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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

U.S.S. Mariner: Dave’s 2010 Off-Season Plan

The Moves

Trade Brandon Morrow to Milwaukee for J.J. Hardy.
Trade Jose Lopez, Mark Lowe, and Jason Vargas to Chicago for John Danks.
Sign Nick Johnson to a one year, $9 million contract
Sign Orlando Hudson to a two year, $16 million contract
Sign Ben Sheets to a one year, $7 million contract
Sign Russell Branyan to a one year, $4 million contract…

Giving up four years of Morrow for two years of Hardy is a risk, but it’s a risk the M’s should be willing to take. Young pitchers are full of false hope, so while Morrow may indeed put it together and become a quality starting pitcher, the M’s would be better off building around a shortstop instead. The Brewers have coveted Morrow for years, and they probably won’t get a better arm in return for Hardy. It’s a win-win trade, upgrading the M’s infield while giving the Brewers a pitcher they badly need.

Now, having written all that, perhaps you’ll think it is a little hypocritical that I then immediately suggest swapping an infielder for a pitcher by sending Lopez, Lowe, and Vargas to Chicago for Danks. However, the situations are quite a bit different. Despite his age, Lopez is simply not the kind of player the M’s want to build around for the future, and his value will be maximized in another city. His best skill, power to left field, is in direct conflict with the way Safeco plays. The M’s will get less value from Lopez than just about every other team in baseball, so moving him to an environment that doesn’t clash with his skills is an efficiency maximization decision.

He forgot “give Ken Williams a lobotomy.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 20, 2009 at 03:59 PM | 253 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: October 21, 2009 at 12:25 PM (#3360606)
I'll be honest, I just skimmed Dave's post looking for my name. Another disappointing day for Shooty...
   102. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: October 21, 2009 at 12:46 PM (#3360623)
I'll be honest, I just skimmed Dave's post looking for my name. Another disappointing day for Shooty...


I was addressed in that post. I'm somebody!
   103. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: October 21, 2009 at 12:50 PM (#3360627)
I was addressed in that post. I'm somebody!

Harrumph!

But seriously folks, it's cool of Dave to come here and argue his case.
   104. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 12:54 PM (#3360630)
I could say the same thing about Danks - why trade for a non-elite LHP when I can sign Randy Wolf and keep the second baseman?

Because Wolf is about as durable as a papier mâché umbrella?
   105. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: October 21, 2009 at 01:12 PM (#3360644)
But seriously folks, it's cool of Dave to come here and argue his case.


I agree. I may not agree with everything he sayys about baseball, but I am definitely close to Dave on the Morgan-MGL spectrum.
   106. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 01:18 PM (#3360651)
Sure, maybe Kenny Williams hangs up the phone after saying he wants to keep his pitching rotation in place. That's certainly possible. It's also why I include the following sentence in the introductory paragraph: "As always, the specific players are more just examples of the types of moves I’d like to see the team make."

The ideas are way more the point than the players themselves. During the Bavasi era, the driving point of these posts was to show a better way to build a roster than throwing money at proven veteran starters and guys who knew how to drive in runs. Last year, the point was to show how a team could rebuild without having a firesale by exploiting the low cost of acquiring defense. This year, the point was to show a potential path to pseudo-contention while still focusing on the future, and to show just how hard it is going to be for the M's to actually win more games than they did this year, as I end up with an ~85 win team even after spending $30 million.


If its going to be so hard for the Mariners to win more games next year, why spend the $30 million? Wouldn't it be better to save that money for when the Mariners have effectively rebuilt? Why trade a young guy with upside like Morrow for a win-now player like Hardy just to win 85 games?


I could say the same thing about Danks - why trade for a non-elite LHP when I can sign Randy Wolf and keep the second baseman?


Well...why would you? How often do you see teams trade a league average starter away and replace him with a free agent?

O-Dog made $8 million this year with all the incentives, and he was worth a bit more than that. He's easily worth 2/16, though obviously I'd take him for less than that too. Same deal with Johnson - in these posts, I usually put the number up to what I would pay for a player, and anything less than that is gravy. As for Branyan, he has a herniated disc in his back that he didn't have surgery on and caused him to miss the final two months of the season. I can't see the bidding for him getting too significant given the injury.


Nick Johnson isn't exactly a paragon of health. I don't see how he's getting twice as much as Branyan considering the year each of them had, and the fact that NJ has a much more checkered injury past than Russ.
   107. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: October 21, 2009 at 01:39 PM (#3360669)
If a 25-year-old who is already league average doesn't float your boat, so be it. To MLB teams, that's a valuable property, especially considering the contract and the environment in which he's performed.

He's only a valuable property as long as he can stick at 2B. He's already below-average defensively, and the Mariners have been making noise about making him a first baseman for two years now. If he was a wizard with the glove, suddenly this deal makes a lot more sense. As it stands, not so much.

Let's put it this way - Jose Lopez likely won't be making any All-Star teams. John Danks might be.
   108. toratoratora Posted: October 21, 2009 at 01:41 PM (#3360672)
Kudos to Dave for sticking his head in the Lions den.
I don't agree with all your points ("there should be something in that package that makes you say "hey, neato." being a case in point)but he just gained big cojone points in my book for entering the fray.
   109. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 01:52 PM (#3360684)
Go back and read your first comment, then try to tell me that you were seriously trying to "encourage discussion"

I freely admit to snarkiness. It's teh interwebs. Your trade was completely unrealistic, you call people on that stuff in a not-too-pleasant way all the time. I was just returning the favor.

I didn't ignore anything. You don't just get a player's projected future WAR by taking his total past WAR and dividing by the number of years. Well, apparently, you do. But you shouldn't.

No, I'm not. I never even quoted his 2009 FIP.

Please don't assume I don't know how projections are done. I have neither the tools nor time to run a ZiPs projection on the two players. I was engaging in shorthand.

You are valuing a pitcher who just put up a 138 and 124 ERA+ in 195 and 200 IP at 3-3.5 WAR. The only way to do that is lean heavily on his 2009 component statistics, FIP or otehrwise. Based on Fangraphs WAR, Danks has been worth 5.2 and 2.9 WAR. 3-3.5 seems a rather conservative estimate.

