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Thursday, November 23, 2006

L.A. Times: Matthews is the centerpiece (RR)

I’ll take Harry “Sweets” Edison International Field’s version of a “Centerpiece”...thank you.

“I think he’s figured it out,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “Last year, he was consistent from both sides of the plate, his power played at home and on the road — it wasn’t just a Texas thing, playing in that park — and being a premium defender, that’s a priority for us…. The bottom line is he’ll be productive offensively and a difference-maker in center field.”

...“We’re going to look at him in the leadoff role, but he can also hit in the middle of the order from time to time,” Scioscia said of Matthews.

“He can play little ball or he can drive the ball, and he’ll add versatility and depth to the lineup. We should have more options, so we won’t go through the long dry spells we did last year.”

Repoz Posted: November 23, 2006 at 02:16 PM | 106 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. scareduck Posted: November 23, 2006 at 03:11 PM (#2244667)
Boo. Boooooo.

The Angels will be defending his contract for two futile years before finally DFAing him in 2008.
   2. AROM Posted: November 23, 2006 at 03:31 PM (#2244673)
Very depressing article in that it shows how the Angels made this decision.

1. They think a 31 year old player who had by far the best season of his career will continue to repeat it for age 32-36, instead of reverting to the mean or getting old. Damn, even if I knew 100% that 2006 was a real new level of ability, age is going to take it away from him. I'd like to see a little more pessimism in this management team. Look at the downside as well as the upside of possible transactions.

2. Figgins will be playing 3rd base. I really like Figgins, and think he can bounce back, but Maicer Izturis looks to be about as good, and where does this leave Dallas McPherson? Maybe he's never going to pan out, but I'd like to see him give n some chance.

3. "It wasn't just Texas" Good to see they understand GMjr was playing in a hitters park. But Texas had a lot to do with it, .324/.396/.512 at home and .303/.347/.480 on the road. Still, if he can duplicate his road statistics from last year I'd be overjoyed.
   3. PanRains Posted: November 23, 2006 at 03:38 PM (#2244675)
I don't necessarily believe this, but isn't there the possibility that Matthews learned to hit? Hasn't he always been relatively well thought of, and this could just be him finally putting everything together combined with getting an opportunity to play every day*?

Again, I don't believe that, but it has happened in the past. Melvin Mora was that way. Wasn't (perhaps a bad example given the rumours) Bret Boone as well?

Of course, the negative with that is that a) I can only think of two players of recent vintage like that and b) even they only sustained it for 3 years, including that big surprise year. Obviously, Mora's story isn't done being told, but it certainly seems as though age is taking a toll.

* OK, scratch the "finally getting a chance to play every day" part. He had 470 PAs in 01, 400 in 02, and 500 in 03. That's not 162 games of starting every day from wire to wire (that would be Juan Pierre) but that's not hiding your light under a bushel, either.
   4. AROM Posted: November 23, 2006 at 03:48 PM (#2244679)
I don't necessarily believe this, but isn't there the possibility that Matthews learned to hit?

Sure its possible, but how likely is it? And even if its true, how long before age robs him of his newfound ability?

One other disturbing thing from that article is the mention of Matthews defense being important because of our subpar defense in the corners with Guerrero and Anderson.

Juan freakin Rivera. What's so hard to understand? He's the best defender of your 3 corners. Stop DHing him.
   5. Repoz Posted: November 23, 2006 at 03:56 PM (#2244680)
I don't necessarily believe this, but isn't there the possibility that Matthews learned to hit?

Haven't his stat rates remained basically the same?...I would think that more balls found holes and gaps than he has learned to hit at this late stage.

One flap down...post out.
   6. Repoz Posted: November 23, 2006 at 04:05 PM (#2244684)
Maybe Stoneman was insane all along when he threw that fastball at us at Shea back in '70.

Stoneman also said that Matthews could contribute offensively.

"Sure, he's not a 40-home run guy or a 100-RBI guy, but he did hit the ball out of the park quite a few times," Stoneman said.

"I think he's heading toward an upside. Different players find their ultimate levels at different times.

"I spent many years in Montreal, which acquired Otis Nixon. He had always been a good outfielder and ran well, but he didn't hit well. While he was with the Expos, he figured it out. He must have been 30, 31 and he went on to have a very productive career."

Matthews doesn't give the Angels the big bat they need in the middle of the lineup to protect Vladimir Guerrero. Stoneman said that with the Cubs having signed Ramirez and Soriano, the talent level "falls off a bit." That leaves the option of trading for help, a route Stoneman has been reluctant to take. He may have to, if the alternative is another non-playoff finish.
.
   7. billyshears Posted: November 23, 2006 at 05:27 PM (#2244698)
I don't necessarily believe this, but isn't there the possibility that Matthews learned to hit? Hasn't he always been relatively well thought of, and this could just be him finally putting everything together combined with getting an opportunity to play every day*?

I think this signing demonstrates that front offices dominated by scouts that don't give a particularly strong voice to statistical analysis (as is generally thought to be the case with the Angels) are especially vulnerable to this type of thinking and likely, this type of mistake. Part of the problem is that Matthews has always been relatively well thought of; I think the Angels were thus a victim of confirmation bias.

Matthews is a guy that scouts have always liked - he's athletic, good defensively and has decent raw power. A scout can like a guy for a long time because he has tools, without that player translating his tools into performance. The problem occurs when that player wakes up and performs well for a season, as Matthews did. Because a scout may have previously liked that player, they might be a little too willing to see that performance as a breakout rather than a fluke or an anomaly. The recent performance justifies their past opinion, so they would rather believe the recent performance is real.

Now, if you get a few guys in a room that think the same way, you end up giving $50 million to Gary Matthews Jr. There needs to be somebody there who will say "You know guys, Gary Matthews Jr. is 31 years old and has managed only a .755 OPS in nearly 3000 ABs. Sure he had a good 2006, but every now and then the sun shines on a dog's ass. I don't think this is the guy to whom we want to give all this money. We should give JD a call." Maybe they don't go out and sign JD Drew, but somebody who can puncture the group think is very valuable.
   8. salvomania Posted: November 23, 2006 at 05:31 PM (#2244700)
...Otis Nixon. He had always been a good outfielder and ran well, but he didn't hit well. While he was with the Expos, he figured it out...and he went on to have a very productive career.

Nixon's OPS in three years in Montreal: .600 (ops+ 71); .566 (ops+ 63); .638 (ops+ 81).

In his next nine seasons, he had better than an 86 ops+ twice, with a high of 94.
   9. Shredder Posted: November 23, 2006 at 05:41 PM (#2244702)
I don't necessarily believe this, but isn't there the possibility that Matthews learned to hit?

It's also possible that he found some magic beans that made him a productive player all of the sudden, but it's not very likely.
   10. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: November 23, 2006 at 05:41 PM (#2244704)
In his next nine seasons, he had better than an 86 ops+ twice, with a high of 94.


