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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Jonah Keri: The Myth of the Small-Market Window

We’re not selling blinds here.

There is a nugget of truth behind this Window obsession. Smaller-revenue teams have a tougher time signing premium free agents, or retaining their own top players past their initial six years of team control. That puts extra pressure on these poorer teams to bring up a bunch of great prospects all at once, then hope they get good at the same time before they get expensive.

But far more often it’s a bullshit excuse. It’s a vague, faraway goal that always seems several years out of reach. It’s a cover for cheap, greedy ownership, lousy scouting, drafting, and player development, and myopic trades. It’s a weak attempt to placate a fan base screwed over by years of management incompetence and indifference.

Or in the case of the Oakland A’s, their recent fire sale and justification for said fire sale, it’s a bold-faced ploy by one opportunistic owner to win territory from another opportunistic owner so that another city can hand out another $500 million check for another boondoggle stadium.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 04, 2012 at 04:28 PM | 35 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: athletics, rays

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   1. Nasty Nate Posted: January 04, 2012 at 05:35 PM (#4028971)
But far more often it’s a ######## excuse


wow, more censoring of expletives here than Disney/ABC/ESPN....
   2. Don Malcolm Posted: January 04, 2012 at 05:45 PM (#4028982)
Or in the case of the Oakland A’s, their recent fire sale and justification for said fire sale, it’s a bold-faced ploy by one opportunistic owner to win territory from another opportunistic owner so that another city can hand out another $500 million check for another boondoggle stadium.

#### straight. ####, nothing like that kind of #### could ever happen in Tampa....
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 04, 2012 at 05:49 PM (#4028985)
####. Balls.
   4. The District Attorney Posted: January 04, 2012 at 05:53 PM (#4028993)
Shorter Keri: "Lew Wolff is a dоngwrangler"
   5. Danny Posted: January 04, 2012 at 05:55 PM (#4028997)
Or in the case of the Oakland A’s, their recent fire sale and justification for said fire sale, it’s a bold-faced ploy by one opportunistic owner to win territory from another opportunistic owner so that another city can hand out another $500 million check for another boondoggle stadium.

The fire sale is a "ploy" to "win" a move to San Jose that was reportedly okayed before the fire sale took place? The evidence for this is that Beane says they need a new stadium, which is something he's been saying for nearly a decade?

And where does this $500M come from? The current plan is to give the A's a ~$20M discount on a land purchase and let them privately fund the construction of the stadium.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: January 04, 2012 at 06:37 PM (#4029021)
I don't get the "ploy to move" thing either.

Hi, we're the Oakland A's -- we stink but we'll be coming to your town soon! Get your tickets now! Go to SanJoseAs.com and get yours today! While you're there, you can vote on who our staring left fielder should be because ... we don't know! Vote and you'll go into a draw to have lunch with Trevor Cahill, err, Gio Gonzalez, err, All-Star Andrew Bailey, err, Japanese superstar and porn enthusiast Hideki Matsui, err, Daric Barton, err, wait he's not even good enough to start for us anymore, ummm ... Coco Crisp, is that a great name or what!

Who's the mark of this con supposed to be? Selig knows what the A's are worth and what their revenue is. The Giants know. San Jose knows. Anybody who doesn't know can do a web search on Forbes' annual baseball article and get a good guess. What purpose does losing 110 games and drawing under 1 million fans serve? Seems the baseball equivalent of "I'm gonna hold my breath until my face turns blue."

Stinking and crying poor is a common approach to trying to con the _local_ community into giving you money but I don't see how stinking and crying poor in Oakland gains the support of the fine citizens of San Jose. "In San Jose, we might stink or we might cry poor but we PROMISE not to do both."*

*Offer not valid in the State of California.

   7. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: January 04, 2012 at 06:51 PM (#4029025)
Love it, Walt.

The blame for a noncompetitive team rests on Wolff and Beane in equal part, I think. Wolff won't spend on FA's, but Beane can't get it right on hitting prospects.