Conversely, you credit Lopez with being a 2-2.5 WAR player, and your $ valuation seems to assume 2.5, when (by Fangraphs again) he's been worth 2.1, 0.1, 2.1 and 2.6 WAR. 2.5 WAR seems rather agressive for Lopez.

You also put a lot of stock in the relative expensiveness of Danks 3 arb years vs Lopez's 2 guaranteed years. But those arb awards are flexible with performance. You talk abot Danks making $15M in 2012, but if that happens, it's b/c he was better than a 3-3.5 WAR pitcher. Using the $15M estimate in a valuation in combination with a conservative performance value is inconsistent analysis.

Even if you go with 3.5 and 2.5, you ignore the ease of finding a 2 WAR 2B vs. the difficulty of finding a 3.5 WAR LH SP. Chi got 1.3 WAR out of the fairly lousy combo of Getz/Nix. Good 2B's are almost always available for <$5M p.a. in FA. Good SP always get >$10M p.a.

Put simply if Danks and Lopez were both FAs, the bidding for Danks would start at 5/60 and go up. Lopez would be lucky, lucky to get 2/10.

Frankly, you presented a fanboyish trade to delight your loyal M's followership, and deserved to get called on it. My response to you was exactly what you would have given a poster who suggested Cano + RP for King Felix.
   110. Gold Star for Robothal Posted: October 21, 2009 at 02:07 PM (#3360701)
Did I misread Dave's reply, or is it the case that (in his view) every single criticism of him is either incorrect or misguided? I like USS Mariner as well, but sometimes they seem like parodies of the larger perception of them. Harvey's pretty spot on w/ the 'regularity of thought' observation.

I was turning Cameron's proposed moves around in my brain last night when I couldn't sleep. I came up with some variations on what I think is a solid plan (I also can't see getting a Danks-esque starter for Lopez):

Three way trade:

Braves receive Jose Lopez
Astros receive Martin Prado & Jason Vargas
Mariners receive Kelly Johnson & Felipe Paulino

Now, I guess this hinges on how much the Astros value Paulino. I think the dude's going to be a breakout next year, especially if he got shipped to Safeco, w/ that outfield D. The only thing in his components that doesn't call out #2 starter to me is his HR rate, and that seems artificially high (both when normalized, and when compared to his minor league record).

Another guy that I think might benefit from Safeco (& great outfield D) would be Yusmeiro Petit of the D-Backs, as a number 4 type starter. In my laziness, I offer up Tuiasosopo for Petit. We keep Lowe as set up man.

I like the Morrow-Hardy deal, and the Sheets & NJ signings. & resigning Branyan and playing Saunders & Moore. I thought about a Morrow for Chris Davis (and like Guillermo Moscoso) type deal, but Hardy is the superior player. Instead of going after O-Dawg, the M's could then re-sign Beltre. I suppose the lineup would be:

RF Ichiro
SS Hardy
CF Gutierrez
1B Branyan
DH N. Johnson
3B A. Beltre
2B K. Johnson
LF M. Saunders
C A. Moore

SP Felix
SP B. Sheets
SP R. Rowland-Smith
SP F. Paulino
SP Y. Petit
   111. The District Attorney Posted: October 21, 2009 at 02:08 PM (#3360704)
I generally find Cameron to be almost intolerably snide. It seems like he tried to rein it in somewhat in his post here, with moderate success. He's certainly ruder than snapper, so he doesn't have a leg to stand on there.

I do agree that Gary Matthews Jr. shouldn't have pinch-hit for Mike Napoli, although I have no idea what that has to do with anything.

I also agree that Jose Lopez is much better than Jayson Nix. Unfortunately, this proves very little because Nix is completely godawful. Plus Getz is probably better than Nix anyway, although he stinks too. Anyway, it would be very easy to improve on these guys without acquiring Lopez. Lopez is what he is, regardless of the current White Sox 2B situation.

I disagree that the proposed Danks trade is something the White Sox would or should at all consider. Which is odd, since Cameron is usually pretty decent about making plausible offers. But not this time.

I wouldn't trade J.J. Hardy for Brandon Morrow, but I guess the Brewers might. They are kind of over a barrel (hey, remember this guy?) with Hardy, and if they happen to like Morrow, then hey. I tend to think it's doubtful, but it is plausible.

I think Nick Johnson probably gets less than $9M/yr and Russ Branyan probably gets more than $4M/yr, but that should about even out, right?

I realize that the WAR salaries look weird because they're trying to simulate the free agent market. My question would be, why do that? Why not base them on the concept that everyone has a $100M salary cap, or something. Not true, of course, but I think it would still distort things a lot less than going by the free agent market, which (as a market) is highly idiosyncratic and irrational.
   112. AROM Posted: October 21, 2009 at 02:19 PM (#3360717)
Put simply if Danks and Lopez were both FAs, the bidding for Danks would start at 5/60 and go up. Lopez would be lucky, lucky to get 2/10.


I agree with Snapper here. I am a lot more confidant about getting average play from a 2B from the free agent market, among guys like Polanco, Kennedy, Felipe Lopez, Hudson, or Freddy Sanchez, than I would be about my ability to pick out the discounted pitcher with an injury history who pitches like Randy Wolf last year.

I could see Hardy for Morrow, if the Brewers really like the guy. I'm not sure it will be the best offer for him though - I see a lot of teams that could really use a shortstop and only 2 of them are going to sign Scutaro and Tejada, assuming somebody doesn't move Tejada over to 3rd base.
   113. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 21, 2009 at 02:21 PM (#3360719)
Pitchers don't improve as they age - as a group, they get worse, thanks to the power of attrition. And there's certainly nothing resembling a normal pitcher aging curve like there is for hitters.


I can certainly agree with the last sentence here, and I would also agree that there's a fair amount of attrition among pitchers (much moreso than hitters, certainly). But do you have a source for the notion that "pitchers don't improve as they age"? Because that seems pretty counter-intuitive to me.
   114. AROM Posted: October 21, 2009 at 02:26 PM (#3360726)
I realize that the WAR salaries look weird because they're trying to simulate the free agent market. My question would be, why do that? Why not base them on the concept that everyone has a $100M salary cap, or something.


