, Mark Teixeira specifically probably isn't because he's not all that great anymore.
   7. Howie Menckel Posted: February 02, 2013 at 02:34 PM (#4360740)

Kobe Bryant has been underpaid for sure at $20M or so - the Lakers have made a fortune, and he has a HUGE amount to do with it. Michael Jordan was underpaid at that level as well.

Tougher to justify in baseball, admittedly.
   8. BDC Posted: February 02, 2013 at 02:42 PM (#4360747)
Good point, DA. If you lead the league in HR and RBI while the Yankees win their first World Series in nine years, you have played a huge role in securing the billions the team will bring in over the following decade. It's hard to completely measure and apportion. Some players certainly don't earn their millions. Teixeira will be paid $180M, a lot, but he's helped bring in a heck of a lot. He just might.
   9. vortex of dissipation Posted: February 02, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4360748)
FC Barcelona's revenues were $602 million last year. What is Lionel Messi worth?
   10. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: February 02, 2013 at 02:47 PM (#4360750)

Kobe Bryant has been underpaid for sure at $20M or so - the Lakers have made a fortune, and he has a HUGE amount to do with it. Michael Jordan was underpaid at that level as well.


If Jordan was underpaid just imagine how badly the league underpaid the officials who protected him on the court.
   11. KronicFatigue Posted: February 02, 2013 at 03:32 PM (#4360764)
I RTFA, but I'm not exactly sure what Tex was saying. Is he claiming that 1) all athletes (other than the cost-controlled Trouts of the world) are overpaid, or 2) that superstar veterans are overpaid b/c of the timing of Free Agency vs. age decline, or 3) that he personally is overpaid b/c he personally is declining, 4) or that a 20 million dollar player isn't "valuable" b/c you can't squeeze much more value of a player than that.

Seems like a lot of the above comments believe it was Option 1, but I read it as Option 4 with maybe hints of #2. He's not "valuable" at 20 million b/c he's only generating maybe 18-22 million in revenue. But a cost controlled player could generate 10-15 million at the minimum. Using Tex and Trout as specific examples is bad b/c of Trout's excellence, but I'm talking generally.
   12. Gold Star - just Gold Star Posted: February 02, 2013 at 04:17 PM (#4360778)
Tex's comments dovetail nicely with LeBron's interview last week in which he said he was underpaid at $19MM/yr. And LBJ is correct.
   13. Random Transaction Generator Posted: February 02, 2013 at 04:32 PM (#4360782)
I was surprised that LeBron wasn't in the top 10 in NBA salaries (he's 13th).
Gilbert Arenas gets more than him? Elton Brand?
   14. Howie Menckel Posted: February 02, 2013 at 04:40 PM (#4360784)

"If Jordan was underpaid just imagine how badly the league underpaid the officials who protected him on the court."

might be time to let that go.
#closure
:)

   15. Dan Posted: February 02, 2013 at 05:05 PM (#4360795)
I RTFA, but I'm not exactly sure what Tex was saying. Is he claiming that 1) all athletes (other than the cost-controlled Trouts of the world) are overpaid, or 2) that superstar veterans are overpaid b/c of the timing of Free Agency vs. age decline, or 3) that he personally is overpaid b/c he personally is declining, 4) or that a 20 million dollar player isn't "valuable" b/c you can't squeeze much more value of a player than that.


He seemed to be referring to the same type of concept that sabermetric minds might term "surplus value". He's just saying that the even the best players are only going to be worth around that $20M, while the real value in the game comes from the production during the cost controlled years at the beginning of a players career. it's not really a controversial statement, but it's interesting to see a player come out and say it this plainly.
   16. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 02, 2013 at 05:19 PM (#4360798)

I was surprised that LeBron wasn't in the top 10 in NBA salaries (he's 13th).
Gilbert Arenas gets more than him? Elton Brand?


Didn't Lebron accept below market rate to play with his buddies in South Beach?
   17. Darren Posted: February 02, 2013 at 05:43 PM (#4360809)
“I have no problem with anybody in New York, any fan, saying you’re overpaid. Because I am,” Teixeira said. “We all are.”


No, see, they mean you in particular, even judged against those overpaid guys.
   18. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: February 02, 2013 at 06:26 PM (#4360819)
Crazy. Get your calculator. And divide 20 million by 162.

You won't believe what the answer is!
   19. Publius Publicola Posted: February 02, 2013 at 07:34 PM (#4360840)
FC Barcelona's revenues were $602 million last year. What is Lionel Messi worth?


Revenues or profits? If it's revenues, he might not be worth anything. If it's profits, then he's probably wortha lot.
   20. Greg K Posted: February 02, 2013 at 07:39 PM (#4360842)
FC Barcelona's revenues were $602 million last year. What is Lionel Messi worth?

I enquired after Messi in my Football Manager career as manager of the Montreal Impact. They replied that he was worth more than my transfer budget would allow, so my answer is "something more than £110,000".
   21. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: February 02, 2013 at 08:47 PM (#4360858)
In the context of wins going for 5.5m each, Teix has had between 3 and 4 wins over the last three years, so in the ridiculous world of MLB salaries he's actually been 'worth' in the neighborhood of 20m a year from 2010 through 2012.

I see fangraphs has Dickey worth 4.6 WAR in 2012. How is it possible he's worth no more than a pretty good hitter?

   22. Dan Posted: February 02, 2013 at 08:54 PM (#4360862)
I see fangraphs has Dickey worth 4.6 WAR in 2012. How is it possible he's worth no more than a pretty good hitter?