Because OPS+ tells you everything you need to know about a terrific defensive centerfielder with above to well above average OBP who steals 50+ bases a year at a good rate. Sure, he had less power than Juan Pierre, but he was a productive player.
   11. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: November 23, 2006 at 06:06 PM (#2244714)
Otis Nixon's the one example he could pull up? As good a defender as he was, Nixon never hit. Drew some walks, stole a lot of bases, did stuff Matthews doesn't do. As the Arrested Development crew used to say, "C'MON!"

Tony Phillips, Luis Gonzales ... How many recent players have gone from scrub to star in their 30s? Not many, that's for sure.
   12. Shredder Posted: November 23, 2006 at 06:10 PM (#2244715)
As the Arrested Development crew used to say, "C'MON!"

Or, in the alternative:

"Him?" or "I've made a huge mistake."
   13. Dr Love Posted: November 23, 2006 at 06:10 PM (#2244716)
It gets better, he's got a partial no trade clause.
   14. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: November 23, 2006 at 06:19 PM (#2244718)
Very soon, the Angels will need a whole thing of candy beans to cheer them up.
   15. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: November 23, 2006 at 06:20 PM (#2244719)
I'm gonna try to hijack here, because I don't know where else to put this. But how good does Johnny Damon's contract look today?
   16. Justin T., Director of Somethin Posted: November 23, 2006 at 06:30 PM (#2244722)
Prettayyy...prettayyyy...good.
   17. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 23, 2006 at 06:40 PM (#2244726)
So is this the worst contract ever? I'm having trouble coming up with anything worse. Chan Ho Park and Mike Hampton both had pretty good two-year-or-better track records. Denny Neagle, maybe?
   18. Rich Posted: November 23, 2006 at 06:41 PM (#2244727)
From the people who think that Darin Erstad and his career 97 OPS+ is OK for a 1Bman.
   19. The Original SJ Posted: November 23, 2006 at 06:43 PM (#2244728)
I'm gonna try to hijack here, because I don't know where else to put this. But how good does Johnny Damon's contract look today?

Not as good as the less than market deal Carlos was offering the Yankees.
   20. Devin has a deep burning passion for fuzzy socks Posted: November 23, 2006 at 06:44 PM (#2244729)
I still think we need to hold off on the "worst contract" discussions until Zito's deal comes in. Although to top this one, Boras is going to have to work really, really hard - but I wouldn't put it past him.
   21. The Original SJ Posted: November 23, 2006 at 06:46 PM (#2244731)
Speaking of Arrested Development, Zach Braff is campaigning to have David Cross guest star on an episode of Scrubs, as Tobais Funke!
   22. The Original SJ Posted: November 23, 2006 at 06:50 PM (#2244732)
I still think we need to hold off on the "worst contract" discussions until Zito's deal comes in. Although to top this one, Boras is going to have to work really, really hard - but I wouldn't put it past him.

C'mon, Zito has a track record of success. Matthews has a track record of a dad who played ball. This guy was waived twice and given his outright release another time.
   23. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: November 23, 2006 at 06:55 PM (#2244734)
I still think we need to hold off on the "worst contract" discussions until Zito's deal comes in. Although to top this one, Boras is going to have to work really, really hard - but I wouldn't put it past him.


Knowing my luck, it'll be the Matsuzaka or Drew contract.
   24. Chip Posted: November 23, 2006 at 06:58 PM (#2244736)
How good do about 98% of the contracts signed during the previous CBA period look? It's going to be unfair to all sides to judge the deals the past by the current ones.
   25. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 23, 2006 at 07:16 PM (#2244745)
C'mon, Zito has a track record of success. Matthews has a track record of a dad who played ball. This guy was waived twice and given his outright release another time.

Yeah, that's where I'm coming from. I mean, with Zito you can probably expect him to show up and make 30-some starts and be above league average for the next few to several years. He might not be worth the money but he will do the job he is expected to do. Matthews could easily suck and do so very soon.
   26. baudib Posted: November 23, 2006 at 07:22 PM (#2244747)
I don't see anything wrong with the deal. He's an upgrade over Figgins in center and surely $55 million isn't going to prevent the Angels from doing anything else they want.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: November 23, 2006 at 07:30 PM (#2244749)
Oh no, the Hampton contract takes the cake. Some success sure. But 8 years, $120 M ... 8 years for a pitcher? And other than Clemens' one-year jobbies with Houston and Maddux's arb award (maybe), I don't think we've seen a pitcher sign for a higher annual salary since. The only real competition for Hampton is Wayne Garland back in the early days of FA (what was that, 10 years, $10 M?).

And yes, the Neagle contract is not that far off Hampton's. Eric Milton was about as dumb a signing as it gets though the money wasn't huge. And I still think the Paul Wilson contract, while unimportant, may be the most inexplicable contract I've seen over the last several years.

This is an overpay and, more importantly, too many years. But at least you can see what they were thinking -- guy who's figured out how to be an above-average hitter for his position and is good-excellent defensively. If those were true, he'd be worth this money easily. And there is _some_ evidence to support that, although it looks awfully flimsy to most of us.

TVe mentions Damon, another guy who learned how to hit fairly late and he signed for 4/$52 (age 32-35 seasons). If Matthews was the player the Angels seem to perceive him as, he'd be as good or better than Damon and this contract would be a bargain. And even if Matthews is just average overall, unless Damon's defense is better than I think it is, "only" $2-3 M less than Damon isn't that much of an over-reach.

So no, I don't think this makes the Damon contract look all that much better unless Damon continues to hit this way for ages 33-35. Which he might ... just as Sarge Lite might (Damon is a better bet to continue to hit well).

This is a bad contract but folks are really being too hard on Matthews. His career OPS+ and EQA are pretty much dead-average for a CF. The defensive ratings are all over the place but that suggests he should be at least average. So right now he should be an average CF and he's been an average CF for the last few years. That's not a bad thing. It's too much money, at least 2 too many years, but this is not a signing that's likely to hurt the Angels' chances. And while it's certainly possible, it's pretty unlikely that the Angels will need/want to DFA Matthews before 2010. The man is a starting caliber major-league CF -- he's just overpaid and signed for too many years.
   28. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: November 23, 2006 at 07:30 PM (#2244750)
how is he an upgrade over figgins?
   29. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: November 23, 2006 at 07:35 PM (#2244752)
This is a bad contract but folks are really being too hard on Matthews. His career OPS+ and EQA are pretty much dead-average for a CF. The defensive ratings are all over the place but that suggests he should be at least average. So right now he should be an average CF and he's been an average CF for the last few years. That's not a bad thing. It's too much money, at least 2 too many years, but this is not a signing that's likely to hurt the Angels' chances. And while it's certainly possible, it's pretty unlikely that the Angels will need/want to DFA Matthews before 2010. The man is a starting caliber major-league CF -- he's just overpaid and signed for too many years.

all of that is true, and if, say, the giants had signed him the deal would make a certain amount of sense. but the angels already had a guy who's basically a league average CF, making this deal really pointless.
   30. Fred Garvin is dead and Joe Biden is alive Posted: November 23, 2006 at 07:35 PM (#2244754)
I have to confess that, at the time, I didn't think Hampton's deal was all *that* bad -- just too long. Milton's deal was a howler, though. So was Jaret Wright's.

