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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Brewers agree to trade for Christian Yelich | MLB.com

It appears the Brewers question Brinson’s ability to hit major league pitching. It will be interesting to see how he progresses.

The Marlins continued their rebuilding process on Thursday, trading Silver Slugger Award-winning outfielder Christian Yelich to the Brewers in exchange for three of Milwaukee’s top 14 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline, and four overall—including outfielder Lewis Brinson.

The 23-year-old Brinson, who has 21 games of big league experience, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the game’s 13th-best prospect. Middle infielder Isan Diaz (Brewers’ No. 6 prospect; No. 86 overall), outfielder Monte Harrison (Brewers’ No. 14) and right-handed pitching prospsect Jordan Yamamoto are also headed to Miami

Jim Furtado Posted: January 25, 2018 at 07:51 PM | 52 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: brewers, christian yelich, marlins, trade

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   1. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: January 25, 2018 at 08:13 PM (#5613595)
Good trade for both teams. Marlins rightfully got a lot of young talent in return.

Immediately following acquiring Yelich with the signing of Cain is a bit of a head scratcher. But that's for another thread.
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 25, 2018 at 08:19 PM (#5613601)
Immediately following acquiring Yelich with the signing of Cain is a bit of a head scratcher. But that's for another thread.

I think Santana and Broxton are trade bait for help in the rotation, or maybe middle infield.
   3. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: January 25, 2018 at 09:47 PM (#5613673)
Heh, Monte Harrison, a former Nebraska WR commit.
   4. Gerald Bostock Posted: January 25, 2018 at 10:09 PM (#5613693)
In the context of the Marlins having already traded Gordon and Stanton and Ozuna, I like this deal. But I would have preferred not to have found it necessary to trade the entire 2017 starting outfield.
   5. MHS Posted: January 25, 2018 at 10:14 PM (#5613696)
It’s embarrassment. This is not competition.
   6. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: January 25, 2018 at 11:50 PM (#5613757)
The Brewers already had a pretty good team with a barebones budget so it makes sense for them to break the collusion pact and start paying market value for players. The Twins should do it too. This is their chance to add some talent.
   7. Stevey Posted: January 26, 2018 at 03:27 AM (#5613781)
It’s embarrassment. This is not competition.


Sure, but they also just spent $115M to win 77 games. Lets say, for illustrative purposes, they break even with the attendance an 81 win team gets with a $150M payroll. What is the appropriate path for the Marlins? Be willing to lose $50M to compete, but nowhere near gurantee, a wild card spot, which could then easily crap out as a zero postseason home game season? Stay at $115M, be a longshot at the playoffs, while watching a year of value from these guys waste away? Or bottom out and attempt to build a profitable contender in a few years? There are no good options here. Its a bit of a prisoners dilemma here, the league as a whole is better off when no one tanks, but in some cases, tanking is the best approach for a specific individual.

Even if you use the fairly popular approach from the previous thread and take a dollar of revenue sharing from the Marlins for every dollar their payroll is below what they recieve, the Marlins are better off maximizing their signing pool bonus and accumulating prospects than standing pat.
   8. Greg K Posted: January 26, 2018 at 07:42 AM (#5613791)
There are no good options here.

You had the option of not buying the Marlins.
   9. Nero Wolfe, Indeed Posted: January 26, 2018 at 08:34 AM (#5613799)
Yelich has got to be happy. The Brewers may not content this year, fighting off the Cubs and the Cards, but it won't be for a lack of effort. More than can be said for that thing in south Florida calling itself a major-league baseball team that he used to play for.
   10. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 26, 2018 at 08:50 AM (#5613801)
I recall someone commented in another recent thread that the Brewers, for all their mixed record of success over the past decade or so, maintain a strong fanbase because they continually give the impression that they have a plan and are trying to win. I'd be a happy lad if I were a Brewers fan this morning, and not just because of the beer in my cornflakes.
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 26, 2018 at 08:52 AM (#5613802)
It’s embarrassment. This is not competition.

Seconded.
   12. ajnrules Posted: January 26, 2018 at 09:02 AM (#5613809)
I still say Jeter buying and running the Marlins is retaliation for 2003.
   13. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: January 26, 2018 at 09:07 AM (#5613811)
I still say Jeter buying and running the Marlins is retaliation for 2003.


This would be excellent. I still hold out hope that I'll someday be in a position to absolutely screw the people at Bank of America for a screwjob they pulled on me in 1995.
   14. Gerald Bostock Posted: January 26, 2018 at 09:26 AM (#5613822)
There are no good options here...the Marlins are better off maximizing their signing pool bonus and accumulating prospects than standing pat.