The stadium BS is just so much ####### hogwash.
   8. Nasty Nate Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:08 PM (#4029031)
Stinking and crying poor is a common approach to trying to con the _local_ community into giving you money but I don't see how stinking and crying poor in Oakland gains the support of the fine citizens of San Jose.


Uh, they're not moving across the country; the fanbase will pretty much be the same, right? So I think they can still try to use the justification of "our team can't win unless someone builds us a stadium." (I'm not saying that they are involved in such a ploy, just that switching towns within the same region doesn't go against it).

-

I know there is a whole backstory to it, but I find it funny that there is a question of compensation to the Giants for a case where the A's are trying to move further away from San Francisco.
   9. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:29 PM (#4029044)
I know there is a whole backstory to it, but I find it funny that there is a question of compensation to the Giants for a case where the A's are trying to move further away from San Francisco.


Backstory as I understand it: San Jose is San Francisco's guarenteed territory. I think it includes Silicon Vally, so it's one of the most upscale regions of the US. The Giants no likey this move, but are being persuaded/forced.
   10. Nasty Nate Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:44 PM (#4029057)
Backstory as I understand it: San Jose is San Francisco's guarenteed territory. I think it includes Silicon Vally, so it's one of the most upscale regions of the US. The Giants no likey this move, but are being persuaded/forced.


I guess I could just search for and read all the details, but I would have thought that teams sharing a metropolitan area would have overlapping territorial rights.
   11. Bhaakon Posted: January 04, 2012 at 07:52 PM (#4029066)
Who's the mark of this con supposed to be? Selig knows what the A's are worth and what their revenue is.


It's not a con, it's a threat. You think Selig and the other owners like seeing a team run into the ground? Not only will the have to pay out more revenue sharing, they'll be reticent to force the sale of a team that will set a low point for the market value of baseball franchises.
   12. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 04, 2012 at 08:10 PM (#4029079)
The Giants' owners are holding up the deal, claiming territorial rights in San Jose. The Giants won those rights two decades ago, when then-A's owner Walter Haas Jr. ostensibly did them a favor.


"Ostensibly"? No one has ever denied the As gave the Giants exclusive rights in order to help them get a new stadium, without asking or receiving any compensations. And Ms. Keri has the link supporting this.

As Wally Haas tells the story, the A's were approached by Giants exec Corey Busch requesting exclusive rights to the area before the Giants' proposed ballparks in Santa Clara and San Jose.

The A's said OK, and the transfer became official when baseball owners granted approval.

That was it.

"We shared the territorial rights up to that point, the Giants and the A's," Haas said on the set of "Chronicle Live" on Thursday. "They asked if we would cede those rights to them so they could go through the referendum, and we felt that was fine."

Voters rejected both proposals, but the territorial rights remained. Now they're a major reason the A's aren't fast-breaking to San Jose, because Commissioner Bud Selig - until further notice - stands by current Giants ownership, which had nothing to do with the Haas family surrendering the rights to then-Giants owner Bob Lurie.

Led by managing general partner/courtroom buff Bill Neukom, the Giants say they'll fight to keep their rights because of their corporate sponsors and fans in the South Bay, also claiming the franchise would lose value without the rights, that the team was purchased from Lurie in 1992 with the rights as part of the deal.


Even the Giant's don't argue the As gave them those rights as a huge favor. Shyster Neukom, who apparently lost touch with any of his remaining human emotions sometime during those days helping build the Microsoft Monopoly, simply whines that they paid for the team expecting to keep those rights.

Hmm, what motivated Ms. Keri to write this horribly biased and innacruate screed? Oh, wait.

Jonah Keri's new book, The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First,


I forgot her new book is supposed to convince you that its the guys in Tampa Bay are the real smart guys in baseball, never mind that they inherited metric tons of farm system talent due to Tampa Bay's decade plus of suckitude allowing them to draft well ahead of Oakland almost every single year of their existence, getting first shot at better talent in every draft round.
   13. Willie Mayspedester Posted: January 04, 2012 at 08:41 PM (#4029111)
Jonah Keri is a lady?
   14. Danny Posted: January 04, 2012 at 08:50 PM (#4029120)
It's not a con, it's a threat. You think Selig and the other owners like seeing a team run into the ground? Not only will the have to pay out more revenue sharing, they'll be reticent to force the sale of a team that will set a low point for the market value of baseball franchises.