I'm not sure if they top this, however; a deal that makes the Pierre deal look good.
   31. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: November 23, 2006 at 07:39 PM (#2244756)
I thought the Jaret Wright contract was a real head-scratcher.

And the Randy Johnson contract extension (although one could argue that it was a condition of a trade, not a FA signing) was foolish.

I think Walt is trying to have his cake and eat it too. Damon's contract is significantly shorter; he's far more likely to be a useful player in the final part of his deal than Matthews.

But again, if you make the money more or less equal, would you (as a fan) rather have Johnny Damon for four years or Li'l Sarge for five?
   32. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: November 23, 2006 at 07:49 PM (#2244757)
Haven't his stat rates remained basically the same?...I would think that more balls found holes and gaps than he has learned to hit at this late stage.

Actually, no. Checking his stat page at THT, he cut his infield fly rate (AKA pop outs) in half. His line drive % went up, but wasn't as high as it was in 2004. (Wasn't there a problem with BIS's line drive info from one year, though?)

I think this signing demonstrates that front offices dominated by scouts that don't give a particularly strong voice to statistical analysis (as is generally thought to be the case with the Angels) are especially vulnerable to this type of thinking and likely, this type of mistake. Part of the problem is that Matthews has always been relatively well thought of; I think the Angels were thus a victim of confirmation bias.

Flip it around. Your reaction demonstrates that fans whose thoughts are dominated by statistical analysis don't give a particularly strong voice to scouting. That's a bit harsh, and I do think it's a bad signing (he looks like a hitting version of Todd Ritchie to me) but they're one of the best run teams in baseball. I'd at least like to know why they signed him before declaring them complete & utter idiots.
   33. guelphdad Posted: November 23, 2006 at 07:50 PM (#2244758)
Lousy contracts, what about Darren Dreifort at 5/$55? he was nothing special at the time he signed.
   34. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: November 23, 2006 at 07:50 PM (#2244759)
By any reasonable three-year weight, Damon is an All-Star level centerfielder, maybe a step or two below. Matthews is a below-average hitting CF (Walt and I differ on that point).
   35. baudib Posted: November 23, 2006 at 07:53 PM (#2244760)
how is he an upgrade over figgins?


He's a better player. Hell, he's a better player than Garret Anderson.
   36. The Original SJ Posted: November 23, 2006 at 08:22 PM (#2244769)
This is a fine deal if you think Gary Matthews Jr will continue to repeat his career year for 5 years.
   37. frannyzoo Posted: November 23, 2006 at 08:26 PM (#2244772)
He's a better player. Hell, he's a better player than Garret Anderson.


Just to confirm...this is Gary Mathews, Jr. were talking about? Right? Not Eddie Mathews. Not even Sarge Sr.. We're talking about Gary Freakin' Mathews Jr.? Just making sure.
   38. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: November 23, 2006 at 08:34 PM (#2244775)
I'm Gary Matthews, Jr. You're watching Hardball on MSNBC. Later, we'll speak with Connecticut congressman Christopher Shays. But next Andy Dick joins us for a talk about the Michael Richards controversy.
   39. Russ Posted: November 23, 2006 at 08:43 PM (#2244777)
Maybe they don't go out and sign JD Drew, but somebody who can puncture the group think is very valuable.

Baseball (and even better, sports) management has the same problem as politics. Once you join a baseball organization, your personal goal is not to win games, your personal goal is to stay in baseball. Yes, winning games helps, but it's not a certainty that if you win you'll get to stay. So you try to win while not doing anything or saying anything that will get you kicked out of the baseball fraternity.

I think most successful coaches in sports are successful for that reason. They don't care if they get fired or not (or at least they don't act like they care). The really great managers and GM's (regardless of philosophy) handle their teams in a way that says "This is my way and if you don't like it, I dare you to fire me." Part of that is that they have the press cred to do it, but I think a lot of it is also personality. In baseball, I'm beginning to think that it does not really matter as much how you build the team, but that you have a coherent plan for doing it. If you want to be pitching and defense, that's fine, but go out and get the best pitchers and the best defenders you can afford. Draft for those types of players, trade the kinds of players you're not interested in, etc.

Unsuccessful teams tend to bounce back and forth between several plans... many of their moves seem counter to their stated goals. This is inevitably the result of too many visions in the room when decisions are made. Beane has done a very good job of advocating a single party line for the A's organization. Dissenting voices do not last long... yes, it can create a stale atmosphere, but at the same time, you get coherent decisions that are not the result of compromise.
   40. Halofan Posted: November 23, 2006 at 09:11 PM (#2244786)
Garbage Matthews Junior shows that the Angels learned NOTHING from their Dteve Finley signing.
   41. Halofan Posted: November 23, 2006 at 09:12 PM (#2244788)
(he is not even worth fixing a typo over)
   42. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: November 23, 2006 at 09:15 PM (#2244789)
He's a better player.

In what sense?
   43. Iwakuma Chameleon (jonathan) Posted: November 23, 2006 at 09:16 PM (#2244790)
You can only conclude from this offseason that the A's and Angels are really eager for a Texas Rangers AL West Championship run.
   44. Robert S. Posted: November 23, 2006 at 09:30 PM (#2244794)
Texas has a 2007 WS victory written in the stars.
   45. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: November 23, 2006 at 09:35 PM (#2244797)
I get the impression that Gary Matthews Jr. is the type of players who thrives in situations where there's low expectations. He played great for the O's for half a season and then came back the next season with the same expectations. I think the expectations got to him, he started to press at bit and then he never found his stroke. I'm guessing the weight of his new contract will get to him and he'll flop next year. That said, out of the five years of his contract I could easily see him having a couple of respectable seasons for the Angels where he hits .275/.350/.460 once he gets used to the pressure of his contract. The other seasons probably won't be pretty.
   46. scareduck Posted: November 23, 2006 at 09:37 PM (#2244798)
That's a bit harsh, and I do think it's a bad signing (he looks like a hitting version of Todd Ritchie to me) but they're one of the best run teams in baseball.

I submit that this signing should, at the very least, call the final words of that sentence into question if not outright contradict it.
   47. The NeverEnding Torii (oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh) Posted: November 23, 2006 at 09:39 PM (#2244799)
Is the plan really to let Matthews play CF and lead off and use Figgins as the everyday 3B? I don't know about the Angels, but I'm not ready to give up on McPherson yet and though I love Figgins, Izturis would probably do just as well. When I first heard about this signing, I thought that the possibility of trading Figgins was just around the corner. I don't want to see it happen - especially when Chone's replacement is Gary Matthews Jr.