We discussed this dilemma in these parts at extensive length in December. As is to be expected on Primer, we reached no consensus. You've summed up the predicament nicely. I agree with you that the Marlins are in a particularly difficult position.

The thing is, the 2017 Marlins did a good job at trying to make lemons out of lemonade. In my opinion. They had lost their star pitcher, yet they still had a solid lineup. But their strategy to adapt to Jose Fernandez' untimely death didn't work. Where does one go from there?

If it was any other city in MLB, the strategy of trading multiple assets away to strengthen weak areas for a renewed push in a couple of years would make sense. But this is Miami, where a combination of the 1994 strike and the 1997-8 fire-sale devastated the potential fan-base

The sale of the Marlins for the highest price possible, while good for the MLB owners as a whole, was a really bad manoeuvre in Miami if it really did put pressure on payroll to the extent that nearly $40 million had to be cut. That meant they had to trade Stanton, which is absolutely the one thing that would have further destroyed the credibility of any MLB ownership in Miami.

The 'correct' strategy was probably to take 2018 off, and try and get some pitching lined up for 2019. Indeed, the 'correcter' strategy might have been to take 2017 off, hanging on to Luis Castillo and not signing Volquez and Tarzawa, while looking to line up pitching for 2018, possibly by trading away one of those outfielders to get it.

However, as the cliché goes, hindsight is always 20/20. What I think always gets ignored in this planning is the dynamics of the division. The Phillies and the Barves are almost certainly going to be better in 2019 than they were in 2017. Though the Nationals might be worse (and the Mets are the Mets, amazing one way or another), the 2019-20 seasons might have seen a highly competitive NL East, and the Stanton-led Marlins would have been two years older and even more expensive. 2017 was a good time to go all-in, as the window was closing and the competition heating up.

On the whole, I'm glad I didn't have to make the decision. One would get roasted either way by somebody, now or later. Based on how I behave in simulation leagues like Strat and Diamond Mind, I probably would have kept the gang together as much as I could. Especially given the history of the Miami market.
   15. McCoy Posted: January 26, 2018 at 09:45 AM (#5613837)
I recall someone commented in another recent thread that the Brewers, for all their mixed record of success over the past decade or so, maintain a strong fanbase because they continually give the impression that they have a plan and are trying to win. I'd be a happy lad if I were a Brewers fan this morning, and not just because of the beer in my cornflakes.

Milwaukee has always been a good baseball town. It basically took Bud Selig shvtting all over his product and letting his stadium fall apart so that he could get a new one to keep the fans away from the team.

Milwaukee's tickets have generally been cheaper and easier to get than Cubs's tickets and the close proximity and dome allows a guaranteed game that is quick and easy to get too. Simply not being Bud Selig has done wonders for the new owner and truthfully he has done a good job showing the fanbase he cares about winning and having a good product out there both on the field and the experience the fan has at the game.
   16. McCoy Posted: January 26, 2018 at 09:49 AM (#5613842)
How did the 1994 strike devastate the fan base? I would agree that the fire sale post WS hurt as well as the 2004/2005 fire sale but I don't see how 1994 did really much of anything to the fan base.
   17. stig-tossled,hornswoggled gef the talking mongoose Posted: January 26, 2018 at 09:52 AM (#5613844)
I still hold out hope that I'll someday be in a position to absolutely screw the people at Bank of America for a screwjob they pulled on me in 1995.


I patiently await being named publisher at either the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette or the Montgomery Advertiser.
   18. Spahn Insane Posted: January 26, 2018 at 10:36 AM (#5613888)
I still say Jeter buying and running the Marlins is retaliation for 2003.

Well in that case, I'm all in favor.
   19. Sunday silence Posted: January 26, 2018 at 10:44 AM (#5613903)
the league as a whole is better off when no one tanks


how did we go from this being a one off debating point to accepted fact?

Can you explain how that works? Its still a zero sum league right? Some teams win and others lose. Or is it that its better when there are several .600 teams and .400 teams instead of a couple of .650 and .350 teams. I mean how does that workout to a better league?
   20. Gerald Bostock Posted: January 26, 2018 at 10:53 AM (#5613918)
How did the 1994 strike devastate the fan base?

The 1994 strike didn't devastate the fan-base. The 1998 fire-sale didn't devastate the fan-base. The 1994 strike PLUS the 1998 fire-sale devastated the fan-base.

You can see it in the year-to-year fluctuations of attendance. I may have put the data in one of the December threads. But the Marlins got off to a fair start in 1993 (although nowhere near as good as the Rockies). Then after 1994, like all baseball teams, their attendance flagged a bit, and started to revive with the World Series run of 1997. Then it crashes in 1998, when Huizenga demands to be able to make more money.