So they're threatening to do something they've already done in order to get something they've (reportedly) already received?

This is assbackwards. The A's have been trying to compete the past few years while they've been lobbying to move to San Jose. Now that they've (reportedly) been granted authority to go ahead with the move, they're holding a fire sale.
   15. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 04, 2012 at 09:01 PM (#4029125)
It's not a con, it's a threat. You think Selig and the other owners like seeing a team run into the ground? Not only will the have to pay out more revenue sharing, they'll be reticent to force the sale of a team that will set a low point for the market value of baseball franchises.


And the rights have minimal value to the Giants. Certainly there is some value to keeping the As out of San Jose, their move will cost the Giants some fans and some ticket sales, but it's likely to be only a tiny fraction of their total fan base/ticket sales. Any hard core Giants fan in silicon valley is still going to be driving up to SF for games, and won't care a whit about the San Jose As. And north of Santa Clara the Giants will be still closer to many. Finally any losses it will be partially offset by fans the Giants win back in the Oakland/Sacramento "corridor".

But the move will be huge for the As, will increase their revenues and franchise value substantially, as well as reducing revenue sharing costs for the rest of the league. This move has to happen because the league has to be operated in a manner that maximizes the best possible outcomes for all teams. Even if every dollar the As gained was directly lost by the Giants, if it meant less revenue sharing because they were now two mid market teams, it should be done for the good and stability of the league.

Finally what Keri is intentionally ignoring/denying/hiding, is that increasing the As revenues to the point where they can field a $90M annual payroll, while helpful, isn't a guarantee of success. With a couple bad years, they can acquire tens of millions in extra farm system talent simply by improving their draft position.

From 1999 to 2008 the Arizona Diamondbacks won at least 82 games 7 times. After losing 111 games in 2004, they drafted Justin Upton first over-all. The next year they drafted 11th, and got Max Scherzer. The following year they drafted Jarrod Parker in 9th. Thats a ton of value they got from their draft position the 3 times they finished with losing records.

From 2000-2011 here is Oakland's first pick's draft position. 60th, 25th, 16th, 25th, 24th, 21st, 66th, 26th, 12th, 13th, 10th, 18th.

Here is Tampa Bays. 6th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, 4th, 8th, 3rd, 1st, 1st, 30th, 17th, 24th.

Call it the "winners curse". It's okay for the Sox or the Yankees, who have a ton of revenues to use to compensate for perpetually drafting in poor positions. Oakland's success never created a substantial or long lived revenue increase, so they compensated by picking up sandwich picks by letting their free agents walk. But even then they were giving back some picks when they occasionally signed another teams FA (Mike Magnante?, Esteban Loaiza?).

I wonder if this doesn't also signal a shift in Beanes thinking, given that it appears it will be more difficult to get compensatory picks in the future.

And Tampa appears to be headed down the same road as Oakland trod the last decade. They still have a ton of young talent, but no new stadium, and no substantial new revenues, and their draft positions are getting more and more difficult. So as smart as they are, adding draft position to payroll, they went from one big disadvantage to two three years ago. Le's see how they compete with that double burden their next 7 years and then compare it to what Beane did his last 10 years.


   16. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 04, 2012 at 09:01 PM (#4029129)
Jonah Keri is a lady?


Keri's definitely a b*tch.
   17. Nasty Nate Posted: January 04, 2012 at 09:25 PM (#4029151)
"We shared the territorial rights up to that point, the Giants and the A's," Haas said on the set of "Chronicle Live" on Thursday. "They asked if we would cede those rights to them so they could go through the referendum, and we felt that was fine."


What difference does it make when building a stadium between shared rights versus sole rights to a territory?
   18. Bhaakon Posted: January 04, 2012 at 09:51 PM (#4029168)
So they're threatening to do something they've already done in order to get something they've (reportedly) already received?

This is assbackwards. The A's have been trying to compete the past few years while they've been lobbying to move to San Jose. Now that they've (reportedly) been granted authority to go ahead with the move, they're holding a fire sale.