On a different note - maybe I have too much empathy for people, but I feel bad for Matthews. I picture him checking out message boards and baseball forums, wondering what they're saying about him. "Man, it'll be nice to play for a West Coast team. Maybe buy myself a nice place in Anaheim Hills. Plus, the fans are great there. Ooh, here's a thread about my signing! "Gary freakin' Matthews? We may as well have signed Dave Matthews?" Aw, c'mon man... Dave Matthews? I'm not that bad."
   48. BDC Posted: November 23, 2006 at 09:56 PM (#2244802)
Texas has a 2007 WS victory written in the stars

Possibly via the Showalter Rule, but one thing was certain: neither Matthews nor DeRosa was likely to have a particularly good year for them if they'd stayed, and they didn't stay. They have some catching up to do to equal even the '06 version of themselves ...
   49. Justin T., Director of Somethin Posted: November 23, 2006 at 10:06 PM (#2244806)
How does Texas replace the production of Matthews? Sure, Matthews wouldn't have done it himself, but Texas did get a very good offensive season out of their CF. So, who will keep them from wishing they could just have Sarge Jr. back?
   50. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: November 23, 2006 at 10:07 PM (#2244807)
On a different note - maybe I have too much empathy for people, but I feel bad for Matthews. I picture him checking out message boards and baseball forums, wondering what they're saying about him.

He can comfort himself 50 million ways over the next five years.

I agree with Grinch -- for a team with only two guys who can legitimately figure 20 homers and has no lefty power source, McPherson really deserves another shot. It may well be that injuries and his inability to lay off the up and away is going to make him a scrub, but I see no reason why he can't at least be as useful as Russ Branyan.
   51. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: November 23, 2006 at 10:24 PM (#2244813)
So is this the worst contract ever? I'm having trouble coming up with anything worse. Chan Ho Park and Mike Hampton both had pretty good two-year-or-better track records. Denny Neagle, maybe?

Here's the best comp I have: Erick Dampier. In 2004, he signed a $73 million, 7-year deal immediately after the only distinctly above-average season of his career to that point. He had been languishing for 5 years previously in which he was the definition of mediocre, averaging 8 points and 6 rebounds annually, though many had thought highly of his potential. Erick Dampier is the NBA version of Gary Matthews, Jr.

So what can we learn about Gary Matthews, Jr. from Erick Dampier's last 2 years? Essentially nothing. They play different sports. However, I think we can learn something about the teams that gave out these contracts. The Mavericks and Angels are both operating with relative wealth and a willingness to spend it in a league without a hard cap. Dampier's contract seemed destined to provide too high an annual salary and too many years than were warranted based on his track record. His 2 seasons since have confirmed that he is only a marginally above-average player. Did his contract prevent Mark Cuban from locking up Jason Terry and Josh Howard to big deals this past offseason? Certainly not. Similarly, the Matthews contract will not prevent Arte Moreno from spending in the short- or long-term.

Free agents are worth more money to big market/wealthy teams. It's like conducting a fantasy auction in which 3 teams have $300 to spend, 3 have $200, 3 have $150, and 3 have $100. A team with $300 should get the best players; otherwise, the wealthy teams are undervaluing talent or a poorer team is massively overspending relative to its budget. The truly shocking thing about free agency is that a team like the Blue Jays does end up with top-tier players. This really should not happen. If the Blue Jays deem BJ Ryan to be worth 10-15% of their payroll, could he really not be worth 5% to the Yankees or 7% to the Red Sox? Likewise, if the Pirates had signed Matthews to that contract instead of the Angels, it very well may have been the worst contract ever. They would be dedicating 20-25% of their payroll to him when they have slightly lesser options for the league minimum. The Angels are paying Matthews 6-8% of their budget. When you factor in the strength of the Angels farm system and the fact that they will be underpaying for K-Rod, Lackey, Figgins, Rivera and especially Santana and Weaver, they are certainly justified in overpaying for small upgrades. For this reason, if I were an Angels fan, I would not be particularly upset by this deal.
   52. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 23, 2006 at 10:44 PM (#2244818)
they are certainly justified in overpaying for small upgrades. For this reason, if I were an Angels fan, I would not be particularly upset by this deal.

There's a lot of truth to this, and I think, for example, it's the best argument in favor of the Cubs' signing of Soriano.

The problem here is that it's not at all clear that the Angels have paid for even a small upgrade.

Here's ZIPS projections, all as Angels, for Matthews, Figgins, and Reggie Willits (BA/OBP/SLG):

Matthews, .274/.342/.433 (8 SB)
Figgins, .272/.345/.389 (43 SB / 14 CS)
Willits, .272/.352/.346 (22 SB / 13 CS)

If the Angels move Figgins to 3rd, then you could view Matthews as replacing McPherson in the lineup:

McPherson, .263/.323/.503

It's debatable, certainly, but I'm not sure that I wouldn't pick Matthews 4th of those 4. And that's for year 1 of a 5-year contract, where Matthews is on the wrong side of 30 and all 3 of these other guys are on the right side.
   53. baudib Posted: November 23, 2006 at 10:54 PM (#2244820)
In what sense?


In the sense that he produces more wins for his team.
   54. Dr Love Posted: November 23, 2006 at 11:11 PM (#2244822)
In the sense that he produces more wins for his team.

Win Shares over the past three years:

Matthews 45 (11, 12, 22)
Anderson 45 (15, 16, 16)
Figgins 59 (20, 22, 17)

I'd say both are the better bet to produce more wins for the Angels in 2007.
   55. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: November 24, 2006 at 12:24 AM (#2244832)
The man is a starting caliber major-league CF -- he's just overpaid and signed for too many years.

Agree with all of this. To me, this is most concerning because the organization thinks such a guy is worth (a) paying that much and (b) signing for that long. I wouldn't have been excited, but I would have been okay with a two-year deal with a club option on a third year. A couple of years ago, you could have signed a guy like this to a two-year deal worth $6M. Hell, a three-year deal worth $15M, I coulda swallowed that.

But five years? For a 32-year-old? For $10M per when Vlad only averages $14M per? Madness. The market's just way out of whack, and Stoneman went barging in, anyway.

***

I don't know if I buy Matthews being better than Figgins. The Legs' EqA the last four years is .265 (.262 weighted) and Matthews' is .260 (.265 weighted). That's pretty close offensively, and Figgins on defense is competent-at-worst at three positions (2B, 3B, CF) while Matthews, best-case, is a bit above average in CF. Figgins is also around three years younger, and probably a better overall baserunner (even beyond the SB).

Matthews isn't going to derail the Angels in 2007 by any stretch, unless there's an utter collapse. But he's not really going to push them toward a championship unless he's gone all Melvin Mora on us and 2006 wasn't a fluke.

But in two or three years, he'll likely be receiving $10M to be below-average, and that cannot be ignored in evaluating the deal.
   56. Andere Richtingen Posted: November 24, 2006 at 02:05 AM (#2244850)
Lousy contracts, what about Darren Dreifort at 5/$55? he was nothing special at the time he signed.