It never really recovered, although one could argue that Loria during 2003-5 and 2015-16 showed that an organisation that at least looked like it was trying to win could generate some enthusiasm down here. He pretty much doubled attendance between 2002 and 2005, but was starting from a very low base.
   21. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: January 26, 2018 at 11:06 AM (#5613933)
Can you explain how that works? Its still a zero sum league right? Some teams win and others lose. Or is it that its better when there are several .600 teams and .400 teams instead of a couple of .650 and .350 teams. I mean how does that workout to a better league? how does that workout to a better league?
You're confusing result with intent. You don't need anybody to tank to get a mix of .650 and .350 teams, and even with tankers everyone could end up .500. Regardless of which outcome you prefer, having teams that don't intend to compete participating in a competition is not good for the competition.
   22. BDC Posted: January 26, 2018 at 11:15 AM (#5613940)
6-4-3 is correct, though, that Miami at least got something good for Yelich. Though it may be just my bias, because Brinson is practically the only prospect in baseball I've ever heard of :-D Not only heard of, but I saw him play with the Rangers in Arlington once (an exhibition game) and liked his style.

If they'd traded Stanton for what they got for Yelich, in a frank "we can't afford this guy" deal – and then kept everybody else – it would probably be bearable. But so obviously shooting for a 45-win season cannot be good for anybody (as most here agree).
   23. Khrushin it bro Posted: January 26, 2018 at 11:36 AM (#5613953)
Isn't tanking a form of competing? The teams overpaying declining free agents are willingly trading the future for the present and teams concentrating on prospects are trying to build for the future.
   24. Khrushin it bro Posted: January 26, 2018 at 11:37 AM (#5613955)
If a team just blatantly sucked the revenue stream money and didn't do either that would be bad.
   25. Gerald Bostock Posted: January 26, 2018 at 12:00 PM (#5613970)
Isn't tanking a form of competing?

I don't have a problem with tanking as a strategy to be used in extremis. Sometimes it has to be done. The Tigers after 1972 are a good example of a team that needed to move on, wholesale.

But I fear it has now become the default for teams that are at the wrong end of the success cycle. Suddenly, it's all 'we can't afford these fan favourites, so let's dump them for the best offer'.

It's the reigning fashion, and will continue to be so as long as teams like the Cubs and Astros win World Series.

But, as I implied in [14], one has to look at the context. Can you be competitive in your division? Is a Wild Card a reasonable possibility? It's absolutely ludicrous that three teams are tanking in the AL Central, while a fourth team was a 100-loss effort just two seasons ago and could turn back into a pumpkin.
   26. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 26, 2018 at 12:39 PM (#5614000)
Isn't tanking a form of competing?


Perhaps, but in large part that depends on whether other teams are forced to subsidize the tanking in the form of forced redistribution. If you're making a calculated decision that short-term pain from decreased fan interest and revenues will create long-term gain from a better team, that's a perfectly reasonable approach even if it comes with risks to your bottom line.

But if you're just slashing your payroll and counting on the free money express to deliver your profits confiscated from other teams to make sure you don't have to fly commercial or furlough your yacht captain as your fans flee in droves? Nuts to that. The lure of the bottomless welfare teat has completely changed the economic approach for much of the league, to the detriment of the game as a whole.
   27. bfan Posted: January 26, 2018 at 12:47 PM (#5614008)
somebody help me on the anger here, with Miami and Stanton. Everybody says they have to sign him to an extension (face of the franchise and all), and so they sign him to a market deal (it is what they had to pay, to get him). Now, they find out, given their attendance, TV revenue and other sources of income, that they cannot pay one guy that much money, so now they have to trade him. What is the problem? Are owners not allowed to get a return for their investment? Forget the new owner issue; that strikes me as a red herring. The Miami baseball market cannot sustain a salary such as his.
   28. BDC Posted: January 26, 2018 at 12:58 PM (#5614019)
Suddenly, it's all 'we can't afford these fan favourites, so let's dump them for the best offer'.

It's the reigning fashion, and will continue to be so as long as teams like the Cubs and Astros win World Series


But was "dump the fan favorites" really what either the Cubs or the Astros did? I don't know if the Cubs trading away Ryan Dempster really qualifies :)

The 2010 Astros did unload Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman. Both were nearing free agency, neither had very much left in the tank, and they got good value for both. I think those were smart, unsentimental trades.
   29. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 26, 2018 at 01:20 PM (#5614044)
The Miami baseball market cannot sustain a salary such as his.

BS. Every team can sustain a $125M payroll. Given that, $25M for your star is not a problem.