A rumor floating around is a long way from coming to an agreement with the Giants. Even if Selig's panel sides with Wolff, Bud doesn't appear to have the ability to unilaterally re-assign territorial rights without a vote of the owners, and there's no rumor saying that the A's have gathered enough votes to do that. The uglier the A's make this, the more likely it will succeed and the stronger their bargaining position will be when/if they have to negotiate a settlement with the Giants.
   19. Moeball Posted: January 04, 2012 at 10:39 PM (#4029219)
In San Jose, we might stink or we might cry poor but we PROMISE not to do both.


In San Diego, being stinking poor has been the mantra for decades...
   20. Squash Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:37 PM (#4029264)
Keri's definitely a b*tch.

I think Keri's mostly all right. Every movement reaches a point where the membership feels the urge to liquidate its early gurus in order to make the movement their own, or evolve, or whatever. Some people have it worse than others. The Rays, fresh and new, untouched by the taint of Moneyball and our memories of the early 2000s, are good. The A's, who remind us too much of the early days of the saber movement and ourselves in it, who are old and tired, and have been the subject of pretty much every conversation about Moneyball over the last 10 years and whether it's right or wrong or just flat out evil, are bad. And of course, as mentioned above, we'll see where the Rays are in a few years if they can't make any more money despite their success and Longoria/Chavez, the one guy who they do keep, is devastatingly injured and pretty much loses everything overnight.

This:

But far more often it’s a ######## excuse. It’s a vague, faraway goal that always seems several years out of reach. It’s a cover for cheap, greedy ownership, lousy scouting, drafting, and player development, and myopic trades. It’s a weak attempt to placate a fan base screwed over by years of management incompetence and indifference.

- is even partially true, but it doesn't remove the fact that are indeed windows for small-market teams, however nefarious their owners may be. It also doesn't remove the fact that the windows don't open and close in clean 4- or 5- or 10-year cycles, even if it would be so much simpler that way, or that today's geniuses are tomorrow's morons. Personally I think the last few years have proven just how good of a GM Beane is. It's a frigging miracle they won 81 games in 2010. They had nothing. How the hell did they do that? That's some serious Moneyball finding-value-in-the odd-corners front office talent. The rosters have appeared to be uniformly terrible, yet somehow they're always drafting in the teens because somehow they always win 75-80 games. That's fricking amazing if you ask me because I've been watching them, and they suck.
   21. Walt Davis Posted: January 04, 2012 at 11:53 PM (#4029278)
From 2000-2011 here is Oakland's first pick's draft position. 60th, 25th, 16th, 25th, 24th, 21st, 66th, 26th, 12th, 13th, 10th, 18th.

and here is the value produced to date (not all for the A's, too lazy for that!):

-1.2, 5 (retired?), 19.2, -, 0, 5.3, 9.3, -, 1.6, - -

Total: 39.4, half Swisher. Blanton, Street and Suzuki get missed by limiting to 1st pick.

Here is Tampa Bays. 6th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, 4th, 8th, 3rd, 1st, 1st, 30th, 17th, 24th.

And here is the value received to date:

6.4 (retired), -4, 16.7 (FA to be), 0 (well, traded for Garza & Bartlett), 4.3, -, 24.1 (jackpot!), 10.4, -, -, -, -

Total: 47.5, half Longoria. A bunch of 4th round or later guys (esp. Hellickson) have paid off nicely for Tampa.

Oakland was drafting mainly college guys in those days, so their value was received earlier and is pretty much gone now. Tampa drafted younger guys and so most of their value is being received now and they have brighter futures. But Cahill (#66) has produced nearly as much as David Price in the same ML time. So the difference is Oakland traded it away while Tampa is holding onto it (and it could be both decisions are right or both decisions are wrong).

Given where they've drafted, the A's have done incredibly well so that hasn't really been the problem. Sure, they presumably would have done even better with higher draft picks but, to contend over these last 4-5 years, they would have needed to add 10-15 wins every year and they weren't going to draft that much better.

