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Monday, July 21, 2014

Trading for Price would be right move for Cubs | FOX Sports

The latest Robothal.

Jim Furtado Posted: July 21, 2014 at 11:55 AM | 77 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rumors

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   1. Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: July 21, 2014 at 11:58 AM (#4755165)
Umm.....Yeah, no.
   2. JRVJ Posted: July 21, 2014 at 12:12 PM (#4755178)
I don't agree.

It's not time yet for the Cubs to move on this, and if they were to sign Scherzer or Lester in the off-season, it would only cost them a 2nd round pick (plus cash).
   3. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: July 21, 2014 at 12:20 PM (#4755185)
I just don't understand why Price with only a couple of months left to free agency, would re-up with the Cubs instead of testing the market.
   4. Rennie's Tenet Posted: July 21, 2014 at 12:26 PM (#4755190)
This is tangential to the Price proposal: has anyone ever studied if the load up on prospects/dump veterans at the deadline model is a good strategy? You hit contenders when they're needy, but also when they can't give anything useful from their major league roster, and then only half the teams are contenders and as a group they probably have sharper management.
   5. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: July 21, 2014 at 12:26 PM (#4755191)
[3] It depends on how willing the Cubs are to pay the Price.
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 12:32 PM (#4755194)
and if they were to sign Scherzer or Lester in the off-season

Why would they choose to sign with the Cubs, unless the Cubs grossly overpay?

The idea is to sign Price now, when there is only one bidder. If Price doesn't want to extend, then there's no point.
   7. villageidiom Posted: July 21, 2014 at 12:38 PM (#4755200)
[3] It depends on how willing the Cubs are to pay the Price
Offseason Headline Writes Itself
   8. PreservedFish Posted: July 21, 2014 at 12:39 PM (#4755202)
And yet they opted not to use: Price is Right for Cubs
   9. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: July 21, 2014 at 12:42 PM (#4755204)
The Cubs should always be interested in a player like Price no matter where they are in the current standings. Of course, it depends on what TB wants and if Price will sign an extension and the two of those together mean this is probably not going to happen.
   10. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: July 21, 2014 at 12:49 PM (#4755211)
I just don't understand why Price with only a couple of months left to free agency, would re-up with the Cubs instead of testing the market.


I believe he's a year and a couple of months to free agency. According to BBRef he's not an FA until after next year.
   11. Nasty Nate Posted: July 21, 2014 at 12:51 PM (#4755213)
I just don't understand why Price with only a couple of months left to free agency, would re-up with the Cubs instead of testing the market.


He's 15 months away from free agency.

Edit: Coke to Jose
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 12:52 PM (#4755214)
I believe he's a year and a couple of months to free agency. According to BBRef he's not an FA until after next year.

Cot's agrees, and it makes sense. If he was an upcoming FA, TB would be going all out to trade him.
   13. Nasty Nate Posted: July 21, 2014 at 12:53 PM (#4755215)
This would make more sense in the offseason than right now (for both the Cubs and Rays).
   14. PreservedFish Posted: July 21, 2014 at 12:58 PM (#4755219)
It's not time yet for the Cubs to move on this


I disagree with this. There are not aces of Price's caliber available every year.

The "success cycle" is rarely as gradual and predictable as it's made out to be. Teams make huge leaps all the time - you cannot just wait until the Cubs are an 84 win team before you start investing in frontline talent.

There are many examples of teams buying big free agents too early and then reaping the rewards sooner than expected. The Mets signing Carlos Beltran coming off of 71 wins, the Tigers signing Ivan Rodriguez coming off of 43 (!) wins. When the A's signed Yoenis Cespedes this board was full of confusion as to why a rebuilding team would do such a thing.

I don't know what the premium would be on upgrading Samardzija to Price, both in terms of talent and eventual contract size, but it's certainly worth exploring. The truly elite players sometimes seem to be bargains in this sport.
   15. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 01:56 PM (#4755258)
The truly elite players sometimes seem to be bargains in this sport.


Price is very good, but I wouldn't put him in the truly elite category. Bonds, Maddux, Randy Johnson, those were the truly elite, and three of the best ever free agent signings. I think of Price more in the k
Kevin Brown mode, and that worked out OK I guess. LA got 4 AS/CYA type seasons for their $105 Mil. Price is considerably younger than Brown though.
   16. Swedish Chef Posted: July 21, 2014 at 02:08 PM (#4755266)
Why would they choose to sign with the Cubs, unless the Cubs grossly overpay?