Take the fangraphs WAR only for the players that have 6 or more years of experience, and in the aggregate that value should be very close to actual salaries. You'll have more WAR value for salary, of course, for cost controlled young players. I think this is the best way to present it. It gives fans a guideline to estimate what players should get as free agents, and for those younger players, they can't choose their employer so there's not so much hot stove speculation around them anyway.
   115. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: October 21, 2009 at 03:11 PM (#3360792)
Did I misread Dave's reply, or is it the case that (in his view) every single criticism of him is either incorrect or misguided?


In my case, it was about Mike Napoli's production in the latter innings of games. It drops. I said that this might be a problem for catchers. I don't really know and a lot of folks could probably study the issue more easily than me. I was spitballing, as the kids say. Cameron said that Napoli hasn't had enough plate appearances where we can definitely rule out that this is a random fluke. He may have a point. Napoli has less than a season's worth of plate appearances after the seventh inning. I'm not gonna start a jihad over it.
   116. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: October 21, 2009 at 03:23 PM (#3360802)
In my case, it was about Mike Napoli's production in the latter innings of games. It drops. I said that this might be a problem for catchers.

I've had this question, too, that maybe catchers are worn down by the end of the game and their production drops. It would help explain why it's hard for a catcher to maintain production relative to other positions. I'd love to see this study.

edit:A quick check of McCann, Suzuki and Posada didn't indicate a pattern. McCann has a noticeable downward performance in the later innings. Suzuki and Posada are about the same. Could just be this is something that is different for each player the way some pitchers ahve the arm to start and others only have the stamina to relieve.
   117. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 03:31 PM (#3360814)
But seriously folks, it's cool of Dave to come here and argue his case.

Concur. I add my kudos as well.
   118. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: October 21, 2009 at 03:34 PM (#3360820)
Did Dave address the issue of Fly's sponsorship? If I were Dave, I'd have Fly sponsor either Matt Young or Chris Bosio.
   119. Tom Nawrocki Posted: October 21, 2009 at 03:36 PM (#3360826)

I've had this question, too, that maybe catchers are worn down by the end of the game and their production drops.


I wonder if you see the same effect for catchers in the postseason. Both Napoli and Posada have been pretty subpar in the postseason over the course of their careers.
   120. SoSH U at work Posted: October 21, 2009 at 03:39 PM (#3360831)
Did Dave address the issue of Fly's sponsorship? If I were Dave, I 'd have Fly sponsor either Matt Young or Chris Bosio.


He said not to worry about it.
   121. caprules Posted: October 21, 2009 at 03:44 PM (#3360840)
If its going to be so hard for the Mariners to win more games next year, why spend the $30 million?


Because it doesn't look good to your fans if you just give up on a season after having a winning season. If you do that, it's going to be that much harder to win them back once you feel your team is ready to compete.
   122. Gaelan Posted: October 21, 2009 at 03:45 PM (#3360845)
I realize that the WAR salaries look weird because they're trying to simulate the free agent market. My question would be, why do that? Why not base them on the concept that everyone has a $100M salary cap, or something. Not true, of course, but I think it would still distort things a lot less than going by the free agent market, which (as a market) is highly idiosyncratic and irrational.


They are trying to simulate the free agent market because the free agent market is the only market there is. If you need a player and have money the only place you can go is the free agent market. Doing it the way they do it is the only way to do it. Anything else would be meaningless by definition.

Fangraphs has become really, really, good. Did you know that they're WAR data is now downloadable in excel files. It takes two seconds and then you can fiddle with the numbers all you like. Don't like their defensive numbers, insert your own. Think they value WAR weirdly, substitute your own.
   123. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 04:01 PM (#3360875)
I could probably improve the Royals if I had $30 million and the ability to acquire John Danks for Alberto Callaspo
   124. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: October 21, 2009 at 04:07 PM (#3360885)

Fangraphs has become really, really, good. Did you know that they're WAR data is now downloadable in excel files. It takes two seconds and then you can fiddle with the numbers all you like. Don't like their defensive numbers, insert your own. Think they value WAR weirdly, substitute your own.


I'll bet you fiddle with the pitching numbers :).

I think that stats section is David Appelman's baby, but I agree. I did download some pitching stats that I was trying to fool around with the other day. FWIW, I was surprised how few ERA qualifiers there were in the AL. You can get CSV info from bb-ref and you can copy and paste stuff from THT, but Fangraphs makes it easier. One type of pitching stat I wish they had, but they probably can't get are Michael Wolverton's Support Neutral stats.
   125. Jeff K. Posted: October 21, 2009 at 04:30 PM (#3360925)
FWIW, I was surprised how few ERA qualifiers there were in the AL.

31, if I recall the Lounge trivia question from a few weeks back correctly.
   126. Barnaby Jones Posted: October 21, 2009 at 04:53 PM (#3360960)
Braves receive Jose Lopez
Astros receive Martin Prado & Jason Vargas
Mariners receive Kelly Johnson & Felipe Paulino


Why would the Braves do that? Prado is better than Lopez, and cheaper to boot.
   127. David Cameron Posted: October 21, 2009 at 05:46 PM (#3361039)
I'm sorry for not knowing this, but isn't FIP factored in when calculating WAR? If so, then I guess you could argue that your WAR comp between Lopez and Danks is based partially on Danks' poor FIP, no?

It's part of the calculation, certainly, but that's pretty logical, right? Most recent year performance should definitely be part of any projection. That's a much different statement that snapper's simply wrong assumption that the projection was just based on prior year performance.

To be caught between rebuilding and winning, shouldn't you have won something in the previous 8 years?

That could have been phrased better. I'd say the M's are caught between rebuilding or trying to win 2010, with reasons to go in both directions.

As a poinr of fact I have repeatedly complimented your knowledge and understanding of the game. Any search of BBTF will bear that out.

No, I realize that. I've always been bewildered by your comments toward me; complimentary and scornful at the same time. I certainly don't have any memory of what I did to offend you, but for whatever it was, I apologize.

If its going to be so hard for the Mariners to win more games next year, why spend the $30 million? Wouldn't it be better to save that money for when the Mariners have effectively rebuilt? Why trade a young guy with upside like Morrow for a win-now player like Hardy just to win 85 games?

Going from 85 wins to 75 wins intentionally is a very hard sell to a fanbase. It's an even harder sell to Felix Hernandez, who the team has a vested interest in retaining. And, while the team may only be a true talent 85 win club, that still gives them a 10-20% chance of making the playoffs, which comes with a substantial reward. To steal a poker analogy, there's implied odds that suggest that a team with a true talent level over .500 should probably try to add additional marginal wins.