Some things they haven't done: (a) pull off a "how the hell did we pull that off" trade like getting Garza and Bartlett for nothing or 4 prospects who all turn out good for Teixeira; (b) a big jackpot draft/LA player like Longoria; (c) a jackpot nothing trade like Zobrist; (d) a miracle late-round draft pick like (probably) Hellickson.

Anyway, what currently ails Oakland can't be blamed on their draft position. The mitakes or bad luck are elsewhere.

   22. Nasty Nate Posted: January 05, 2012 at 12:05 AM (#4029286)
Personally I think the last few years have proven just how good of a GM Beane is. It's a frigging miracle they won 81 games in 2010. They had nothing. How the hell did they do that? That's some serious Moneyball finding-value-in-the odd-corners front office talent.


Wait, what? Isn't it Beane's fault that they "had nothing" in 2010 in the first place?
   23. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 05, 2012 at 12:12 AM (#4029290)
Given where they've drafted, the A's have done incredibly well so that hasn't really been the problem. Sure, they presumably would have done even better with higher draft picks but, to contend over these last 4-5 years, they would have needed to add 10-15 wins every year and they weren't going to draft that much better.


Again, you are focused on the first round. The draft still value for many rounds, and draft position helps you in each of those rounds, though not as much as it does in the first.

And you are focused on results. The fact the As did almost as well with their picks as Tampa did with theirs doesn't change the fact that Tampa had huge advantage. And without Friedman making many of those picks either.

Some things they haven't done: (a) pull off a "how the hell did we pull that off" trade like getting Garza and Bartlett for nothing or 4 prospects who all turn out good for Teixeira; (b) a big jackpot draft/LA player like Longoria; (c) a jackpot nothing trade like Zobrist; (d) a miracle late-round draft pick like (probably) Hellickson.

Anyway, what currently ails Oakland can't be blamed on their draft position. The mistakes or bad luck are elsewhere.


I'm not solely blaming draft position. I'm saying it's been a big disadvantage, and so has payroll. Between those two structural disadvantages, it's been amazing how well Oakland has done. And certainly they appear to be more unluckily than lucky , between Anderson, Cargo, Harden, Crosby, Chavez, etc, etc, etc it seems like they've had some big time talent that either didn't develop, didn't develop while in Oakland, or got hurt repeatedly.

But in the end I think you have to applaud Beane for making a stand to try to address two large long term impediments to fielding good teams.
   24. Squash Posted: January 05, 2012 at 02:22 AM (#4029331)
Personally I think the last few years have proven just how good of a GM Beane is. It's a frigging miracle they won 81 games in 2010. They had nothing. How the hell did they do that? That's some serious Moneyball finding-value-in-the odd-corners front office talent.


Wait, what? Isn't it Beane's fault that they "had nothing" in 2010 in the first place?


What I'm saying is a team parceled out of what looked to be nothing with no money and no stars was in fact good enough to win 81 games (and had a pythag of 85-77). To me that says Beane's still pretty good at finding players who don't appear to be valuable but actually are. Which theoretically is what he was supposed to be so good at.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: January 05, 2012 at 04:14 AM (#4029350)
Again, you are focused on the first round.

Dude, you're the one who listed only each team's top picks in that year. That's not my fault.

And, no, the draft doesn't really have value in later rounds. It's pretty much a crap shoot after round 2 or 3. No team is wasting their 1st 3 rounds to cleverly pick the one guy in the 4th round who pays off.

But what the heck:

Total value of TB 2000-2011, by round:
2nd: -.6 WAR
3rd: 0
4th: 5.6*
5th: -1
6th: -.4
7th: .6
8th: .4
9th: -1.9
10th: 7.1**
11th: -.7
12th: 2.4***
13th: -1.5
14th: 0
15th: 0****

* not counting Dave Bush who didn't sign
** 5 of this is value Jason Hammell has produced for Colorado. TB got Aneury Rodriguez in that trade but lost him in Rule 5. Hammell produced negative WAR for TB
*** Jaso who they just traded
**** Pelfrey didn't sign

So the later round drafts of the Rays had next to nothing to do with their success over the last 4 years. These later rounds presumably will have reasonable impact on their success going forward as they brought in Hellickson, Cobb, Jennings, McGee and Moore. Those first three did contribute a lot this year but this is the first year TB has gotten value out of its later round picks.