If they could sell them on their project, and why shouldn't they be able to do that? There's not many teams that look like bullet-proof contenders over the next few years, the Angels and Dodgers maybe. A big-market team loaded with talent, and you can be the face of the coming dynasty.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 02:17 PM (#4755272)
If they could sell them on their project, and why shouldn't they be able to do that? There's not many teams that look like bullet-proof contenders over the next few years, the Angels and Dodgers maybe. A big-market team loaded with talent, and you can be the face of the coming dynasty.

Because guys are short-term focused. If a bunch of teams are bidding who've been in the playoffs recently, you're going to have to pay more to get them to endure likely losing campaigns in 2015 and 2016.

There are going to be lots of teams in on those guys; most of them are better than the Cubs.
   18. McCoy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 02:19 PM (#4755275)
Which team hasn't "grossly overpaid" for premier free agents? It is an empty statement.
   19. PreservedFish Posted: July 21, 2014 at 02:30 PM (#4755283)
Price is very good, but I wouldn't put him in the truly elite category. Bonds, Maddux, Randy Johnson, those were the truly elite, and three of the best ever free agent signings. I think of Price more in the k
Kevin Brown mode, and that worked out OK I guess.


Yeah, I'd agree with that. But compared with Samardzija? If Samardzija is a $18 million per year guy and Price is a $25 million guy? I'd take Price.

Because guys are short-term focused.


I'm guessing that free agent Price ends up with whoever offers the most money.
   20. boteman Posted: July 21, 2014 at 02:35 PM (#4755289)
Everybody's talking about Price, but I'd be curious to hear more about the value proposition.

It seems clear that the teams most interested would be those on the borderline of contending and don't want to wait until mid-August to find out if it's #WorldSeriesOrBust for them.

OTOH, with the parity we see across the NL I'd expect the Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers, and Braves to be in the mix as they all have legitimate aspirations for post-season play and another good pitcher can only help. I'm a bit surprised the Nats aren't rumored to be at least in the discussion as Tanner Roark has us thinking he is pitching over his head and might be due for a return to Earth.

But there might very well be suitors who are unknown publicly that surprise us with the news of their acquisition.
   21. madvillain Posted: July 21, 2014 at 03:12 PM (#4755323)
OTOH, with the parity we see across the NL I'd expect the Cardinals, Giants, Dodgers, and Braves to be in the mix as they all have legitimate aspirations for post-season play and another good pitcher can only help. I'm a bit surprised the Nats aren't rumored to be at least in the discussion as Tanner Roark has us thinking he is pitching over his head and might be due for a return to Earth.


Seattle sports talk radio is discussing it today. For Seattle, they need an everyday player a bat, more than Price. What, is Price gonna make 10 starts for them? At best, more likely it would be 8, in his 8 starts are you gonna go 8-0 when you would have went 4-4, or worse? Probably not, best case you say he improves you by 2 wins, that gets them what, 85 wins?

And then you have to resign him?

The list of teams Price would really help (ie, in the postseason) is small: Angels, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants and Braves, as you mentioned, mostly teams that barring a complete collapse, will be in the post season and need an ace to help push them to a series win.
   22. Nasty Nate Posted: July 21, 2014 at 03:38 PM (#4755330)
And then you have to resign him?

You don't have to re-sign him. He's on your team for 2015 or you can trade him for a good return over the winter.
What, is Price gonna make 10 starts for them? At best, more likely it would be 8, in his 8 starts are you gonna go 8-0 when you would have went 4-4, or worse? Probably not, best case you say he improves you by 2 wins, that gets them what, 85 wins?

This really doesn't make much sense. Throughout his career, Price has made 5+ starts per month like clockwork, yet "at best" he would make 4 per month in August and September this year?
   23. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 03:45 PM (#4755335)
hat, is Price gonna make 10 starts for them? At best, more likely it would be 8, in his 8 starts are you gonna go 8-0 when you would have went 4-4, or worse? Probably not, best case you say he improves you by 2 wins, that gets them what, 85 wins?

This really doesn't make much sense. Throughout his career, Price has made 5+ starts per month like clockwork, yet "at best" he would maker 4 per month in August and September this year?

If Price replaces Erasmo Ramirez (83 ERA+, 5.71 FIP) and gives you 10 starts, that has to be worth 3 or 4 expected wins, doesn't it?

Giving up 2.5 fewer runs per game has to be worth a ton to a low scoring team, in a low scoring environment.