Yeah, that one probably takes the cake.
   57. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: November 24, 2006 at 02:27 AM (#2244852)
In the sense that he produces more wins for his team.

Are you being deliberately obtuse? HOW will Matthews produce more wins? I don't see any significant offensive or defensive advantage that Matthews has over Figgins.
   58. Spahn Insane Posted: November 24, 2006 at 03:00 AM (#2244857)
Are you being deliberately obtuse?

The answer is "yes."
   59. schuey Posted: November 24, 2006 at 04:17 AM (#2244873)
Worst contract ever will always be Wayne Garland. A ten year contract for a pitcher with one good year.
   60. Dr. Vaux Posted: November 24, 2006 at 04:51 AM (#2244879)
It was only $200,000 a year, though, which even at the time wasn't enough to be very significant to an MLB club.
   61. Cooper Nielson Posted: November 24, 2006 at 05:18 AM (#2244884)
But in two or three years, he'll likely be receiving $10M to be below-average, and that cannot be ignored in evaluating the deal.

With the current state of baseball (rapidly increasing revenues, labor peace), isn't it possible that in two or three years, $10M won't seem like much money, even for a (slightly) below-average player?

Or is another "market correction" looming?
   62. mgl Posted: November 24, 2006 at 06:11 AM (#2244893)
Where does this notion come from that 06 was this gigantic anomolous year for him? The last 3 years lwts (per 150 games) for Matthews was:

+14
0
+15

Granted in 03 he was -18, but in 02 he was +5.

It is funny that Scoscia said that Matthews finally “turned the corner” in his batting talent/approach this year. If that is true, he must have also “turned the corner” in 04, and then went back around the corner in 05, and then turned it again in 06. Not to mention the fact that he must have turned the corner in 02 (after being -13 in 01) and then went WAY back around the corner again in 03. These are all "normal" fluctuations in batting metrics for a player who is NOT drastically changing his true underlying talent other than by the normal aging/learning process.

I think that Sarge Jr. is a well-above average CF overall and that Pierre is average or a little above overall. UZR loves both of them in CF. Given the market for FA this year I don’t think either signing was bad.

I also wonder about the criticisms levied against signing FA's in their late 20’s or early 30’s to long-term contracts. One, almost ALL FA’s are in their late 20’s or early 30’s and two, what you lose in production in age, you generally gain in salary inflation. IOW, from an economic/performance perspective it really doesn’t matter the length of a contract, for batters at least.
   63. Darren Posted: November 24, 2006 at 06:38 AM (#2244896)
mgl,

how would sarge compare to Drew, particularly in UZR?
   64. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 24, 2006 at 06:42 AM (#2244899)
Where does this notion come from that 06 was this gigantic anomolous year for him?

Because in 2006, he hit .313/.371/.495 whereas in 2004 he hit .275/.350/.461. How does an improvement of .021 in OBP and .034 in SLG only translate into one run over 150 games?

And is a swing of 33 runs from one year (2003) to the next (2004) really "normal"? That seems pretty extreme.
   65. billyshears Posted: November 24, 2006 at 06:53 AM (#2244901)
Flip it around. Your reaction demonstrates that fans whose thoughts are dominated by statistical analysis don't give a particularly strong voice to scouting. That's a bit harsh, and I do think it's a bad signing (he looks like a hitting version of Todd Ritchie to me) but they're one of the best run teams in baseball. I'd at least like to know why they signed him before declaring them complete & utter idiots.

Reread my post and tell me where I called them complete and utter idiots. I think my point was that you need diversity of viewpoints to contradict the weaknesses of a particular baseball philosophy. Obviously, statistical analysis has its own vulnerabilities, but I think performance analysis, because it relies on actual performance, is less vulnerable to this particular type of mistake. A lot of the point of scouting is to project future performance and to see something in a player that isn't there yet. Occasionally, they're going to see something that isn't there and never will be. Doesn't make them idiots - it's just an occupational hazard. Before a baseball team commits $50 mil to a player, I think there should be somebody who doesn't suffer from this occupational hazard to voice his opinion. And for all I know, there may have been a stathead in the room who loved this deal. Or he may have screamed and screamed in opposition to it and was overruled. But my hunch is that there wasn't.
   66. DCW3 Posted: November 24, 2006 at 08:17 AM (#2244913)
Because in 2006, he hit .313/.371/.495 whereas in 2004 he hit .275/.350/.461. How does an improvement of .021 in OBP and .034 in SLG only translate into one run over 150 games?

Yeah, that +14 for 2004 looks *way* off. My calculations have him at +1 that year. I'm sure MGL's formulas are far more advanced than what I'm using, but that's a very big gap.
   67. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: November 24, 2006 at 08:38 AM (#2244914)
Is that lwts including defense and everything? I don't see how his hitting that year is a +14 over 150. He played in 87, and Davenport has him at +2 Batting Runs Above Average, and I can't imagine that being too far off of MGL's lwts.

If that's his overall, he's around 9 or 10 runs above average over the last three years, so if replacement is set at -17, he's around three wins above replacement. $2.5M per win, that's $7.5M. That seems like the best case.

Because in 2006, he hit .313/.371/.495 whereas in 2004 he hit .275/.350/.461. How does an improvement of .021 in OBP and .034 in SLG only translate into one run over 150 games?

Especially when the league park-adjusted hit 280/345/445 in 2006 but 283/353/454 in 2004. Compared to league, he's adding .029 of OBP and .043 in SLG.
   68. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: November 24, 2006 at 08:42 AM (#2244915)
I also wonder about the criticisms levied against signing FA's in their late 20’s or early 30’s to long-term contracts. One, almost ALL FA’s are in their late 20’s or early 30’s and two, what you lose in production in age, you generally gain in salary inflation. IOW, from an economic/performance perspective it really doesn’t matter the length of a contract, for batters at least.

I understand what you're saying, but is there a chance in hell this guy will be worth $10M at ages 36 and 37? It looks like the max he has been worth is around $8M (assuming the figures you give include defense, arm, baserunning, and dancing ability), and he's almost certainly well past his peak.
   69. baudib Posted: November 24, 2006 at 09:27 AM (#2244918)
Are you being deliberately obtuse? HOW will Matthews produce more wins? I don't see any significant offensive or defensive advantage that Matthews has over Figgins.


Over the course of their careers,the two appear to be fairly even offensively, but the trend is supporting Matthews. Over the past three years, Sarge's EQA's have been .280, .265, .255; Figgins .272 .266 .254. Matthews has 5.8 EQR per 27 outs the past three years, Figgins 5.2. It's small but not insigificant a difference. I don't believe there is any case that Figgins has a defensive advantage over Matthews, so it appears that Matthews is unequivocably better.