In those same rounds, the A's drafted 39 WAR worth of players NOT including Cahill. Looks like about 20 of that value mostly went elsewhere though or didn't sign (Ethier for Bradley, Mike Leake unsigned, John Baker for Jason Stokes, Daniel Schlereth unsigned). Suzuki and Bailey were the guys who have delivered most of the value to the A's.

So I'll say it again -- the draft has had very little to do with why the Rays have kicked the A's ass the last few years. If you want to question that further, might I request you actually provide some ####### facts?

Longoria is obviously a key part of that but his 24 WAR is a small part of the 63 fewer wins the A's have in that time frame. Differences -- they didn't trade BJ Upton (that difference captured in the earlier post); they didn't trade Carl Crawford (12.6 WAR 2008-10); they didn't trade James Shields (10.4 WAR 2008-11)*; they traded for but didn't trade away Ben Zobrist (15.7 WAR); they traded for Matt Joyce (7 WAR); they traded for Bartlett (6.7 WAR) and Garza (9 WAR); they traded for Soriano (2.5) and Benoit (2.3); they signed Damon (2.8), Kotchmann (2.9), Farnsworth (1.8), Pena (5.9).

The A's made some of those kinds of moves too but they didn't work out nearly so well. The moves they certainly did make were all those trades.

But, add it all up, and the one area where the A's did keep up with the Rays was the draft. Starting in 2012 that will almost certainly no longer be true as both the Rays drafting advantage (mainly Longoria and Price) and late round success/luck (the 5 guys mentioned above) continue/start to return significant value.

The A's are once again proving something that should be well-known -- it is very, very hard to build a good baseball team when you keep removing talent from your roster (whether via trades or letting FAs walk). Whether by luck or genius, the Rays have almost never traded away anybody who ended up any good. Whether by luck or genius, the first two major FA losses I can think of (Crawford & Soriano) stunk this year while their replacements (somewhat miraculously in Farnsworth's case) did fine.

This isn't to say all of Beane's trades were bad; I'm not even gonna say any of them were bad except in 20/20 hindsight. But if you're giving up good talent -- and Mulder, Hudson, Haren, Swisher, Gonzalez, Cahill, Bailey, Street, Blanton were all good talent -- it's very hard to break even much less win trades by a significant margin. You get better by, somehow!, trading crap for Zobrist, Garza, and Bartlett.

This isn't to deny that he had little choice but to trade most of those players given the owners weren't going to extend them -- which is the "small market window" challenge that Keri doesn't want to see -- but it's gonna make the team worse in the short-term and likely not as good as it was in the long-term. So now he's trying to get around that problem by trading away talented, cost-control players in their prime -- it doesn't seem an obvious solution now does it?

*Before I get accused of cherry picking, whaddya know Shields was the 16th round pick in 2000.
   26. zachtoma Posted: January 05, 2012 at 05:52 AM (#4029361)
*bites into hot dog during A's game at O.co Stadium or whatever*

Mmm, so tasty... plump and spicy with jalapenos and... grilled onions? Wait a second... hot chipotle salsa? That's the kind of bold flavor they enjoy in...
SAN JOSE!

   27. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 05, 2012 at 12:15 PM (#4029467)
Here is Tampa Bays. 6th, 3rd, 2nd, 1st, 4th, 8th, 3rd, 1st, 1st, 30th, 17th, 24th.

And here is the value received to date:

6.4 (retired), -4, 16.7 (FA to be), 0 (well, traded for Garza & Bartlett), 4.3, -, 24.1 (jackpot!), 10.4, -, -, -, -


Minor point, the first guy I look at, Baldelli, produced 6.8 WAR for Tampa, not 6.4. Who cares how much negative WAR a FA produces for his next team, we should be talking about value produced when players are under team control.

I suspect you are mis-estimating how much value Tampa got out of it's draft. Not from WAR directly, but mostly in value in trades.