   24. PreservedFish Posted: July 21, 2014 at 03:46 PM (#4755338)
Probably not, best case you say he improves you by 2 wins, that gets them what, 85 wins?


Whenever you look at the math on any of these short-term acquisitions the effect seems underwhelming.
   25. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 21, 2014 at 03:48 PM (#4755339)
The "success cycle" is rarely as gradual and predictable as it's made out to be. Teams make huge leaps all the time - you cannot just wait until the Cubs are an 84 win team before you start investing in frontline talent.

I agree with the above but the Cubs will have a good amount of cash to throw around this offseason. Before spending premium talent to upgrade the MLB team in trade, they should probably wait and see what pure cash can get them. From that perspective, a deal for Price probably works much better in February than July - even with the risk Price is off the market by then.
   26. zonk Posted: July 21, 2014 at 04:02 PM (#4755342)
Why would they choose to sign with the Cubs, unless the Cubs grossly overpay?

If they could sell them on their project, and why shouldn't they be able to do that? There's not many teams that look like bullet-proof contenders over the next few years, the Angels and Dodgers maybe. A big-market team loaded with talent, and you can be the face of the coming dynasty.


Why indeed...

Look, generically - if you're a youngish player that still has 8-10 years left on your career and the most critical thing to you is winning a title, then sign with the Yankees. It's pretty much as simple as that. Sure - season to season, if you're 38-39-40 and this might be your last chance, then maybe the Tigers, the Dodgers, etc might be a good bet. However, someone Price's age? Either sign with the Yankees or listen to the front offices pitches on the "plan" to contend.

Beyond that, though -- other reasons to sign with the Cubs --

1) Even shitty, they still draw a lot better than other shitty teams. Yes, attendance is down - but the team still draws pretty close to full houses for weekday August games when they're 20 games out. I've been to more than a few suburban stadiums late in the year when the home team is out of contention and it really is still night-and-day. I imagine that the same might be true other teams -- probably the Red Sox and some others -- but there are a handful of teams that via whatever methods you ascribe, are just going to be more "interesting" to play for.

2) Signing with the Cubs, and should you win a title here -- you're going to instantly become a legendary celebrity. I bet Dustin Byfuglien still never has to buy a drink when he visits Chicago, and the Hawks have a cup since he left. Mike Ditka and virtually every single member of the '85 Bears are still basically gods in this city. If you want to truly be remembered as a part of something special -- hard for me to see how any other team in baseball can match the Cubs on the whole "Just think about what it would be like if you were a member of the first Cubs team to win a series since 1906". 10 years ago - the Red Sox could probably offer the same.... but now?

3) If said player has a family -- I don't think it can underestimated how nice it might be to have more than your share of day games... Sure, sure - the MLB schedule isn't much for family life in the summer and the Cubs day games slate is slowly eroding. But - on a homestand, you're still going to get the opportunity to actually have dinner with your wife and kids a few dozen more times during the season than you would playing for anyone else. There have been plenty of former Cubs that have very much spoken about this as a plus.
   27. Nasty Nate Posted: July 21, 2014 at 04:04 PM (#4755344)
Not including his cup of coffee year, Price has made 11, 11, 12, 10, and 12 starts after July 31.
   28. Fred Garvin is dead to Mug Posted: July 21, 2014 at 04:53 PM (#4755356)
Mark my words: Eventually, this will be misreported somewhere as a rumor that the Cubs are interested in David Price, citing Ken Rosenthal.
   29. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 05:09 PM (#4755368)
If Samardzija is a $18 million per year guy and Price is a $25 million guy? I'd take Price.


Agree. Going back to my late 90's analogies, if Price is Brown, BPJ is Chan Ho Park.
   30. villageidiom Posted: July 21, 2014 at 05:43 PM (#4755379)
Look, generically - if you're a youngish player that still has 8-10 years left on your career and the most critical thing to you is winning a title, then sign with the Yankees.
I don't see how "Cardinals" isn't a better answer here.

A better question, I guess, is "Which team has the best chance of dominating their division in the next 8-10 years, if they get David Price?" The Cardinals might still be the best answer here. I don't think it's a team in the AL West, AL East, or NL West.
   31. Walt Davis Posted: July 21, 2014 at 06:05 PM (#4755385)
If Price is Brown the sign me up. I can't see any reason to think Price will be anywhere near as good as Brown in his 30s but if you're willing to personally guarantee those millions, I'll do it. :-)

Sabathia with less mileage seems a better comp. P-I also turns up Lester (very close through 28) and (making crude era adjustments) Matlack, Finley (less control), Pettitte (fewer Ks) with an upside of Carlton.