Now, they find out, given their attendance, TV revenue and other sources of income, that they cannot pay one guy that much money, so now they have to trade him. What is the problem? Are owners not allowed to get a return for their investment?

They just bought the freaking team. If they thought their revenue couldn't support a ccompetitive payroll, why did they bid $1.2B? You're not supposed to get a return on stupid investments.

This isn't a situation they suddenly found themselves in. They bought the team knowing everything.

It is blatantly obvious that the whole plan was to run a crap team, and rely on free money to pay down their debt. It's a scam.
   30. Gerald Bostock Posted: January 26, 2018 at 01:32 PM (#5614056)
Forget the new owner issue; that strikes me as a red herring.

No, I don't think it is a red herring at all. What this team needed was a well-capitalised owner who could pay a bit extra and push a largely young roster over the top into contention for one or two seasons.

The current incumbents are acting like asset strippers. You can't run a sports team that way and pretend that the league is an honest competition.
   31. Bote Man Posted: January 26, 2018 at 01:40 PM (#5614064)
I went to a fancy restaurant last week, well-regarded with good reviews for both food and service. Turns out it had been recently sold and the new owner couldn't afford wait staff or their renowned chef so it's now a buffet. And the food wasn't all that great. But I'm going to keep eating there in the hopes that things improve over a long time, because I'm a fan of ownership and property rights and don't really care about my experience as a customer at all.
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 26, 2018 at 01:50 PM (#5614074)
I went to a fancy restaurant last week, well-regarded with good reviews for both food and service. Turns out it had been recently sold and the new owner couldn't afford wait staff or their renowned chef so it's now a buffet. And the food wasn't all that great. But I'm going to keep eating there in the hopes that things improve over a long time, because I'm a fan of ownership and property rights and don't really care about my experience as a customer at all.

Which illustrates the problem created by baseball's shared revenue system. In most industries, a business run like the Marlins would see revenue crash, default on their debt, and go bankrupt, being eventually sold to new, hopefully better, owners.
   33. Stevey Posted: January 26, 2018 at 02:17 PM (#5614088)
You had the option of not buying the Marlins.


Sure, but even if a team of Saudi princes buys the Marlins instead, are they better spending a ton of money every year in hopes to squeak out a playoff appearance, stay near the breakeven point and rarely make the playoffs, or tear it down and hope to build a real contender in the near future?

In most industries, a business run like the Marlins would see revenue crash, default on their debt, and go bankrupt,


Because the Yankees need someone to sit in the opposite dugout every night, MLB can't operate like most industries.

   34. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 26, 2018 at 02:30 PM (#5614095)
Because the Yankees need someone to sit in the opposite dugout every night, MLB can't operate like most industries.

Bankruptcy doesn't mean the franchise disappears. Hence,
being eventually sold to new, hopefully better, owners.


If the Marlin owners can't turn a profit without MLB welfare, let them go bust. Then the creditors will seel the team to somebody else for $500M, and they won't have a debt load, and can operate as a real team.

   35. Gerald Bostock Posted: January 26, 2018 at 02:35 PM (#5614100)
Sure, but even if a team of Saudi princes buys the Marlins instead, are they better spending a ton of money every year in hopes to squeak out a playoff appearance, stay near the breakeven point and rarely make the playoffs, or tear it down and hope to build a real contender in the near future?


This particular team is not like the 2016-17 Detroit Tigers, with its core of 30+ players at various positions. plus a handful of younger complementary players.

It had a good young lineup, and dodgy pitching. An owner willing to spend to fix the latter had a good chance at some post-season appearances in the next two or three years. After that, perhaps it is time to move on.

It's not a matter of 'every year'. It's a matter of right now.
   36. Stevey Posted: January 26, 2018 at 02:45 PM (#5614113)
Bankruptcy doesn't mean the franchise disappears.



Sure, but it does throw a bit of a wrench in the maintaining operations part, and the Yankees need zero risk of the guys in the other dugout stopping operations.

And the other problem is that none of the other owners want to see their business have the real possibility of being the one that goes bankrupt. It's easy to point a finger at the Marlins as needing to reset, it's a completely different story to open yourself up to that possibility.
   37. Stevey Posted: January 26, 2018 at 02:47 PM (#5614116)
An owner willing to spend to fix the latter had a good chance at some post-season appearances in the next two or three years


77, 71, 79, 77 wins. Sure, there is always a possibility that a team plays 10 wins above its level for a season. But they are a lot of dollars away from fixing that dodgy pitching. They could have had $40M a year laying around to throw at Darvish and Arrieta, and they'd still be a team that would be just merely in the mix for a wild card spot.
   38. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 26, 2018 at 02:55 PM (#5614120)
Sure, but it does throw a bit of a wrench in the maintaining operations part, and the Yankees need zero risk of the guys in the other dugout stopping operations.