Nick Johnson isn't exactly a paragon of health. I don't see how he's getting twice as much as Branyan considering the year each of them had, and the fact that NJ has a much more checkered injury past than Russ.

Nick Johnson and Milton Bradley are pretty comparable players, I think. Bradley got a 3/30 deal and he's kind of crazy to boot. I don't see that teams hold past injury histories against free agents as much as they do present injuries. Branyan has a herniated disc right now. That's going to be held against him more than Johnson's health problems in 2007 and 2008.

He's only a valuable property as long as he can stick at 2B. He's already below-average defensively, and the Mariners have been making noise about making him a first baseman for two years now. If he was a wizard with the glove, suddenly this deal makes a lot more sense. As it stands, not so much.

I agree that he's below average, but it's worth noting that his career UZR is basically dead on average, as it was this year. He's not in very good shape and he makes a lot of errors, but he's still got enough range to play the position, and there's no real talk of moving him off the position. He played first base down the stretch last year so the M's could look at Luis Valbuena, and he played some first base this year when Wak wanted to put his all-defense team on the field, but the M's have stated flat out that Lopez isn't moving to first base.

Let's put it this way - Jose Lopez likely won't be making any All-Star teams. John Danks might be.

Jose Lopez also won't be having labrum surgery. John Danks might be. Value is both risk and reward.

<en>Please don't assume I don't know how projections are done. I have neither the tools nor time to run a ZiPs projection on the two players. I was engaging in shorthand.</em>

To be blunt, your shorthand isn't very accurate.

Put simply if Danks and Lopez were both FAs, the bidding for Danks would start at 5/60 and go up. Lopez would be lucky, lucky to get 2/10.

This is a pretty indefensible statement. You're valuing Lopez as a +1 win player. There's not a reliable projection system on earth that would spit out anything close to these numbers. This is the kind of statement that makes it pretty hard to take your valuations seriously.

I realize that the WAR salaries look weird because they're trying to simulate the free agent market. My question would be, why do that?

This is how we relate to value in pretty much every walk of life. A gallon of milk is as valuable as the cost of buying another one at the store. If your milk spoils, you feel a $3 loss, because it can be replaced by spending $3 on a new gallon of milk. Same idea here - Chone Figgins isn't a $20+ million player, but if the Angels want to replace the value he gave them in 2009, they'd have to spend $20+ million to get an expected equal level of production.

I am a lot more confidant about getting average play from a 2B from the free agent market, among guys like Polanco, Kennedy, Felipe Lopez, Hudson, or Freddy Sanchez, than I would be about my ability to pick out the discounted pitcher with an injury history who pitches like Randy Wolf last year.

I would argue that a lot of teams are not in the position to make that decision, specifically due to the cost of signing those players and their expectation of future value beyond 2010. For next year, you might argue that Polanco is equally valuable, but the age gap certainly shifts future value towards Lopez, and teams that are looking beyond just next year will account for this.

I think that stats section is David Appelman's baby, but I agree.

FanGraphs is David Appelman's site, and he should get nearly all of the credit for it. I just work for him.
   128. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: October 21, 2009 at 05:53 PM (#3361046)
I agree that he's below average, but it's worth noting that his career UZR is basically dead on average, as it was this year. He's not in very good shape and he makes a lot of errors, but he's still got enough range to play the position, and there's no real talk of moving him off the position.

He just strikes me as too similar to Juan Uribe, without Uribe's initial defensive skills.

What it boils down to for me is that the White Sox already have a handful of guys with Lopez's skillset - good power, inability to draw walks, liability with the glove. They don't need more guys like that, and certainly not enough to justify trading away a starting pitcher. Maybe the Mariners can shop him to Brian Sabean.
   129. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 05:57 PM (#3361050)
"Why would the Braves do that? Prado is better than Lopez, and cheaper to boot."

Yeah, it seems like the Braves are giving up the best two 2B in that deal...
   130. RJ in TO Posted: October 21, 2009 at 05:58 PM (#3361055)
Put simply if Danks and Lopez were both FAs, the bidding for Danks would start at 5/60 and go up. Lopez would be lucky, lucky to get 2/10.

This is a pretty indefensible statement. You're valuing Lopez as a +1 win player. There's not a reliable projection system on earth that would spit out anything close to these numbers. This is the kind of statement that makes it pretty hard to take your valuations seriously.


I haven't exactly looked into this myself but, based on the free agent markets of the past couple years, haven't the rates at which teams have been willing to pay per win differed fairly significantly between starting pitchers and second basemen? The only second baseman who I can think of that really landed a huge deal for himself is Chase Utley, whereas there seems to be a bidding war over almost every starting pitcher capable of reliably making it through a season without suffering a debilitating injury.

EDIT: In other words, while Lopez may technically be worth $10M a season on the free agent market, based on some leaguewide average for pay-rate per win, teams have (for whatever reason) determined that they're not interested to pay more than half of league average pay-rate per win for 2B.
   131. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: October 21, 2009 at 06:03 PM (#3361061)
What it boils down to for me is that the White Sox already have a handful of guys with Lopez's skillset - good power, inability to draw walks, liability with the glove. They don't need more guys like that, and certainly not enough to justify trading away a starting pitcher.

But Comiskey would automatically make him better!
   132. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: October 21, 2009 at 06:08 PM (#3361069)
But Comiskey would automatically make him better!

I know you're kidding here, but I don't know if Comiskey actually would make him much better, particularly if (as suggested above) his HR rate wouldn't improve. Lopez also hits lots of doubles, and while Seattle actually slightly helps doubles hitters, Comiskey significantly hurts them.

The benefit to hitting in Comiskey is overblown. Yes, there are more home runs hit there, but overall it's really just a slight hitters' park.
   133. DL from MN Posted: October 21, 2009 at 06:13 PM (#3361075)
Brian Roberts got a big deal at 2B but yes, typically 2B don't rate much in free agency. Part of this is age/injury related. The well-known decline of second basemen in their early thirties combined with the high likelihood that a 2nd baseman won't reach free agency until ages 30-32 conspire against 2B salaries to keep them low.