Someone who is superior offensively and defensively to another player will generally produce more wins.
   70. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: November 24, 2006 at 10:40 AM (#2244923)
You know how the +14 in 2004 makes sense? If you were using the park factor for Petco (where Matthews played in 2003) instead of the park factor for The Ballpark.
   71. Gaelan Posted: November 24, 2006 at 11:10 AM (#2244926)
Mathews line last season is entirely driven by an improvement in batting average (his isolated power is the same as the last three seasons) which is in turn driven by a BABIP of .349 which is 30 points higher than in 2004 (.322). His career average is .304. I think 2004 would be an optimistic projection for him.

I also don't see how those two lines could have the same linear weights.
   72. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: November 24, 2006 at 03:05 PM (#2244951)
Over the course of their careers,the two appear to be fairly even offensively, but the trend is supporting Matthews. Over the past three years, Sarge's EQA's have been .280, .265, .255; Figgins .272 .266 .254. Matthews has 5.8 EQR per 27 outs the past three years, Figgins 5.2. It's small but not insigificant a difference. I don't believe there is any case that Figgins has a defensive advantage over Matthews, so it appears that Matthews is unequivocably better.

Funny...Matthews has a "small" offensive advantage, and that somehow makes him "unequivocably better"? $7M per year better?
   73. Spahn Insane Posted: November 24, 2006 at 03:11 PM (#2244952)
See, the $7M is key in this case, because Figgins was *already under the Angels control.* Why in the world would you take on a 5-year commitment at over 3 times the salary for that small an advantage?

Also, I'd argue that in light of their respective ages, Matthews' expected decline will probably more than offset his "small advantage" on offense. But even if you don't assume that, and place absolute faith in their respective EQRs, it still doesn't justify a moderate (at best) Figgins upgrade at over 3 times the price.
   74. scareduck Posted: November 24, 2006 at 04:03 PM (#2244963)
I don't believe there is any case that Figgins has a defensive advantage over Matthews, so it appears that Matthews is unequivocably better.

The supporting numbers do not back this up. Whether by Baseball Prospectus's Rate2, ESPN's Zone Rating, or old-fashioned fielding percentage, Matthews is a worse fielder:
Player    Rate2   ZR  FPCT
==========================
Matthews    94  .847  .947
Figgins    100  .884  .980

This is a simply awful signing, the worst misallocation of dollars by the franchise since Mo Vaughn, and really, by anyone so far in this offseason.
   75. scareduck Posted: November 24, 2006 at 04:10 PM (#2244966)
And for all I know, there may have been a stathead in the room who loved this deal. Or he may have screamed and screamed in opposition to it and was overruled. But my hunch is that there wasn't.

Angels management — and, we suppose, any posited statheads they may have in their organization — are in love with numbers nobody else has shown correlate to runs scored. If they have statheads, they either

1) have discovered the true secret of clutch hitting and aren't sharing it with the rest of us
2) are routinely overruled or are never even consulted
3) exist only to validate managerial prejudices.

I consider (1) highly unlikely. Take your pick of the other two.
   76. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: November 24, 2006 at 05:20 PM (#2244988)
How is Dreifort's contact not widely seen as the all-time worst? I know it wasn't as long or as much as Hampton's, but Hampton threw nearly as many inning his first year with the Rockies as DD pitched the whole contract with the Dodgers! Come on!
   77. robinred Posted: November 24, 2006 at 07:01 PM (#2245013)
1) have discovered the true secret of clutch hitting and aren't sharing it with the rest of us

According to Matt Welch's article about the Angels' organizational philosophy in the 2006 HBT, the Angels are very focused, organization-wide, on tracking BA with RISP and RISP with 2 outs, teach a hitting style that focuses on plate coverage in that situation very intensely throughout the organization; and going into 2006, had done very well in that category.

Now of course we don't know what other organizations do in this area or how it compares, but Welch did emphasize that the Angels make a huge deal of it--not just tracking it, but teaching it.
   78. mgl Posted: November 24, 2006 at 07:44 PM (#2245030)
I understand what you're saying, but is there a chance in hell this guy will be worth $10M at ages 36 and 37? It looks like the max he has been worth is around $8M (assuming the figures you give include defense, arm, baserunning, and dancing ability), and he's almost certainly well past his peak.

Apparantly you don't understand what I am saying. Players typically lose 2-3 runs a year in offensive production in their mid to late 30's. The salary inflation rate has been 10% a year (I think) for a long time now. Do the math.

My calcs for his 06 lwts are not based on the PBP data which I have not compiled yet, so it might be higher than I wrote. His 04 lwts are correct though. They are offense only and are park and opponent adjusted. They are computed similarly to the way "standard" lwts is computed except IBB's and sac bunt attempts are eliminated, ROE's are included, and the values for the out are adjusted for handedness of the batter as well as GB/FB ratio. And don't forget to include HBP's.

I am assuming that this off-season, anything better than 4 mil per marginal win is a "decent" (not bad) deal, BTW, and that anything less than 3 mil per win is a bargain.

BTW, Figgins' UZR in CF in 97 games this year was -4 per 150. Last year it was -11 in 52 games. In 04, it was -19 in 41 games, and in 03 it was +8 in 42 games. That is a total of -10 in 232 games or -6.5 per 150 for the last 3 years.

Here are Matthews and Drew:

06
Matt +3 (132)
Drew +12 (128)

05
Matt +23 (95)
Drew -14 (25)

04
Matt +42 (26) in CF, +16 (56) in RF
Drew +11 (124) in RF
   79. Kiko Sakata Posted: November 24, 2006 at 07:52 PM (#2245034)
His 04 lwts are correct though.

In light of #'s 66, 67, and 70 above, I find this hard to believe. What did lil' Sarge do so well in 2004 that doesn't show up in his bb-ref stat-line that it's worth +12 per 150 games?
   80. DCW3 Posted: November 24, 2006 at 07:54 PM (#2245039)
His 04 lwts are correct though. They are offense only and are park and opponent adjusted. They are computed similarly to the way "standard" lwts is computed except IBB's and sac bunt attempts are eliminated, ROE's are included, and the values for the out are adjusted for handedness of the batter as well as GB/FB ratio. And don't forget to include HBP's.

In any event, the notion that 2006 was "this gigantic anomolous year" for Matthews comes from the fact that there's no stat anywhere except what you're using that has him hitting anywhere near as good in 2004 as he did in 2006.
   81. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 24, 2006 at 08:04 PM (#2245043)
According to Matt Welch's article about the Angels' organizational philosophy in the 2006 HBT, the Angels are very focused, organization-wide, on tracking BA with RISP and RISP with 2 outs, teach a hitting style that focuses on plate coverage in that situation very intensely throughout the organization; and going into 2006, had done very well in that category.


The Angels, from what I can tell, do a tremendous job in manufacturing runs per the definition in the 2007 Bill James Handbook - not just that they score a lot of manufactured runs (manufactured runs are to some extent inversely related to OBP, so lots of them aren't necessarily a good thing), but also that when they get into a situation where a manufactured run is possible, they convert those situations a high percentage of the time.