MLB guarantees player contracts. There's zero threat of a stppage of operations. In any case, corporations continue operating in bankruptcy all the time, even without such a guarantee. Once you enter Ch. 11 debtor-in-possession financing becomes readily available. Companies often declare bankruptcy because the credit markets have frozen them out, and they can't keep operationg w/o bankruptcy.

And the other problem is that none of the other owners want to see their business have the real possibility of being the one that goes bankrupt. It's easy to point a finger at the Marlins as needing to reset, it's a completely different story to open yourself up to that possibility.

I would guess there are plenty of owners who would be willing to take this miniscule risk in exchange for keeping the tens of millions of dollars in revenue sharing that goes straight into the pockets of small market owners.

The revenue sharing income stream the Marlins get (probably $30M p.a.) is worth as much as the entire rest of the franchise.
   39. Stevey Posted: January 26, 2018 at 03:29 PM (#5614143)
MLB guarantees player contracts. There's zero threat of a stppage of operations



We both understand how Chapter 11 works, but there's a bit more than player contracts that go into maintaining operations, and of course, you're expected to make significant cuts, otherwise tacking on debtor-in-possession debt just makes things worse. The process would look a whole lot like what the Marlins did, except we would get to call the Stanton trade a 363 sale.


I would guess there are plenty of owners who would be willing to take this miniscule risk in exchange for keeping the tens of millions of dollars in revenue sharing that goes straight into the pockets of small market owners.


There certainly would be some, but this position is head-banging-against-the-wall Yankee fan obstinance. Without the tens of millions of dollars of revenue sharing, it's no longer a miniscule risk, a lot of other markets get a lot closer to the Marlins situation.
   40. McCoy Posted: January 26, 2018 at 04:07 PM (#5614168)
Re 20. What's the evidence that the strike had any lasting impact on the team? If they don't have a fire sale after the world series you've got a strong following. The strike has nothing to do with how big or small their fan base is/was over the last 20 years.
   41. Gerald Bostock Posted: January 26, 2018 at 04:33 PM (#5614180)
What's the evidence that the strike had any lasting impact on the team?

The fact that their attendance never recovered to pre-strike levels?

They were at 67 per cent of capacity during 1994. They might have reached that level the season Marlins Park opened, but otherwise they have always fallen short.

I dunno, but I'd be surprised if that could be said of any other franchise apart from the Expos.
   42. Walt Davis Posted: January 26, 2018 at 04:40 PM (#5614184)
The 2010 Astros did unload Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman. Both were nearing free agency, neither had very much left in the tank, and they got good value for both. I think those were smart, unsentimental trades.

Trades made by Luhnow's predecessor by the way.

They got solid return for Oswalt (1.5 years I think) but it made almost no impact on the team. Anthony Gose never played for the Astros and was traded for Brett Wallace (essentially a 3-way trade) who gave them 1100 PA below replacement. Villar was a solid bench IF for 3 years, giving them 1.5 WAR (-0.8 WAA), then traded to Milw for a guy who hasn't made the majors. JA Happ spent 3 seasons in Houston but those are the seasons that convinced us all that Happ was useless with 330 innings below replacement. In what looks to be a joint salary dump trade, he was shipped to the Jays in a "massive" trade that did land the Astros Joe Musgrove who was just part of the Gerrit Cole trade.

So even if you follow that trade all the way through, 7 full seasons later, the Astros have received about 1-2 WAR out of that trade, about half of the WAR Oswalt gave the Phils in the second half of 2010. It's certainly true that the 5 WAR that Oswalt had left in his body weren't going to make any real difference to the 2010-11 Astros but neither did the 1-2 WAR over 7 seasons they got in return (and return of return). Maybe the trade is finally paying off with Musgrove's "share" of the next 2 years of Cole -- a trade kinda similar to the Oswalt trade. (One can also argue they should have had more faith in Happ who did eventually become a pretty good pitcher.)

For two months of Berkman, they did get Mark Melancon (and Jimmy Paredes who gave them -2 WAR before being released). Melancon had a good year as a set-up man for them (1 WAR) before being traded to Boston (where he flopped in a small sample then traded to Pitt where he became stud closer). They got a solid 2.2 WAR season out of Lowrie the swapped him for Chris Carter and Brad Peacock which was probably the best trade of all of these. Lowrie gave the A's 3 WAR (then FA and back to Houston) while Carter gave the Astros 2 WAR (then FA) and Peacock has given them 3.5 (nearly all last year) and still has 3 years of control left (kinda amazing). And they still have Max Stassi around.