And, no, the draft doesn't really have value in later rounds. It's pretty much a crap shoot after round 2 or 3. No team is wasting their 1st 3 rounds to cleverly pick the one guy in the 4th round who pays off.


Right, so drafting at the beginning of the 2nd and 3rd rounds has significant value over drafting in the middle/end. Drafting first in the 3rd is basically a 2nd rounder, and same drafting first in the 4th is almost a 3rd rounder. Draft position has value through out the draft. It might be de minims after the 3rd or 4th round, but I doubt that. My guess is it still has significant value all the way up through the 5th or 6th.

So I'll say it again -- the draft has had very little to do with why the Rays have kicked the A's ass the last few years. If you want to question that further, might I request you actually provide some ####### facts?

Longoria is obviously a key part of that but his 24 WAR is a small part of the 63 fewer wins the A's have in that time frame. Differences -- they didn't trade BJ Upton (that difference captured in the earlier post); they didn't trade Carl Crawford (12.6 WAR 2008-10); they didn't trade James Shields (10.4 WAR 2008-11)*; they traded for but didn't trade away Ben Zobrist (15.7 WAR); they traded for Matt Joyce (7 WAR); they traded for Bartlett (6.7 WAR) and Garza (9 WAR); they traded for Soriano (2.5) and Benoit (2.3); they signed Damon (2.8), Kotchmann (2.9), Farnsworth (1.8), Pena (5.9).


Didn't you just provide the facts for me? The As didn't have the draft position to draft Longoria, Upton, or Crawford. It's easier to fill in your roster with contributors like Damon and Pena, when you already have super cheap stars as the core of your team, something the As never have been able to do since 1999 and Zito completing their rotation of the future. Beane has been churning a bunch of cheap starters (exception CarGo), not Longorias and Crawfords.
   28. dave h Posted: January 05, 2012 at 12:27 PM (#4029476)
Walt, your analysis in #21 doesn't really make sense. You're comparing WAR over a career, but ignoring that Longoria has played in half as many seasons as Swisher. I don't know who all the players are being referenced, but it seems pretty clear that the Rays have gotten a ton more value out of the first round - it looks like the Rays have gotten about the A's WAR plus trade chits plus Longoria. That's directly related to having the #1 overall pick three times and drafting no lower than #8 for 9 straight years. Are you really arguing that having all those high picks doesn't have tremendous value, and that it's unsustainable in the long term?
   29. SoSH U at work Posted: January 05, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4029502)
Are you really arguing that having all those high picks doesn't have tremendous value, and that it's unsustainable in the long term?


It's sustainable if you do nothing with the picks, as the Pirates and Orioles and Royals have demonstrated. Just picking at the top end of the draft for multiple years is not an actual guarantee of success.

He's also arguing that the high-draft position the Rays' have enjoyed during this run has only been a small portion of their significantly better performance than the A's in the last half-dozen seasons, and that the draft itself has been one of the only areas where the A's have managed to keep up with the Rays despite their disadvantaged drafting position. And he happens to be right.


I'd guess he also knows that Jonah is, in fact, a dude.



   30. Tricky Dick Posted: January 05, 2012 at 01:36 PM (#4029525)
But far more often it’s a ######## excuse. It’s a vague, faraway goal that always seems several years out of reach. It’s a cover for cheap, greedy ownership, lousy scouting, drafting, and player development, and myopic trades. It’s a weak attempt to placate a fan base screwed over by years of management incompetence and indifference.


While I think there is a grain of truth here, I also think this understates the role of luck. Quite a few teams are attempting to undertake the full rebuilding process, based on trading for prospects and getting high draft picks to fill up the farm. The A's, Astros, Pirates, Cubs, and Mets seem to be in that mode. All of them seem to be headed toward using analytic strategies to rebuild. But this is a zero sum game. Even if all of the teams execute perfectly, some will be successful and others won't. Luck (whether due to injuries or inability to perfectly forecast prospects' potential) will be a big factor in differentiating the teams. Acquiring Zobrist ended up as a great trade for the Rays. But there was a lot of luck in that outcome too: Zobrist appeared to be a non-descript utility infielder until he started working with an unconventional batting coach he met at a private gym, who re-worked his batting approach. In a way, the full rebuild model, including the flipping of decent young arb eligible players, is based on the notion that you have to run through a bunch of prospects in order to improve your chances (or luck) in finding that star player.