Plus, Dan R's WAR disagrees with AROM's WAR about 2B replacement value with Dan R's method based on worst regulars showing it about 1 win higher than AROMs. I don't mean to make this a fight about replacement value but the salaries paid show that major league executives feel 2B replacement level is higher than the replacement value of a pitcher. If perceived value doesn't match actual that's all well and good but it won't get a trade made.
   134. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 06:22 PM (#3361083)
Put simply if Danks and Lopez were both FAs, the bidding for Danks would start at 5/60 and go up. Lopez would be lucky, lucky to get 2/10.

This is a pretty indefensible statement. You're valuing Lopez as a +1 win player. There's not a reliable projection system on earth that would spit out anything close to these numbers. This is the kind of statement that makes it pretty hard to take your valuations seriously.


It's completely defensible.

Orlando Hudson got 1 yr./$3.4M, he's been a 2.0-3.0 WAR player. Mark Ellis got 2 yrs./$11M after years of being a ~3.0 WAR player. That's why I say he'd be lucky to get 2/10.

Adam Kennedy was freely available for league minimum, he has been a ~1.0 WAR player. If I were valuing J Lopez as a 1.0 WAR player, he'd be getting ~$1M p.a.

On the SP side Ollie Perez got 3/36. Kyle Lohse got 4/41. Derek Lowe got 4/60. You can't tell me Danks doesn't beat those deals.

The real life valuation of players reflects scarcity factors beyond a simple WAR calculation.
   135. Gaelan Posted: October 21, 2009 at 06:25 PM (#3361086)
I'll bet you fiddle with the pitching numbers :).


I sure have. I calculated my own Defense dependent WAR by calculating a pitcher woba using component stats. I don't understand why they don't do that. I get that ERA isn't very useful but it seems to me that if the value of WAR is to put pitchers and hitters on the same scale then not only must the unit of measurement be the same but the input into that unit should be the same too.

Dave might not agree with me that is the right way to do it. Nonetheless it would have been impossible for me to do it without his explanation of where their number came from. For that I am thankful.
   136. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 06:33 PM (#3361091)
I haven't exactly looked into this myself but, based on the free agent markets of the past couple years, haven't the rates at which teams have been willing to pay per win differed fairly significantly between starting pitchers and second basemen? The only second baseman who I can think of that really landed a huge deal for himself is Chase Utley, whereas there seems to be a bidding war over almost every starting pitcher capable of reliably making it through a season without suffering a debilitating injury.

EDIT: In other words, while Lopez may technically be worth $10M a season on the free agent market, based on some leaguewide average for pay-rate per win, teams have (for whatever reason) determined that they're not interested to pay more than half of league average pay-rate per win for 2B.


Exactly right.

I think this is what bothers me most about the proposals. Dave seems to be using WAR as a means of valuing everything. Which is great for comparing players. But other GMs don't use WAR to value players. Maybe by WAR, Jose Lopez is as valuable as Jon Danks. But I guarantee you Ken Williams doesn't see it that way. And other GMs aren't going to see it that way. They also aren't going to look at Nick Johnson and Russ Branyan and conclude NJ gets $9 million and Branyan gets $4 million.

I think WAR has a lot of practical use and I use it a lot. I think the dollar valuation fangraphs has is useful (albeit with flaws). Its a great way to value what a player has done. But I don't think its a useful tool at all in predicting market value for future player contracts. Branyan will almost certainly get a two year deal, probably worth $10 million or so, NJ will probably get a decent one year deal $6-8 million with incentives and a nice option and I wouldn't at all be surprised to see someone guarantee him two years. WAR is great, but when you have idiot GMs like Dayton Moore and Omar Minaya helping set the market, WAR isn't a very good predictive tool for free agent contracts.
   137. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 21, 2009 at 06:36 PM (#3361095)
It's completely defensible.

Orlando Hudson got 1 yr./$3.4M, he's been a 2.0-3.0 WAR player. Mark Ellis got 2 yrs./$11M after years of being a ~3.0 WAR player. That's why I say he'd be lucky to get 2/10.


To be fair (I'm generally on your side in the Lopez-Danks debate, snapper), DL in #133 raises a good point that older second basemen are significant age/injury risks. Since Lopez is only 26 next season, some team might be willing to offer him more money and/or more years than they might be inclined to to offer a 30-year-old second baseman, even with the same mean projection. For positions where aging is a big issue - 2B and C being the two obvious ones to me - the fact that there are no young free agents may limit the value of simply looking at what free-agent second basemen get on the open market and concluding that this is comparable to what second basemen in their mid-20s might get in a truly free market.
   138. David Cameron Posted: October 21, 2009 at 06:39 PM (#3361100)
I haven't exactly looked into this myself but, based on the free agent markets of the past couple years, haven't the rates at which teams have been willing to pay per win differed fairly significantly between starting pitchers and second basemen?

The fact that there's a market inefficiency doesn't alter the value of a player. Beyond that, though, no, there have not been any players like Lopez who have hit the market and been shunned by teams. There are old second baseman who teams have underpaid, or defensive specialists who teams have underpaid, but considering that Lopez is not old or a defensive specialist, their examples are not particularly relevant.

I know you're kidding here, but I don't know if Comiskey actually would make him much better, particularly if (as suggested above) his HR rate wouldn't improve. Lopez also hits lots of doubles, and while Seattle actually slightly helps doubles hitters, Comiskey significantly hurts them.

Safeco doesn't help right-handed batters do anything except make outs. It's literally the hardest park in the planet for a RH pull hitter, which Lopez is an extreme version of. He'd improve by going to any other park. Going to a park where flyballs carry out to left is just a bonus for him.

Orlando Hudson got 1 yr./$3.4M, he's been a 2.0-3.0 WAR player.

No, he got 1/8M. $3.4 was guaranteed, but the other $4.6 million in incentives were reached fairly easily. This kind of falls into the same category of you forgetting that the White Sox had Jake Peavy. These are factual problems with your argument that make it tough to take your conclusions seriously.

Mark Ellis got 2 yrs./$11M after years of being a ~3.0 WAR player.

Mark Ellis gets a huge majority of his value from defense. Defense is undervalued. This is not news, nor is it relevant to Lopez's value.

On the SP side Ollie Perez got 3/36. Kyle Lohse got 4/41. Derek Lowe got 4/60. You can't tell me Danks doesn't beat those deals.