Y'know, the more I look at trades, the more it almost seems like teams should stop asking for throw-ins or even second pieces. The damage put up by Jimmy Paredes, Kyle Welland and Brett Wallace is nearly enough to undo all the positives of Villar, Melancon and Lowrie. I know, the PT that went to these guys would have gone to other equally uninspiring Astros minor-leaguers and whether you got -2 WAR or 0 WAR or +2 WAR out of them is just a roll of the dice. And all it takes is to get lucky on one throw-in to erase any damage done by another 20 so I'm not being serious.
   43. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: January 26, 2018 at 04:45 PM (#5614188)
77, 71, 79, 77 wins. Sure, there is always a possibility that a team plays 10 wins above its level for a season. But they are a lot of dollars away from fixing that dodgy pitching. They could have had $40M a year laying around to throw at Darvish and Arrieta, and they'd still be a team that would be just merely in the mix for a wild card spot.


They don't have to play 10 wins above their heads (though that can certainly work, it's not that unusual). They have to get 10 wins better.

Their absolutely awful pitching, actually makes it easier to turn it around. They had 5 pitchers with less than -1.0 WAR. In total their negative piching WAR pitchers total -10 WAR. That is 10 wins you can improve right there with essentially free talent (that's what replacement level means after all). Ok, every team is going to have a few guys who end up below replacement. But if you add 1-2 actually good pitchers onto it, you are definitely all the way there.

77 wins, second in their division, is not a 'no hope, no choice but to tear it down' situation. Just last year, the DBacks, the Rockies, the Twins, and the Astros improved by more than 10 games to make the playoffs. The Yankees by 7. The Brewers by more than 10 games and ended one game out.

edit: fixed an error
   44. McCoy Posted: January 26, 2018 at 04:46 PM (#5614189)
That their attendance has not been as high as the first year of existence is not proof that the strike permanently hurt the Marlins. I mean are we going to blame the strike for the rays not getting back to first year attendance?

The strike, like a government shutdown, was a temporary setback for baseball.
   45. Gerald Bostock Posted: January 26, 2018 at 05:07 PM (#5614199)
That their attendance has not been as high as the first year of existence is not proof that the strike permanently hurt the Marlins....

The strike, like a government shutdown, was a temporary setback for baseball.


The strike interrupted their second year.

Attendance was down across all baseball after the strike. It is well-attested that all fan-bases were hurt by the strike. They slowly recovered, presumably at different rates in different cities.

So the 1997 Wild-Card-to-World-Series attendance was down on the 1994 attendance. And then came the fire-sale.

I think it's fair to conclude that the fire-sale aggravated a troubled situation. It might have been a trouble shared by all fan-bases, but it's still a trouble.
   46. BDC Posted: January 26, 2018 at 05:22 PM (#5614208)
Thanks for the analysis in #42, Walt, I agree with it. I reckon what I mostly meant was that Houston got quite plausible players for both Oswalt and Berkman (as you note), and though Oswalt was excellent for the rest of '10 and Berkman still very good in '11, they traded them at the right time for good players (at least, as you observe, the better players in the deals were pretty good).

IOW neither trade was some sort of betrayal of their fanbase, unless maybe somebody in Houston was nine years old at the time and thought that Oswalt and Berkman would never leave town.

Though now that I put it that way, jeez, what is sadder than a nine-year-old realizing that his sports heroes won't always be young and magical. Now I just want to cry.
   47. Walt Davis Posted: January 26, 2018 at 06:11 PM (#5614222)
I've been thinking a bit ... and this is still not any sort of final draft ... about what we mean by tanking and how to distinguish it from other stuff.

1. Sensible/obvious trades of vets -- you have a productive vet, you have .5 to 2 years of (fairly expensive) control left. Due to a combination of your team's current talent, the player's projected value in the time left and your likelihood/desire to extend him, you decide to trade him. Sometimes this may be a case where you will only trade him for what you consider very good return; sometimes it will be to just make the best deal you can.

Trades of Dempster, Garza, Oswalt, Berkman fall into this category. The trade of Samardzija/Hammel probably falls into that "very good return" category -- Russell was way too much talent to pass up. The recent trade of McCutchen can be placed here as well but maybe trades of franchise icons need their own category.

Anyway, these trades are generally "obvious." You're a 73-win team with them, 70-win without them, they cost money, they're only around for another year or two, you're never going to re-sign them (or you can re-sign them anyway if they become FA), at most you're missing out on a QO-related pick so make sure you get at least that much back.

These trades are not evidence of tanking.

2. Straight salary dumps -- There's no attempt to get value in return, you just want out from under these contracts. Sometimes you might even send talent along to get out from under them. We have at least two classic examples ...