-- MWE
   82. Danny Posted: November 24, 2006 at 08:17 PM (#2245052)
I don't know how the BJH defines efficiency by an offense, but here's how the Angels have fared based on EQA/EQR versus actual runs scored (a negative number indicates underperformance)

2006: -12
2005: +22
2004: +18
2003: -7
2002: +20
2001: -39

I don't know how much of this is due to situational hitting or just good baserunning, but it seems to have a nice correlation with their team success.
   83. Danny Posted: November 24, 2006 at 08:23 PM (#2245054)
Oh, and Lee to the Astros. 6/$100M
   84. Shredder Posted: November 24, 2006 at 09:13 PM (#2245089)
This is a simply awful signing, the worst misallocation of dollars by the franchise since Mo Vaughn, and really, by anyone so far in this offseason.

This deal isn't even comparable to the Vaughn deal. Mo was coming off six straight years of an OPS+ between 137 at the low end and 155 at the high end. He was only 31 that first season. In 2000, the only season he was healthy, he hit 36 homers and drove in 117 runs (on a team that was pretty good at clearing the bases - they had one player with more than 40 homers, two others with over 30, and a lead off hitter with 25). Hell, he was even productive in his first year when he played the whole season with a messed up ankle. I still don't think that was an awful deal at the time, but his injuries and attitude over time obviously screwed all that up.

Also, that team didn't have someone at first base/DH who was already as good a hitter as Mo was. They had a legitimate need for a power bat at first base. The Matthews signing does nothing to address the need for a center field that the Angels couldn't have already done in house much cheaper.

And hey, first basemen, third basemen, and catchers should still be paying him royalties for the popularization of the Mo Vaughn fence.
   85. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: November 24, 2006 at 09:32 PM (#2245101)
Apparantly you don't understand what I am saying. Players typically lose 2-3 runs a year in offensive production in their mid to late 30's. The salary inflation rate has been 10% a year (I think) for a long time now. Do the math.

Assuming his projection is somewhere around +10 (the average of his last three seasons), a loss of two or three runs would be more than the 10% in salary inflation. Even if we assume his true talent level is around +15, a loss of two runs is a 13% decrease. So it appears that his projected annual devaluation in offensive production would outstrip the annual salary inflation.

This, of course, doesn't not include his defense, and I don't know what the annual loss in UZR would be for a player in his 30s.
   86. baudib Posted: November 24, 2006 at 09:34 PM (#2245105)
The Matthews signing does nothing to address the need for a center field that the Angels couldn't have already done in house much cheaper.


Who is this mystical, unknown person in the Angels' orgainzation that is a better CF solution than Gary Matthews Jr.?

I can maybe understand that people think Matthews is being overpaid, despite what the market is doing right now. But the idea that Matthews doesn't represent an upgrade in CF for this team is baffling.
   87. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: November 24, 2006 at 09:42 PM (#2245110)
His 04 lwts are correct though. They are offense only and are park and opponent adjusted. They are computed similarly to the way "standard" lwts is computed except IBB's and sac bunt attempts are eliminated, ROE's are included, and the values for the out are adjusted for handedness of the batter as well as GB/FB ratio. And don't forget to include HBP's.

Well, he had 1 HBP and 4 ROE, so those aren't the source of the large difference between your lwts and other sources. He did have his lowest GB/FB that year, and his highest LD% (though I don't believe that the latter has any impact). I'm not saying that +14 for that year is necessarily wrong, but it certainly appears unique, which is why Scioscia and everyone else here have been treating 2006 as an anomaly.
   88. mgl Posted: November 24, 2006 at 09:47 PM (#2245112)
You are not doing it right, LA. The +10 (or whatever his projection is) is runs above average. You do not divide the 2 or 3 run loss by the +10 (or +15). How can you do that? What if his projection were +1? Would that be a 200% or 300% loss?

An older player will lose around 25% of a win per year. That is around a million dollars on the FA market right now. If he starts out being paid 10 mil a year, that is a 10% decline in the first year. That is around the inflation rate for salary.

The exact numbers are of course debatable and one can argue what salary inflation will be over the next 5-10 years. The point is that a player's decline in production due to age is spproximately equal to salary inflation. Or at least in the same ballpark. Criticising long-term deals is overstated at best and groundless at worst (or do I have "best and worst" reversed?).

Going into 06, I had Metthews projected at 2.6 wins above replacement (.8 wins above average). That will go up for 07 due to his offense this year and the fact that he more removed from his terrible 03 offensive campaign. Probably around 3 wins above replacement. 10 mil a year for 3 wins above replacement (3.3 per) is a decent contract right now. Not great, but not terrible or even bad. My new standards for contracts is: More than 4 mil per win is bad, 3-4 is O.K. Less than 3 is good and less than 2 to 2.5 is a steal.
   89. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: November 24, 2006 at 09:58 PM (#2245118)
You are not doing it right, LA. The +10 (or whatever his projection is) is runs above average. You do not divide the 2 or 3 run loss by the +10 (or +15). How can you do that? What if his projection were +1? Would that be a 200% or 300% loss?

Well, now I feel stupid, which is what I deserve for trying to be analytical on a holiday weekend.

I certainly hope you are right about Matthews.
   90. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: November 24, 2006 at 10:09 PM (#2245127)
Nate Silver says that due to the new CBA and annual revenue growth, the dollar value of a marginal win has gone up by around 30% this year, which would suggest approximately $2.5M per win. If teams that aren't rrrriiiggghhhttt on the cusp of a playoff berth are paying substantially more than $2.5M/win, why isn't it possible that they're *all* overpaying, because there is a market bubble and people are overestimating the increase in the marginal value of a win? You can still lose money on a deal even if you lose less money than the guy next door...
   91. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: November 24, 2006 at 11:02 PM (#2245168)
Who is this mystical, unknown person in the Angels' orgainzation that is a better CF solution than Gary Matthews Jr.?

Is Matthews worth $7M a year more than Figgins? It's a simply yes or no question.
   92. Shredder Posted: November 24, 2006 at 11:29 PM (#2245190)
Is Matthews worth $7M a year more than Figgins? It's a simply yes or no question.

Figgins aside, he's not worth $9.5MM more than Reggie Willits, who will at least draw a lot of walks and play great defense.

But the answer to the original question is no.
   93. Dandy Little Glove Man Posted: November 24, 2006 at 11:33 PM (#2245196)
Is Matthews worth $7M a year more than Figgins? It's a simply yes or no question.