Randy Wolf got 1/8. Andy Pettitte got 1/5.5. Brad Penny got 1/5. We can cherry pick whatever we want to support a preconceived idea. That's not analysis.
   139. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: October 21, 2009 at 06:41 PM (#3361103)
I'm enjoying this thread because snapper and I are in agreement. I knew it would happen one day, snapper. I think it's clear not one of us would make the proposed deal for Danks which makes Dave either an inconoclast (on this particular made up trade) or just wrong. The interesting idea is that starting pitchers are overrated and overpaid now. What do you all think of that?

edit: And if we are overvaluing SP, then Dave's proposal isn't as nuts as it seems to us at first blush.
   140. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: October 21, 2009 at 06:45 PM (#3361106)
Randy Wolf got 1/8. Andy Pettitte got 1/5.5. Brad Penny got 1/5. We can cherry pick whatever we want to support a preconceived idea. That's not analysis.

John Danks is neither old nor injury-prone, so comparing his potential salary to that of these guys doesn't make much sense.
   141. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 06:45 PM (#3361107)
There are old second baseman who teams have underpaid, or defensive specialists who teams have underpaid, but considering that Lopez is not old or a defensive specialist, their examples are not particularly relevant.


Randy Wolf got 1/8. Andy Pettitte got 1/5.5. Brad Penny got 1/5. We can cherry pick whatever we want to support a preconceived idea. That's not analysis.



Um, aren't you cherry-picking to support a preconceived idea?
   142. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 06:51 PM (#3361115)
We can cherry pick whatever we want to support a preconceived idea. That's not analysis.

I feel that this deserves repeating, given the oracle of everything right and true that is saying it.
   143. JJ1986 Posted: October 21, 2009 at 06:54 PM (#3361118)
Dave, what do you think Danks and Lopez would get if they were both first time free agents this winter?

Even if it's far closer than 5/60 and 2/10, it's not going to be anywhere near equal. Danks would be, at worst, the second best starter on the market, he'd get a five year deal averaging over 10 a year.
   144. Mike Emeigh Posted: October 21, 2009 at 06:56 PM (#3361120)
Doug Melvin may "love" Brandon Morrow, and might feel that he HAS to trade JJ Hardy (which I'm still not buying), but it doesn't mean he's going to accept less than full value for Hardy. I took a look at his trade history through 2008 (available here) and I didn't see any Melvin trades that looked remotely like what Morrow for Hardy would look like today, when you consider how the player(s) involved were viewed at the time. I suspect that if Zduriencik offers that trade, no matter how much he likes Morrow, Melvin's response will be "And what else are we getting?"

-- MWE
   145. stealfirstbase Posted: October 21, 2009 at 06:57 PM (#3361123)
I have to say, my favorite Dave Cameron quote comes from the 2004 Freddy Garcia trade. When told of the trade, Dave Cameron apparently responded "JEREMY REED! JEREMY REED!" At least, that's how I remember it. I can't find the exact quote on USSM.

It's sort of the classic gold standard of prospect overvaluation.
   146. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:05 PM (#3361138)
Andy Pettitte got 1/5.5. Brad Penny got 1/5.

Gee, you forgot Pettitte's $3.75M in incentives ($3M of which he earned), Penny's $2M ($1M of which he earned).

Should I make a snarky remark about factual problems and not taking your conclusions seriously?

Ellis was about a -5 RAA hitter prior to his contract, Lopez about a 0 RAA. The offensive difference is not great, and Ellis is a better player. Likewise Hudson is a better player than Lopez. I don't think age matters much on 1-2 year deals.

The fact that there's a market inefficiency doesn't alter the value of a player.

The fact that your system says there is a market inefficiency does not make it so. The replacement level for 2B or SP may well be different from what you assume, and GMs may know this.

Alternatively, if 2Bs are undervalued in the market, and SPs overvalued, why should K Wiiliams trade his overvalued asset for an undervalued one at a fair exchange rate? Shouldn't he just sell high on his SP to fill other needs and buy an undervalued 2B in the FA market?

It makes no sense either way.

There are old second baseman who teams have underpaid, or defensive specialists who teams have underpaid, but considering that Lopez is not old or a defensive specialist, their examples are not particularly relevant.

And very good 24 yr. old LH SPs are very different from the SPs that reach the market. So, we'd expect Danks to get way more than Pepez/Lowe/Pettitte/Wolf etc.
   147. AROM Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:05 PM (#3361139)
Let's say you're the GM of a team. John Danks is somehow a free agent due to an waiver screwup. Your owner says that you can sign either Danks or A.J. Burnett to a 5 year contract. Cost is not an issue as the owner tells you that he will pay for whatever each costs, and if there's a difference it will not affect your budget for other players. But you can only sign one. So, considering age and performance:

Which pitcher do you choose?
   148. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:12 PM (#3361156)
It's sort of the classic gold standard of prospect overvaluation.

June 27, 2004: Traded by the Seattle Mariners with Ben Davis to the Chicago White Sox for Mike Morse, Miguel Olivo and Jeremy Reed.

December 6, 2006: Traded by the Chicago White Sox to the Philadelphia Phillies for Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez.


The White Sox got Garcia for the pro-rated MLB minimum this year (he gave them 9 starts at a 108 ERA+), and just picked up his $1 million option for 2010.
   149. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:14 PM (#3361159)
Let's say you're the GM of a team. John Danks is somehow a free agent due to an waiver screwup. Your owner says that you can sign either Danks or A.J. Burnett to a 5 year contract. Cost is not an issue as the owner tells you that he will pay for whatever each costs, and if there's a difference it will not affect your budget for other players. But you can only sign one. So, considering age and performance:

Which pitcher do you choose?


I don't see how you don't choose Danks. The two pitchers are indistinguishable the last two years - 8.1 WAR for Danks (2.9 in '09), 8.6 WAR for Burnett (3.1 for '09) - and Danks is 8 years younger.
   150. David Cameron Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:16 PM (#3361164)
And if we are overvaluing SP, then Dave's proposal isn't as nuts as it seems to us at first blush.

That's my stance, yes. The labels of Danks as a "young ace" and Lopez as an "uninteresting low-OBP slob" don't match the reality of their expected values going forward, thanks mainly to differences in risk and cost that are lost in generalizations about player types.

Um, aren't you cherry-picking to support a preconceived idea?

That was exactly the point. I was illustrating why picking three contracts out of the air to determine a baseline doesn't work.