From 29-34, none of those guys were any better than they had been but they were all solid. Lester at 124 ERA+ for 29-30, Pettitte 122, Carlton 119, Finley 116, CC 115. All of the non-Lester guys have made it to at least 930 innings (CC).

It's really an interesting comp list -- pitchers through age 28, LHP, ERA+ of 115-125, expansion era, at least 800 IP. My specific comps were based on K and K/BB but the general list is interesting. Nobody was really better from 29-34 than they were through 28 but half of them showed no decline at all and 16 of 19 were at least average. 5 failed to make it to 650 IP but those were mostly the guys who already had 1800+ innings by 28.

So chances look pretty good for Price to last at least another 1000 innings with about a 50% chance of no decline and 75% chance of being at least average. Looks like a solid buy.

All that said, I don't see any point in trading Samardzija for good talent than turning around and swapping an equivalent amount of talent for Price. Even if we take Price as being the better pitcher, it doesn't look like a major upgrade to me and I would rather keep the young talent and buy an FA pitcher.
   32. PreservedFish Posted: July 21, 2014 at 06:23 PM (#4755395)
All that said, I don't see any point in trading Samardzija for good talent than turning around and swapping an equivalent amount of talent for Price. Even if we take Price as being the better pitcher, it doesn't look like a major upgrade to me


I don't get this. Price beats Samardzija pretty solidly in just about everything. Fangraphs' in-season ZiPS has him worth double the WAR over the next 12 starts.

If the Cubs flipped the same package they got from the A's and landed Price with it the baseball world would go apeshit.
   33. SteveM. Posted: July 21, 2014 at 06:38 PM (#4755404)
The Cubs need a pitcher like Price. I doubt they are able to pay for a pitcher like Price. The Ricketts are flat broke.
   34. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 06:50 PM (#4755407)
(33) Sad, but probably true.
   35. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: July 21, 2014 at 07:00 PM (#4755413)
It certainly could make sense for the Cubs if Price is open to an extension. But for that to make sense the Cubs have to have the best offer for Price. Logically, they wouldn't. A team that is only contending for this year and next year, with no intention to resign Price could conceivably offer less than the Cubs. But a team that is both A) contending this year and next year and B) has interest in Price long-term, would logically outbid the Cubs, as Price's value is greater to them. Maybe the players in the minors on the various teams don't work out that way because the Cubs put Russell+ on the table, but if the Cubs land Price they've almost certainly overpaid.
   36. McCoy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 07:43 PM (#4755426)
The Cubs can outbid any contender because they have the most room to spare.
   37. PreservedFish Posted: July 21, 2014 at 08:05 PM (#4755438)
But for that to make sense the Cubs have to have the best offer for Price. Logically, they wouldn't.


This makes sense in the abstract but we're only talking about a handful of teams that are having serious talks about Price right now - it's entirely possible that the Cubs make the best offer without overpaying.
   38. Ziggy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 08:40 PM (#4755450)
If there's surplus value to a contract for Price (or Lester or Scherzer or etc) then the Ricketts have enough money to afford him. It's not like you're going to give him $150m up front, it gets paid out over the length of the contract, while he's making money for you.

Maybe I'm the one missing something, but I don't get the "we can't afford player x" line. Unless you do something stupid (like giving Wayne Garland a 10 year contract), these guys are *assets*. Now, maybe you can't afford him because he'll generate more money in a larger market (or on a more competitive team or whatever), and a team in the larger market (/whatever) will bid more than he would generate for you. Okay, fair enough. But so long as a player is signing for less money than he would generate for your club, any club can afford, in an absolute sense, any player.
   39. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 08:53 PM (#4755455)
If there's surplus value to a contract for Price (or Lester or Scherzer or etc) then the Ricketts have enough money to afford him.

Virtually no big FA contracts generate surplus value.
   40. Ziggy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:03 PM (#4755463)
Then why do they get signed? The whole point is the make money on these things.
   41. McCoy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:10 PM (#4755469)
Then why do they get signed? The whole point is the make money on these things.

To win games, because other players get paid 500 grand, and because teams make fabulous amounts of money.
   42. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:13 PM (#4755472)
Then why do they get signed? The whole point is the make money on these things.