The Nick Punto trade in which Boston dumped about $7 billion on the Dodgers in exchange for Punto. Boston did have to include the very good AGon (who, despite some late-career issues, did his part). The second is the Stanton trade.

Some key differences mean the first was not tanking but the second likely was. The Red Sox traded away players in decline and they re-invested the payroll savings in relatively short order. Remember, AGon's contract runs through 2018, Crawford just came off the books this year.. Without that trade, the Red Sox probably miss out on at least one, probably two of Price, Porcello's extension, Hanley, Sandoval, Castillo ... OK, maybe they'd have been better off if they'd never made the Punto trade. :-) The eternally amazing Vernon Wells trade falls into this category as well.

In Stanton, you're trading away a player who probably is worth 10/$290 or close to it. (If he hits his ZiPS projections, he's worth more than that; I guesstimated him around $250-270.) He's in his prime, a big star, an excellent shot at the HoF. It's virtually impossible to get good baseball return and it became truly impossible once he invoked his NTC. So the Red Sox gave up relatively little baseball value (because of the age of the players) while getting a huge financial return; the Marlins gave up a lot of baseball value while getting a huge financial return.

The proof is still in the pudding technically but I don't think any of us ever expected them to invest those savings and their subsequent behavior makes it even clearer they will not.

3. The nonsensical salary dump. There's no other way to characterize the Ozuna trade. The Yelich trade maybe isn't quite nonsensical (they got a decent prospect back) but it's still trading 4 pretty cheap years of Yelich for 6 years of pretty cheap control over a guy who is unlikely to turn out as good as Yelich. Apparently now there are Realmuto rumors too, another very good, very cheap young player with years of control left. These guys don't cost a lot of money, they are very good players ... this is clearly a case where they are knowingly making the team much worse in the short run, not even getting major financial return out of it and, generally, not getting good baseball return either (meaning they probably aren't helping the long run all that much).

This is some mix of incompetence and tanking. Granted, we can't rule out 100% incompetence yet.

Historical case: Aramis Ramirez (and Lofton) to the Cubs for three players the Pirates apparently didn't even really want ... all to save about $12 M.

Counter-example: Beane has been doing these sorts of trades since at least Nick Swisher. That there's a difference, it's that he's targeted more ML-ready prospects with the apparent goal of getting about the same total WAR just spread out over 2-3 players while also saving money. That's not a great strategy IMO but he has usually made it work out reasonably well -- then, like the Red Sox, wasted his (meager) savings on Billy Butler types. Anyway, Beane has his faults but I don't think anybody questions his intention to put good teams on the field and these trades were not (generally) done with an eye towards acquiring talent that might be useful 3-4 years from now but talent that would be (surprisingly) useful right now.

4. What kind of talent do you bring in? For #2 and #3, one can often make a reasonable case that it's just a bad trade, not tanking ... or at least that we can't say with near certainty that it's tanking. This is where Theo made his intentions clearest. He traded away what little talent he had to offer plus a couple of decent players had left through FA. Not trying to re-sign ARam was a perfectly defensible decision. But he replaced those wins (leaving a lousy team) with ... Joe Mather, Shawn Camp, SPs coming off injury, a flailing Ian Stewart, an aging Reed Johnson, an aging David DeJesus. I looked at this in detail once and the guys he brought in projected to barely above-replacement -- I recall DeJesus was the best at 1.5 WAR. Joe Mather isn't even trying.

By spring's end, I "projected" that team to 95 losses, said 100 was a real possibility. Granted, I was the most pessimistic of all, even more than McCoy, but they did lose 101. And that was despite an outstanding 4 months from Dempster, a good first starting season from Samardzija, 4 good months out of Maholm and a good half-season out of Garza. Those guys combined for 4.2 WAA ... except for Maholm, those guys were on the roster before Theo got there. The rest of the staff, the bits Theo was responsible for building, put up -13 WAA in 910 IP. The position players were only regularly embarrassing at -6 WAA (Astros -14 WAA!) although without Castro and Barney's fantastical Rfield, it would have been even worse.

That offseason he made one move geared towards seriously improving the Cubs' short-term future, trading the young, cost-controlled Cashner for Rizzo. In a move that both made the 2012 team worse and saved the Cubs a few million, he kept Rizzo at AAA for a half-season until his clock reset.

Theo Epstein is a very good GM. He knew he was adding even worse dreck to an already lousy team. He knew Rizzo was better than LeHair (forever an All-Star), he knew he would try to trade anybody having a decent season at the deadline. But as good as he is, he still couldn't intentionally suck as bad as Luhnow could intentionally suck but he had the good fortune to make the much better draft decision.