Dave, what do you think Danks and Lopez would get if they were both first time free agents this winter?

I'd want to do more work on this before being held to exact numbers, but ballparking it, 4/36 for Lopez and 4/56 for Danks.

I suspect that if Zduriencik offers that trade, no matter how much he likes Morrow, Melvin's response will be "And what else are we getting?"

I have a lot of reasons to believe that this isn't true.

When told of the trade, Dave Cameron apparently responded "JEREMY REED! JEREMY REED!" At least, that's how I remember it. I can't find the exact quote on USSM.

It's sort of the classic gold standard of prospect overvaluation.


If I can change gears for a second, I'd like to just point out that these kind of incorrect perpetuating stories about past comments is remarkably common around here. And rather annoying, honestly. I have no problem being wrong about things I said. It's entirely another story to have to continually fight off scorn for things I didn't say.

In reality, I was one of the people trying to reel in the sabermetric community's fondness for Reed as a prospect. His big year was the year I spent at BP, and I moved hell and high water to convince them not to make him their #1 prospect. I continually compared him to guys like Mark Kotsay. When he came up in September and hit .400 in a small sample, I then spent several months trying to convince the Mariner fans not to get too excited, because he still lacked power and wasn't ready to be an impact major league player.

The Freddy Garcia trade was a really good one for the Mariners in concept. Reed, Olivo, and Morse for a rental of a guy that you shouldn't have wanted to re-sign was good value. And I did underestimate Jon Lester in the unfortunate Reed-Lester conversation later. But I was never a Jeremy Reed fanboy. If you want to pick out things I've written that haven't turned out to be true, there are lots of them. But let's not invent new ones just because we can.
   151. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:21 PM (#3361179)
Let's say you're the GM of a team. John Danks is somehow a free agent due to an waiver screwup. Your owner says that you can sign either Danks or A.J. Burnett to a 5 year contract. Cost is not an issue as the owner tells you that he will pay for whatever each costs, and if there's a difference it will not affect your budget for other players. But you can only sign one. So, considering age and performance:

Which pitcher do you choose?


Danks in a heartbeat.
   152. Gaelan Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:23 PM (#3361185)
That's a hard one. I don't think either is likely to improve so you're paying for what they are. And what they are is similar pitchers in value (at a glance--I didn't check). My first cut is that Burnett will walk more guys and give up fewer homeruns and so I'll say it depends on my park. My second cut is to wonder whether Burnett's walks are non-random and hence don't hurt as much in which case I'll say Burnett. My third cut is that Burnett's ceiling is higher and all else being equal I'll go with ceiling over consistency.

So, I take Burnett.
   153. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:23 PM (#3361187)
That's my stance, yes. The labels of Danks as a "young ace" and Lopez as an "uninteresting low-OBP slob" don't match the reality of their expected values going forward, thanks mainly to differences in risk and cost that are lost in generalizations about player types.

This is actually intriguing. I wonder what the best way to attack this question would be. How should teams properly value the risk of having expensive pitching vs. the risk of not having expensive pitching?
   154. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:24 PM (#3361190)
ballparking it, 4/36 for Lopez and 4/56 for Danks.

Those numbers look about right for Danks, but I can't imagine paying $9 million/year for four years for Jose Lopez. There must be something there that I'm missing.
   155. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:24 PM (#3361191)

That was exactly the point. I was illustrating why picking three contracts out of the air to determine a baseline doesn't work.


It didn't strike me that those comparisons were that far off. Why do you think Oliver Perez, Kyle Lohse and Derek Lowe are bad comparisons? If anything, the comparison is weak only because those players are significantly older. Danks would probably get even more because of his young age. Your rebuttal seems to be "hey, I'll counter your examples that I think are bad by showing three other examples that are bad" - that's not analysis either.


I'd want to do more work on this before being held to exact numbers, but ballparking it, 4/36 for Lopez and 4/56 for Danks.


I'm willing to be wrong about this, but Lopez seems like a poor man's Brandon Phillips, and Phillips signed a 4/27 deal. I guess 4/36 is reasonable if you assume Dayton Moore and his fetish for low OBAs and ex-Mariners is still a GM.
   156. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:25 PM (#3361194)
This is actually intriguing. I wonder what the best way to attack this question would be. How should teams properly value the risk of having expensive pitching vs. the risk of not having expensive pitching?

But Danks isn't expensive. Even if he gets expensive in arb, the risk is limited by the one year contract.
   157. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:28 PM (#3361198)
My third cut is that Burnett's ceiling is higher and all else being equal I'll go with ceiling over consistency.


Burnett's 32 years old. At what point do you stop worrying about ceilings and just accept a pitcher for what he is? Because Burnett's best season to date, 2008 (5.5 WAR), is indistinguishable from Danks's best season to date (5.2 WAR also in 2008), and if I'm betting on somebody posting a career-best season some time in the next 5 years, I'm betting a hell of a lot more on the guy who'll be ages 25 - 29 those five years than the guy who'll be 33 - 37.
   158. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:30 PM (#3361202)
Those numbers look about right for Danks, but I can't imagine paying $9 million/year for four years for Jose Lopez. There must be something there that I'm missing.

I don't think you're missing anything. No one pays $9M a year for 2Bs unless there in the Utley/Pedroia/Cano category. Average 2Bs are not valued highly in baseball. Even if Lopez is worth it, I highly doubt he gets it. And if even he is worth it, there's no reason to pay that price for him (in money or talent) when the market price is much lower.
   159. Gaelan Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:32 PM (#3361207)
Well, I agree with Dave that neither is going to improve because pitchers don't really improve with age. That said if an improvement is going to come where would it happen. I think it is far more likely that Burnett lower his walk rate than Danks raise his strikeout rate.

Regardless, what I meant by ceiling was in the sense of dominating. If Burnett has a bad day those walks pile up and he gives up runs. However on a good day, when he's not walking anyone, he can reach a level that Danks can't. All else being equal I'll take that kind of ceiling.
   160. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:36 PM (#3361216)
Well, I agree with Dave that neither is going to improve because pitchers don't really improve with age.

They may not improve predictably, like hitters, but it doesn't mean that many of them don't improve. Also, there are many more flameouts that affect the population average, so I'd guess the "survivors" do improve through their mid-20's. Of those that do improve, I'm sure far more do it between 24 and 29, than between 32 and 37.
   161. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:40 PM (#3361229)
I agree with Dave that neither is going to improve because pitchers don't really improve with age.