No, the whole point is to win.

Every team gets significant surplus value on minimum salary and pre-Arb guys. They reallocate that salary to Free Agents, because that's the only place you can buy talent now.

If you take the total MLB payroll and divide it by total WAR generated in MLB, you'll get a $/WAR much lower than the $6M/WAR you see in FA deals.

e.g. in 2013 FG has total MLB WAR as 1000. Total opening day payrolls in 2013 were $3.14B.

You're looking at a cost per WAR of $3.15-3.25M, maybe $3.5M tops (if signing bonuses are not reflected in opening day payrolls.

Basically all FA deals cost more than the value of a win, but they are subsidized by the players still under team control.
   43. Nasty Nate Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:16 PM (#4755476)
Usually surplus value for FAs refers to surplus value compared to other FA signings.
   44. PreservedFish Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:17 PM (#4755477)
If you take the total MLB payroll and divide it by total WAR generated in MLB, you'll get a $/WAR much lower than the $6M/WAR you see in FA deals.


I thought that I was the only person that understood this.
   45. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:21 PM (#4755480)
Usually surplus value for FAs refers to surplus value compared to other FA signings.

Yes, but it's odd to call that "surplus value".
   46. Walt Davis Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:27 PM (#4755482)
I don't get this. Price beats Samardzija pretty solidly in just about everything. Fangraphs' in-season ZiPS has him worth double the WAR over the next 12 starts.

If the Cubs flipped the same package they got from the A's and landed Price with it the baseball world would go apeshit.


Why?

OK, Price is 1.5-2 wins per year better than Samardzija. Do teams generally trade top young prospects for 2 win upgrades? Isn't that the equivalent of trading Addison Russell for a league-average CF?

I understand the trade would amount to Samardzija for Price, a good trade. But Samardzija for Russell and signing Lester will cost you essentially the same amount, gain you essentially the same wins and leave you ahead by one Russell. Seems pretty close to a no-brainer to me.

David Price had one gob-smackingly awesome year in the last 4 but isn't Kevin Brown. We find Price-level or better SPs on the FA market every year. Or I'd call the Phils about Hamels.

Now if Price is willing to extend at some ridiculously low price ...
   47. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:36 PM (#4755488)
I understand the trade would amount to Samardzija for Price, a good trade. But Samardzija for Russell and signing Lester will cost you essentially the same amount, gain you essentially the same wins and leave you ahead by one Russell. Seems pretty close to a no-brainer to me.

Price is a good deal better than Lester.

For 2011-14, Price is at 777.2 IP, 3.11 ERA, 3.11 FIP, 8.6 K/9, 2 BB/9 and 0.8 HR/9. Lester is at 747.1 IP, 3.75 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 111 ERA+, 8 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9.

Price is also 1 year, 8 mos. younger.
   48. Walt Davis Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:40 PM (#4755493)
Basically all FA deals cost more than the value of a win, but they are subsidized by the players still under team control.

But the point is about revenue generated. We really have no idea what that relationship is. On average we could probably guess using MLB payroll as a % of (estimated) revenues and these days that suggests a multiplier of, what 2.3 up to 2.5.

If the average (above-replacement) win costs $3-3.5 M, then it generates 6.9 to 9 M in revenue. If it's towards the top end, then $6-7 M per FA WAR still generates more revenue than it costs. Assuming that extra win has essentially no impact on the other costs (not clear to me why it would), that's profit. It's a lot less profit than they're making on the pre-FA guys but still profit.

I too find it unlikely teams are willing to just break even on FA contracts because there's so much profit being generated below. I am willing to believe the profit margins are really thin but not zero much less negative. I am willing to believe that the revenue from a marginal win varies substantially by market and playoff chance but that just argues that FAs will produce more revenue per win.

Whether there really is a reliable, linear relationship between wins and revenues is something I'm willing to question.

To get back to Price -- remember, all the Cubs would be trading for is 1.3 seasons of Price and an exclusive negotiating window. The first .3 seasons are already wasted ... heck, they'd make us less likely to get a top draft pick. I don't expect the Cubs to contend in 2015 although it's not impossible if they gamble well on the FA market ... but that suggests the other year of Price is, well, not wasted but is a drive for mediocrity. Does an exclusive negotiating window with Price guarantee us a big enough discount as to be worth Russell or similar? I just don't see it.
   49. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:45 PM (#4755497)
But the point is about revenue generated. We really have no idea what that relationship is. On average we could probably guess using MLB payroll as a % of (estimated) revenues and these days that suggests a multiplier of, what 2.3 up to 2.5.