I disagree. Every team does not face the same circumstances, and it is decidedly not a yes or no question. For most MLB teams, Matthews would not be worth $7M more than Figgins. For the Angels, he quite possibly is. The Angels have a lot of money, several young and underpaid players already on the roster, no foreseeable holes in the pitching staff and still an above-average farm system. The money really means very little to them in terms of limiting their options going forward. There are only a finite number of free agents available, and none will be out of their price range because of this signing. In addition, Figgins appears to be an excellent trade chip for the Angels judging from the rumors of teams interested in him at his current low salary. This move not only represents a likely upgrade at CF but also enhances the team's ability to trade for an additional offensive upgrade. Did I think Matthews would get this big a deal? No. Does it make sense for the Angels? In my opinion, it does.
   94. Dr. Vaux Posted: November 24, 2006 at 11:34 PM (#2245198)
Would the Angels sell significantly fewer tickets with Reggie Willits in CF than Matthews, or with MacPherson at third than Figgins at third with Matthews in CF? I don't know the answer, so it's not a rhetorical question; there's not only paying for "certainty" but for (a) the fans to feel like they're trying their best, and (b) more importantly, the media to tell the fans that they're trying their best, instead of telling them the opposite. That, it seems to me, is worth a fair amount of money.
   95. Walt Davis Posted: November 24, 2006 at 11:45 PM (#2245204)
Is Matthews worth $7M a year more than Figgins? It's a simply yes or no question.

Well, you've got your numbers wrong. Figgins is owed $8.25 M for 2007-08 according to Cots. It appears he would have one more year of arb then become an FA before the 2010 season. Let's give him the same raise for 2009 that he gets in 2008 which adds another $5 M. Who knows what his first two years of FA will cost but let's guesstimate $12.75 M total just for kicks and to give us a round number. So those mostly phony numbers would put Figgins at 5/$26.

Let's assume that Matthews is 1 win better than Figgins (I know many will disagree and maybe rightly so). So now we get into debates about the cost of a marginal win. If MGL's right, 5 wins should cost about $17.5 M. Advantage Figgins but that would also put Matthews overpaid by "just" $1-1.5 M a year.

That's not meant to be analysis, just a scenario. Figgins is younger and so the gap is likely to narrow over time. The 1 win assumption is big. Figgins may well make a good bit more in the future than I have assumed above, narrowing the money gap.

Now, is Matthews worth $6.25 M more than Figgins for 2007 -- sure doesn't look like it to me. Will he be worth $10 M more than Willits in 2009. Well, I know nothing about Willits but there's a very good chance that some young, pre-arb player available to the Angels for at least some part of 2009-2011 will make Matthews look very overpaid.

There are other interesting hidden assumptions in here. Figgins to 3B. OK, that might happen and probably wouldn't be a bad thing. Does that mean McPherson's out of the lineup or moved to 1B or DH? Would that mean Rivera to DH and Anderson finally to 4th OF?

These aren't bad decisions for teams to have to make. The Angels now appear to have 7 above-replacement, maybe even all average or better players for 6 positions (3 OF, 1B, 3B, DH). Good for them, that makes them a better team. The chances that at least one of those 7 suffer a serious injury has to be pretty high and even if not, the "loser" in this battle probably still gets 400 PA. They also now have a chit to trade if they choose not to keep all 7.

It is a bad contract. I don't mind people objecting to that at all. I don't think it's as disastrous as most though I'm nowhere as optimistic as MGL. But this signing does increase the talent level of the Angels and it would be good to see that acknowledged before folks start ripping the management to shreds and pointing out the other options (which is a very valid point).

I certainly won't defend this as an "optimal" signing; I won't even defend it as a perfectly OK signing; but I don't think it reaches the level of bad and certainly not worthy of comparison to Hampton et al.
   96. The Bones McCoy of THT Posted: November 25, 2006 at 12:04 AM (#2245211)
I have the luxury of not being an Angels' fan so I feel free to write this. Despite the apparent absurdity of this contract it's not hard to happy for Matthews himself. Here's a guy that was basically fired from some of MLB's worst teams--generally a sign that it's time to give up the dream.

He hung in there and suddenly he's at the right place at the right time and bammo! $50M richer. Yeah, it's no fun if he's gonna be a drain on your team but sometimes it's nice to remember that these guys are folks just like us. He was probably thrilled just to have a big league career and now suddenly he walks into a jackpot.

Money aside, at the very least he knows that somebody's going to try to make sure they get some value out of him almost guaranteeing five extra years in the bigs.

Yeah, it's a little insane but I'm happier witnessing this than I would be if Jeffrey Loria and David Samson managed to lie and connive their way into close to a half billion in corporate welfare.

At least Sarge Jr. worked to get into his current situation.

Best Regards

John
   97. billyshears Posted: November 25, 2006 at 12:27 AM (#2245219)
The exact numbers are of course debatable and one can argue what salary inflation will be over the next 5-10 years. The point is that a player's decline in production due to age is spproximately equal to salary inflation. Or at least in the same ballpark. Criticising long-term deals is overstated at best and groundless at worst (or do I have "best and worst" reversed?).

How can this be? It seems like you're saying that there wouldn't be much difference between signing Matthews to a 5/50 deal and a 10/100 deal because inflation and age related decline will counteract each other to keep the value proposition of the contract consistent. But doesn't there have to be a point at which age related decline makes a player completely worthless so that any money that is being paid to that player is wasted?
   98. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: November 25, 2006 at 01:26 AM (#2245237)
Actually, the most intriguing questions brought up here don't really have anything to do with Matthews, but have to do with the market. Do we see the market continuing to inflate over the next few years? Has its past inflation been on a direct line trending up, or are there fits starts, bubbles surging and bursting? Is this offseason the harbinger of things to come, or just a crazy outlier? These are actually very important questions for evaluating free agents.
   99. JPWF13 Posted: November 25, 2006 at 01:52 AM (#2245251)
According to Matt Welch's article about the Angels' organizational philosophy in the 2006 HBT, the Angels are very focused, organization-wide, on tracking BA with RISP and RISP with 2 outs, teach a hitting style that focuses on plate coverage in that situation very intensely throughout the organization; and going into 2006, had done very well in that category.


Well in 2006 they were 10th in the AL in OPS and...
10th in OPS with RISP

They are 8th in BA overall- 6th with RisP...
   100. scareduck Posted: November 25, 2006 at 07:23 AM (#2245408)
According to Matt Welch's article about the Angels' organizational philosophy in the 2006 HBT, the Angels are very focused, organization-wide, on tracking BA with RISP and RISP with 2 outs, teach a hitting style that focuses on plate coverage in that situation very intensely throughout the organization; and going into 2006, had done very well in that category.

Now of course we don't know what other organizations do in this area or how it compares, but Welch did emphasize that the Angels make a huge deal of it--not just tracking it, but teaching it.


I'll keep repeating this because it doesn't seem to make any nevermind to anyone here: is there anyone who's ever done a study indicating that better success with RISP/RISP2 hitting correlates to more runs scored? Insofar as I've ever seen, the answer is no, it does not.

That is, the Angels are selling themselves AND their future major leaguers on snake oil. The fact that they teach this swill at the minor league level is indicative of an organization completely in love with voodoo. Earl Weaver-style offenses really do work, and it's easy to show how high-OBP, high-SLG teams score more runs than their competition. The same cannot be said for RISP and RISP2.
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