Another classic case of tanking was the 2003 Tigers. I don't know if we've seen a front office putting in less effort to win since Mack's heyday. They couldn't even be bothered to sign short-term declining vets or stock some AAAA all-stars, it was a lot of kids promoted from AA. But it seems they weren't expecting a disaster of those proportions and they immediately changed course and added some talent. But with the #1 pick in the 2004 draft, they did get Verlander so job well done!

The Marlins ... well, they're guilty of #2, #3 (repeat offenders) and I think we can assume #4. Here's hoping they get Luke Hochevar or Greg Reynolds with their draft pick next year.

We can contrast them to last year's White Sox. They traded away a ton of talent too, they didn't put much effort into replacing any of it. The key difference is that they got a lot of serious prospects in return. Contrast the returns for any two of Eaton, Quintana or Sale with those for Ozuna and Yelich. (Stanton's NTC made getting return for him difficult but even the reported return from SF was pretty lame, StL might have been better.) Young, cost-controlled stars are supposed to bring big return but the Marlins haven't gotten that.

So the Sox look like a team actually rebuilding. Their trades are of the Samardzija-Russell variety -- the talent coming back is just too good to pass up. Arguably they could have made another couple of runs at it with the talent they had so it's still not clear they made the right decision but at least it's debatable. The Marlins have gutted the 2018 roster without making huge improvements to the 2020-21 roster. They might be good (or at least average) by 2020-21, but I'll bet almost none of the players they've acquired in these trades are playing a major role. (Sierra may still be running fast around CF and one of the pitchers will probably be decent ... put the over/under for players from these trades at 4 WAR for the Marlins in 2020-21.
   48. McCoy Posted: January 26, 2018 at 08:02 PM (#5614240)
The fire same created a situation, it didn't aggravate one. People weren't holding a grudge on baseball all the way through the 1997 season. People weren't saying, "well, sure they won the world series but there was that strike three years ago so I just can't get into this team"
   49. Walt Davis Posted: January 26, 2018 at 11:19 PM (#5614292)
On the Marlins, fire sale, etc. ... as I've noted a few times, they've never put an actual GOOD team on the field much less on a consistent basis. The 1997 team's 92 wins is still the record, the 2003 team won 91 and those are the only teams over 90. In 25 seasons they have never won the division and have had just 6 seasons over 500. Following their 97 WS win was the best chance they had to establish a fan base and of course the fire sale did pretty much kill that.

Attendance rank from 1993 on: 5th, 5th, 8th, 10th, 5th (WS year), 13th (of 16), 15th, 15th, 15th ... The fire sale did kinda break their back. Now I'll grant that being just 5th in an inaugural year is not overly promising but at least their early history suggested they could attain that when they didn't suck. Their second best chance was probably when the new stadium opened -- 2.2 M, nothing to brag about but about 50% higher than usual. So they put a 69-win team followed by a 62-win team out there. Admittedly they tried with Buehrle and Reyes but as soon as it wasn't working, they blew that team up too.

In 1993, the Rox were #1 by a good margin. In their first year, the DBacks were 2nd (to the Rox). Meanwhile the Rays were just 7th ... and the best they've been able to do since then is about 60% of that first year. Whether it's crappy marketing or crappy market, maybe debut attendance that's unremarkable is a harbinger of bad things to come.

what is sadder than a nine-year-old realizing that his sports heroes won't always be young and magical.

If this doesn't bring a tear to every eye ... (and sometimes it's her sports hero :-)
   50. SoSH U at work Posted: January 26, 2018 at 11:32 PM (#5614294)
The Nick Punto trade in which Boston dumped about $7 billion on the Dodgers in exchange for Punto. Boston did have to include the very good AGon (who, despite some late-career issues, did his part). The second is the Stanton trade.


For the record, the Sox didn't acquire Punto in the Punto trade. He was just the largest piece of the deal (going to LA with Beckett, Gonzalez and Crawford).
   51. Gerald Bostock Posted: January 26, 2018 at 11:36 PM (#5614298)
People weren't holding a grudge on baseball all the way through the 1997 season.

MLB average per game 1994 - 31,240

MLB average per game 1997 - 27,906 (89 per cent of 1994)

Marlins average per game 1994 - 32,922

Marlins average per game 1997 - 29,044 (88 per cent of 1994)
   52. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 27, 2018 at 10:19 AM (#5614340)
Because the Yankees need someone to sit in the opposite dugout every night, MLB can't operate like most industries.


Every team needs an opponent. Why are the Yankees singled out?

Because the whole economic upheaval of the last 20 years was sold, with a wink and a grin, as a way to screw the Yankees. Losers want winners to lose.

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