I doubt it's that high. Remember, a lot of the revenue is fixed. National TV rights, MLBAM, revenue sharing if you're small market, the 1.5 M tickets that even the worst team sells.

I would guess the marginal revenue from a win is nowhere near $9M.
   50. Walt Davis Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:53 PM (#4755502)
Because Lester had a ridiculously terrible 2012, completely out of character with anything else he's done. You're better off ignoring that sort of stuff when you've got a track record of performance before and after.

By WAR:

Price 2010-14: 4.8, 2.8, 6.8, 2.8, 2.6
Lester 2008-14: 6.1, 6.3, 5.2, 4.4, 0.7, 3.0, 3.0

Lester has out-WAR'd him 4 of the last 5 seasons and has two seasons before that basically as good as Price's best. Those first 5 years of each list, they were the same age and Lester wins that 22 WAR to 19 WAR, despite that terrible year.

Price's main advantage over Lester is being two years younger. But given he slightly outpitched him last year and so far this year, it's difficult to claim Price is the better pitcher right now.
   51. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 21, 2014 at 09:54 PM (#4755505)
Because Lester had a ridiculously terrible 2012, completely out of character with anything else he's done.

Why would we ignore that? You don't get better model by throwing out recent data, especially data from only 2.5 years ago.

Also, Lester's performance in 2008 and 2009 really isn't relevant to his projections. No proj. systems use 7 years of data, there's no added explanatory value plus 5 (at the high end).
   52. Ziggy Posted: July 21, 2014 at 11:05 PM (#4755541)
Walt's got it. The surplus value is the marginal revenue having the player on your team generates minus his cost. And the point of this, from the perspective of the front office (who sign these deals, not the fans, who don't), is to make money. Not to win, except in so far as the two are related. (And they're related only imperfectly. Remember the Marlins.) If the marginal revenues generated by free agents was generally lower than their cost, front offices would stop signing them and the salaries they can command would drop.

Second topic: No, we can't ignore Lester's bad year. It doesn't fit in nicely with a 6-6-5-4-3-3 pattern, but that's not Lester's pattern. His pattern is 6-6-5-4-1-3-3. Lester might lay a stinker again - he's done it in the past, after all. That said, I think I'm on board with the "sign Lester don't trade for Price" plan. I don't see Price giving the Cubs much of a discount in exchange for an early pay day. He's not one of these pre-arb guys, he's arb-eligible with a CYY award on his mantle and $34m (probably $50 after next season) in career earnings. He's set for life already, and even if he comes down with Prior-itis in the next year, his track record is good enough that he'd still make several million more before he's done. Signing Price to an extension will mean paying full FA prices for it. Even if Lester isn't as good, I think it's a better idea to hang on to the prospects (I presume that trading for Price would mean giving up some really good talent; last I heard the Mariners were trying to build a package around Taijuan Walker to get him) and sign Lester. In fact, I think this is what fans should want - Russell and friends look really good, I suspect that the Cubs could win more games with them + Lester than without them but plus Price.
   53. PreservedFish Posted: July 22, 2014 at 12:26 AM (#4755551)
And the point of this, from the perspective of the front office (who sign these deals, not the fans, who don't), is to make money.


Am I so naive to think that some of these teams do primarily want to win?
   54. TJ Posted: July 22, 2014 at 08:25 AM (#4755582)
OK, Rosenthal, I'm sold- the Cubs should trade prospects to get David Price. My question is, which ones? I doubt the Rays will accept a Mike Olt/Junior Lake/Brett Jackson/Josh Vitters package...

I think my beloved Detroit Tigers should trade prospects and get David Price, too. Can I now write for Fox Sports?
   55. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 22, 2014 at 08:58 AM (#4755593)
Am I so naive to think that some of these teams do primarily want to win?

I definitely think many teams spend on FA's far beyond the marginal value of the extra wins.

A big part of the economics of baseball is building franchise value, and you do that by winning. Teams are not being run to optimize short term cash flow.
   56. T.J. Posted: July 22, 2014 at 02:21 PM (#4755769)
The Ricketts are flat broke.