Look at what Fangraphs is calling "RA9-Wins" to get a better WAR value for pitchers - by this stat, Dickey was good for 6.5 wins in 2012.
   23. Bhaakon Posted: February 02, 2013 at 08:56 PM (#4360864)
In the context of wins going for 5.5m each, Teix has had between 3 and 4 wins over the last three years, so in the ridiculous world of MLB salaries he's actually been 'worth' in the neighborhood of 20m a year from 2010 through 2012.


Isn't that number for free agents only? If you include pre-FA players in the calculation, as Teixeira seems to be doing, then a win is worth significantly less than 5.5M in salary.
   24. SoSH U at work Posted: February 02, 2013 at 08:57 PM (#4360865)
Look at what Fangraphs is calling "RA9-Wins" to get a better WAR value for pitchers - by this stat, Dickey was good for 6.5 wins in 2012.


Well, you'd expect him to do well in that category.
   25. Hecubot Posted: February 02, 2013 at 10:12 PM (#4360901)
Well, you'd expect him to do well in that category.


Nice.
   26. Darren Posted: February 02, 2013 at 10:17 PM (#4360903)
I also do not think the rate was $5.5M in 2010-2012, more like $4M+. For the past three years, Fangraphs has Tex worth $13.1M, $19.2M, and $12.9M. Since he makes $23M per year, he's not been close to worth it, even in FA dollar bucks.
   27. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: February 03, 2013 at 12:36 AM (#4360944)
Isn't that number for free agents only?


I think it's the number you'd expect to pay on the FA market, yes, but I'm not sure how else you'd calculate his 'worth', given if he wasn't on the team, the Yankees would presumably be replacing him from the FA pool.

I also do not think the rate was $5.5M in 2010-2012, more like $4M+...
Correct. It bounced between 4.0 and 4.7M. So, I guess he wasn't particularly close to being worth his salary, even at FA replacement prices.

Teix has had a real bell curve of a career. The Yankees were gulled by his career year at age 28, and paid through the nose for it. I like his attitude, though. He seems to know where he is, and what he needs to work on. That's worth something.
   28. Jim Wisinski Posted: February 03, 2013 at 01:14 AM (#4360950)
Crazy. Get your calculator. And divide 20 million by 162.

You won't believe what the answer is!


That's pretty funny. Too bad the second number after the decimal messes it up. He needs to make $19,999,999.90 per year for it to work perfectly.
   29. filihok Posted: February 03, 2013 at 01:38 AM (#4360953)
Look at what Fangraphs is calling "RA9-Wins" to get a better WAR value for pitchers - by this stat, Dickey was good for 6.5 wins in 2012.

Dickey and his defense were worth 6.5 wins


Crazy. Get your calculator. And divide 20 million by 162.

You won't believe what the answer is!

Oh man, I thought it was gonna be 55,378.008
   30. Bad Fish Posted: February 03, 2013 at 01:35 PM (#4361115)
The mechanics of the labor contract make for weird economics in baseball. For the workers, your goal is to make it to free agency with enough in the tank to get a decent multi-year contract. The guys who end up doing very well are those who get through their arbitration years as a solid contributing everyday ballplayer. They system forces teams to overpay for that reasonable expectation of above par performance. Those guys will cash in and be very wealthy. Other guys who can end up doing pretty good are those AAAA+ type players who also get through their option and arbitration years to get some kind of contract, and carve out a nice little major league baseball career - the Nick Punto's and Johnny Gnomes of the world. The guys who almost seem to be on the crappy end of the stick are the AAAA guys who are a little too old when they are through their option years to really cash in. I guess if they are lucky they can ride the minor league contract train for a few years and make 3 or 4 million dollars, but if you never really get to cash in, you have to wonder if making $1M - $1.5M in league minimum wage is worth the lost opportunity of another direction not taken.
   31. The District Attorney Posted: February 03, 2013 at 02:30 PM (#4361159)
a nice little major league baseball career... Johnny Gnomes
racist
   32. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: February 03, 2013 at 05:30 PM (#4361284)
The mechanics of the labor contract make for weird economics in baseball. For the workers, your goal is to make it to free agency with enough in the tank to get a decent multi-year contract.


Is it, though, when even the true journeymen can hang around for ten million plus? I think the goal at the lower end is to simply stay in the majors, even if it means bouncing up and down. Even a couple of 1.5m deals as a first or second backup gets you into 5m lifetime country.
   33. Walt Davis Posted: February 03, 2013 at 07:42 PM (#4361367)
if you never really get to cash in, you have to wonder if making $1M - $1.5M in league minimum wage is worth the lost opportunity of another direction not taken.

Median US household income is about $50,000. The top quintile, most of which are 2-earner households, is $90-95,000. Many of those high-earning households would be near their peak earnings (i.e. in their 50s say). A recent study put the lifetime earnings of a high school grad at $1.2 M, $2.1 for a BA, $2.5 for a masters, $3.4 for a doctorate, $4.4 for a professional degree.

Ian Stewart, a briefly OK lately terrible MLer has already made $5.4 M (including 2013) and has one more arb year to go. James Russell, an iffy lefty reliever, is in his first arb year and has lifetime earnings of $2.4 M. I don't know what they may have received in draft signing bonuses. We haven't taken NPV into account yet (if they can invest at a rate higher than inflation) and these guys can probably latch on as coaches, high school coaches, car dealers, whatever to provide some future earnings too. Plus the strong MLBPA pension and health care.

For 99.9% of these guys who make it to just an arb contract, there is no direction not taken that offers them anything like that level of earnings. Gambling on making MLB is surely a bad bet or, at best, high risk, high reward. But if you make it to arb, you've already done better than you could have with your other options.

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