Big spending teams like the Yankees and Angels can withstand bad luck more easily than a small market team. To me, that is the big difference between small market and big market teams: everything has to go almost perfectly for the small market team to get in contention.
   31. philly Posted: January 05, 2012 at 01:47 PM (#4029547)

Right, so drafting at the beginning of the 2nd and 3rd rounds has significant value over drafting in the middle/end. Drafting first in the 3rd is basically a 2nd rounder, and same drafting first in the 4th is almost a 3rd rounder. Draft position has value through out the draft. It might be de minims after the 3rd or 4th round, but I doubt that. My guess is it still has significant value all the way up through the 5th or 6th.


The last time I looked, expected draft value was essentially flat for rds 3-6. That was based on historical data from 1987-1999. I doubt it's changed much. The chance of finding significant players in those rounds is extremely low. It's a very small number of hits in an ocean of misses. It's probably easiest to argue that success in those rounds is random. I found a 2-3% chance of drating a 10+ WAR player in those rounds.

I don't think you can make a data based case that the 1st pick in the 3rd round is intrinsically more valuable than the last pick.

The A's drafting has been fine under Beane even post-Moneyball. The problem is it was great pre-Moneyball (both under Beane and the last couple years of Alderson). Great to fine is a big drop off.

The other A's problem is that the intl program went bone dry. Tejada and Ramon Hernandez were both huge successes that fed into the early 2000s success. They also had some intl trade chits that were used, but didn't pan out post trade. There's been nothing at all since.

That's not an area of success for the Rays either though. That part of player development is just starting to push some solid prospects into the high minors though so they're ahead of the A's there despite not spending huge chunks on players like Ynoa.
   32. Nasty Nate Posted: January 05, 2012 at 02:22 PM (#4029575)
It also seems likely that Tampa has assembled a more effective manager and coaching staff combo than Beane has, right?
   33. escabeche Posted: January 05, 2012 at 02:38 PM (#4029595)
It's sustainable if you do nothing with the picks, as the Pirates and Orioles and Royals have demonstrated.

Between 1999 and 2008 the Rays had one of the top 4 picks in the draft EIGHT TIMES, includling 4 overall #1s.

In the same time period, the Orioles had two such picks, both #4s.
The Royals had 5, including one #1.
The Pirates had 4, including one #1.

I don't see much evidence that the Rays have been smarter drafters than these teams. OK, except maybe the Pirates, who have a negative WAR contribution from 3 out of 4 of those picks.
   34. dave h Posted: January 05, 2012 at 03:26 PM (#4029631)
I don't think you need to worry about the late rounds to see the difference between the A's and the Rays. It looks like, according to what Walt put together, the difference between their first rounds is essentially Garza, Bartlett, and Longoria. That looks to be about 11 wins a season over their career with the Rays. They've made good selections and they've made good trades but having the #1 overall pick a bunch, and a slew of top tens, helps a lot. And the only way to get a bunch of top picks is to suck for a while - you don't get them in compensation, and you can't trade for them.
   35. Joe Kehoskie Posted: January 05, 2012 at 05:11 PM (#4029756)
Right, and the analysis above starts at two completely different points in the two teams' histories. Six years ago, Friedman took over the Rays and inherited a slew of young, premium, cost-controlled talent (plus a couple more very high picks), while the Athletics were coming out of a successful period in which they had already been drafting late in R1 for many years in a row. I don't see how it's even possible to do any sort of apples-to-apples comparison within such a relatively short period of time. Beane benefitted from his young, star core, and now Friedman is doing the same.
   36. KingKaufman Posted: January 06, 2012 at 12:02 AM (#4030060)
And the rights have minimal value to the Giants. Certainly there is some value to keeping the As out of San Jose ... But the move will be huge for the As, will increase their revenues and franchise value substantially


I think preventing the latter is of huge value to the Giants. They just don't like each other.

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