I've heard this enough that I don't doubt it to be true, but: how? The payroll is dirt cheap, and AFAIK Wrigley still pulls in lots of people. Do they need a new TV deal and stadium renovations before they can start spending?
   57. SteveM. Posted: July 22, 2014 at 02:37 PM (#4755776)
In order to buy the team, the Rickwtts were forced by the Tribune to enter an arrangement designed to lessen the tax debt on the Tribune by the sale.
Essentially, the sale us not complete until 2018 or 2019 IIRC and forces enormous debt payments.
   58. zonk Posted: July 22, 2014 at 02:41 PM (#4755781)

I've heard this enough that I don't doubt it to be true, but: how? The payroll is dirt cheap, and AFAIK Wrigley still pulls in lots of people. Do they need a new TV deal and stadium renovations before they can start spending?


Well, I think it's mostly debt load -- the team year-to-year now might well be very much in the green, but I think the Ricketts' purchase of the Cubs was highly leveraged on credit, and if (and we really ought to remember "IF") all the rumors are true, it's entirely possible that the Ricketts are simply tapped out from an income/assets perspective and their lack of money to spend on the Cubs stems from the fact that they're having difficulty just keeping up payments on the initial, highly financed acquisition to begin with...

...'course, there are a couple of Ricketts (and actually, one on the right and one on the left of the political spectrum) that are big time political rainmakers. But then, in classic Donald Trump fashion - the individual is never wanting for money... the shell entity or entities, though, well...

Personally, I'm willing to cut the Ricketts slack because it's not like they cut spending EVERYWHERE. They're simply not investing in big ticket FA's (and based on how those have turned out, was that really the wrong plan?). They've spent up to their draft allocation. They overspent last year on the international amateur period (to the point that they had restrictions this year, I believe). Those, of course, are fractional expenses compared to other FA shopping - but they haven't gone cheap everywhere.... just in very specific - but highly visible - places.
   59. cheng Posted: July 22, 2014 at 02:52 PM (#4755793)
Price may not get traded at all this year. If the Rays choose to wait until the offseason, the Cubs should absolutely make an offer centered around Russell + another bat (Schwarber or Almora) and a couple of B-/C+ guys. If they can sign Lester for 5/120 that gives them Price/Lester/Arrieta at the top of the rotation, Jackson eating innings, a young bullpen with upside (Ramirez and Rondon) and a young, talented, cost-controlled infield of Rizzo/Alcantara/Castro/Bryant. Would it be so difficult to see that team find an OF here and an SP there and go for it in the NL Central? They'd still have plenty of high end talent on the farm led by Baez and Soler, and still have some interesting arms in A/AA. Adding Lester and Price, along with built-in raises for guys like Castro and Rizzo, increases payroll by $50-60m, but even that just takes them back to mid 2000s payroll levels, something a team in that market should easily support.

Theo needs to turn this impressive collection of assets into a functional ML roster, just like the Rays did in 2008. The big difference is that he should have a much bigger budget to work with than Friedman did. If they don't go for that kind of payroll increase half the city should get out the pitchforks for the Ricketts family.
   60. zonk Posted: July 22, 2014 at 02:56 PM (#4755796)
Jackson eats innings like a Bulimic -- inevitably, they come back up as puke.
   61. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 22, 2014 at 03:20 PM (#4755824)
If they can sign Lester for 5/120

Not going to happen.
   62. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: July 22, 2014 at 03:33 PM (#4755838)
Barney has been DFA'd per mlbtr
   63. zonk Posted: July 22, 2014 at 04:15 PM (#4755862)
Barney has been DFA'd per mlbtr


Um, wow?

Goes to show how leaning too heavily on WAR - especially when dWAR makes up such a huge component, and especially when we haven't yet figured out how to deal with the shift -- can be really flawed.

Still, I'm more than a bit shocked they couldn't get a bag of balls for him (I guess they still could)... I mean, he really can pick it at 2B and he can play SS. There are really no contenders interested in him as even a #2 backup utility IF?
   64. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: July 22, 2014 at 04:24 PM (#4755870)
I suspect a trade will soon but they made the move for the roster space to showcase bonifiacio before the deadline.
   65. McCoy Posted: July 22, 2014 at 04:38 PM (#4755882)
In order to buy the team, the Rickwtts were forced by the Tribune to enter an arrangement designed to lessen the tax debt on the Tribune by the sale.
Essentially, the sale us not complete until 2018 or 2019 IIRC and forces enormous debt payments.


The stories about the deal don't really make sense. If the Ricketts can't afford to make debt payments or if they are so onerous that it curtails baseball activities then buying the team normally would have done the same thing. I mean it is not like they wouldn't have had to take out a loan to buy the team anyhow.
   66. McCoy Posted: July 22, 2014 at 04:43 PM (#4755887)
Goes to show how leaning too heavily on WAR - especially when dWAR makes up such a huge component, and especially when we haven't yet figured out how to deal with the shift -- can be really flawed.

Don't they take out the shift numbers for the metrics? Barney may be great with the glove but there is probably 4 or 5 dozen guys in the minors who could be as great or better with the leather and be just as bad with the bat. The guy can't hit major league pitching. It is time to stop paying him millions and move on.
   67. PreservedFish Posted: July 22, 2014 at 04:52 PM (#4755893)
Barney is a strong platoon player. Vs LHP he's .320/.380, on top of that fantastic defense. Wonder if the A's will be interested.
   68. zonk Posted: July 22, 2014 at 05:08 PM (#4755909)
Don't they take out the shift numbers for the metrics? Barney may be great with the glove but there is probably 4 or 5 dozen guys in the minors who could be as great or better with the leather and be just as bad with the bat. The guy can't hit major league pitching. It is time to stop paying him millions and move on.


Well, I don't know that ANY 2B -- absent messy outliers created by a shift heavy team -- can truly be worth 3.6 wins a year with the glove. Maybe I could see that from an Ozzie-level SS or Devo White CF.... but I'm just not buying it from a 2B.

That said - he was making 2.3 mil which isn't all that much for someone you give (or waste, depending) ~600 PAs a year on.

Figure he's gotta be owed about, what, another mil? If there's a contender that can use him - and as PF says, he's not as hopeless against LHP - hard for me to see how a mil becomes a sticking point.
   69. SteveM. Posted: July 22, 2014 at 05:57 PM (#4755934)
I have no clue why you designate Barney and not just send down Lake and\or Olt. They have been horrible, in part, because they are left moldering on the bench and used once a week.
   70. SouthSideRyan Posted: July 22, 2014 at 10:04 PM (#4756038)
Fujikawa should be ready to come back early next week, and they'll need a 40 man spot for him.

Lake and Olt have been horrible in full, because they are horrible.

Lake started 18 out of 26 team games in June, and he put up a .200 OBP I'd find a similar stretch for Olt, but there's seriously not a single split that makes him look good, so why bother.
   71. SouthSideRyan Posted: July 23, 2014 at 01:22 AM (#4756116)
The long national Mike Olt nightmare is over, he goes to AAA as Wada comes up.

Soler to AAA, Almora to AA
   72. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: July 23, 2014 at 01:45 AM (#4756124)
Ssr I just was about to post that. I think solar will be first up from the aaa team since he is already on the 40 man and has a mlb contract.
   73. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: July 23, 2014 at 01:52 AM (#4756125)
Come to think of it i do t olt will get much playing time at aaa unless its as a dh. Also i suspect that iowa cubs could be the chicago cubs on a regular basis
   74. Moses Taylor, Moses Taylor Posted: July 23, 2014 at 09:19 AM (#4756174)
Gosh, it would be fun to take in an Iowa Cubs game right about now.
   75. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: July 23, 2014 at 09:25 AM (#4756176)
I'm a bit surprised at the Almora promotion. I know the FSL is a pitcher's league but his lack of walks and lack of power are really hurting him (though he's been hot the last month or so).

The Soler promotion is understandable given his contract situation and batting line, but it 's only about 80 PAs.

So, are the Cubs getting agressive and trying to have the cavalry all come to Chicago in 2015? This seems a strange contrast to how much they have been pumping the brakes on Bryant's progress.
   76. Moses Taylor, Moses Taylor Posted: July 23, 2014 at 09:42 AM (#4756182)
Someone who writes for either CSN.com or Cubs.com was a guest in the booth during a game this past weekend and he* said he thought both Soler and Baez would be up this year, possibly September. If they came up end of this year, and broke with the team next year, and then Bryant came up a month or so into next year**, it'd make a lot of sense. Maybe Almora starts next year at AAA, but I could see him still at AA. I'd guess Russell starts in AAA and then it gets interesting.

*I don't even remember who it was, so this is about as unreliable as these things goes.
**This mystery guest said Bryant wasn't coming up for "obvious reasons" which I guess means the Boras stuff (and that the Cubs have announced he's not coming up).
   77. SouthSideRyan Posted: July 23, 2014 at 11:35 AM (#4756229)
That was Mooney who said that. I'll believe Baez is coming up when I see him in the lineup.

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