But with Burnett, it's a matter of whether he can maintain it until he's 37. At some point, there's an aging curve with pitchers, even the ones who pitch into their 40s. Even if you think 24 and 32 are indistinguishable (which I don't), what about 29 and 37? At some point, 8 years make a difference, and I'm betting that point is within the next five years.
   162. David Cameron Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:42 PM (#3361238)
I'm willing to be wrong about this, but Lopez seems like a poor man's Brandon Phillips, and Phillips signed a 4/27 deal. I guess 4/36 is reasonable if you assume Dayton Moore and his fetish for low OBAs and ex-Mariners is still a GM.

Phillips signed for 4/27 when he was three years from free agency. In other words, the Reds valued him significantly higher than that, but they got a deal because they were buying out arbitration years. If there's a case to be made that Lopez isn't worth 4/36, Phillips certainly doesn't support it.

But Danks isn't expensive. Even if he gets expensive in arb, the risk is limited by the one year contract.

The risk with Danks isn't just the cost, but the total loss of him as an asset. Every pitcher has a significant chance of atrophy that has to be factored into the projection. With Lopez, there's far less risk that he just doesn't take the field.

No one pays $9M a year for 2Bs unless there in the Utley/Pedroia/Cano category.

Luis Castillo, at age 33, can get 4/24, but Jose Lopez getting 4/36 as a 25-year-old is unfathomable to you? Come on.
   163. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:47 PM (#3361249)
Luis Castillo, at age 33, can get 4/24, but Jose Lopez getting 4/36 as a 25-year-old is unfathomable to you? Come on.

I think it's unfathomable, especially since the Mets are a laughingstock for that Castillo contract. Lopez, when he hits free agency, is going to be one of those guys who wanders from team to team. Good enough to play if you have a hole on your roster, but not so good you want to commit to him in case something better comes along. I mean, you'll sleep with him, but you aren't going to keep a toothbrush at his apartment.
   164. Kiko Sakata Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:52 PM (#3361258)
I think it's unfathomable, especially since the Mets are a laughingstock for that Castillo contract.


But isn't the issue that they gave that contract to a guy who's well past him prime? I think it's a fair point to think that most free-agent contracts for 2B are discounted heavily to reflect the risk of over-30 2Bs falling off a cliff. But Lopez is well under 30. The problem is that averageish middle infielders just don't reach free agency in their mid-20s, so there really aren't any fair real-world comps. (nor, of course, do above-average 24-year-old starting pitchers)
   165. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:52 PM (#3361259)
Luis Castillo, at age 33, can get 4/24, but Jose Lopez getting 4/36 as a 25-year-old is unfathomable to you? Come on.

Isn't that uniformly considered a horrible signing? And wasn't it considered so at the time? Could it happen, sure, someone traded for Yuniesky Betancourt. But someone might also offer Danks 6/100.

Any particular reason you chose to respond to this post and not my other one?

I'd particularly like your response to this part.

The fact that there's a market inefficiency doesn't alter the value of a player.

The fact that your system says there is a market inefficiency does not make it so. The replacement level for 2B or SP may well be different from what you assume, and GMs may know this.

Alternatively, if 2Bs are undervalued in the market, and SPs overvalued, why should K Wiiliams trade his overvalued asset for an undervalued one at a fair exchange rate? Shouldn't he just sell high on his SP to fill other needs and buy an undervalued 2B in the FA market?

It makes no sense either way.


And an acknowledgement that you bashed me on my mistake on Hudson's contract and then made the exact same mistake on Pettitte would be nice. Not asking for an apology, just an acknowledgment that an occasional factual error doesn't brand someone an idiot.
   166. David Cameron Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:52 PM (#3361261)
I think it's unfathomable, especially since the Mets are a laughingstock for that Castillo contract.

And a laughingstock for the Perez contract. We can't use bad contracts to set market value for Danks and then say "no one pays anything for second baseman, at least as long as we ignore all the times they did."

Lopez, when he hits free agency, is going to be one of those guys who wanders from team to team.

Run a list of position players who are league average at 25 and you will see that this is not the norm. You either don't think Lopez is league average, or you have an incorrect view of how this type of player ages.
   167. David Cameron Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:57 PM (#3361268)
And an acknowledgement that you bashed me on my mistake on Hudson's contract and then made the exact same mistake on Pettitte would be nice.

I was making a subtle point about contracts that was, in retrospect, too subtle and not very easily noticed. Didn't want to bother explaining it.
   168. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: October 21, 2009 at 07:57 PM (#3361269)
Boy, I love discussions like this, for the entertainment value. I generally agree with snapper's side here, but neither side is covering itself with glory. One side fails to mention incentives and the counters with examples which, lo and behold, fails to mention incentives. One side produces examples of FA seniority players making a relatively low salary to bolster a point, and the other side retorts that the low contract is partially a result of it buying out arb years, and provides a counter-example which is a huge outlier offered by a notorious dysfunctional organization. Can anyone provide straight evidence, or is the goal only to win the debate at any cost?
   169. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 08:00 PM (#3361272)
Phillips signed for 4/27 when he was three years from free agency. In other words, the Reds valued him significantly higher than that, but they got a deal because they were buying out arbitration years. If there's a case to be made that Lopez isn't worth 4/36, Phillips certainly doesn't support it.

I don't think its a perfect comp, but it does give us a bit of a guide. Sure, Phillips took a discount to buy some stability. He's also much better than Lopez and signed before the 2008 season, before teams started being more stingy.
   170. Zipperholes Posted: October 21, 2009 at 08:03 PM (#3361276)
WAR ... is great for comparing players. But other GMs don't use WAR to value players. Maybe by WAR, Jose Lopez is as valuable as Jon Danks. But I guarantee you Ken Williams doesn't see it that way. And other GMs aren't going to see it that way.

I think WAR has a lot of practical use and I use it a lot. I think the dollar valuation fangraphs has is useful (albeit with flaws)... WAR is great, but when you have idiot GMs like Dayton Moore and Omar Minaya helping set the market, WAR isn't a very good predictive tool for free agent contracts.


I just wanted to repeat this because it hits the nail on the head. Every one of these blogs (not necessarily USSM) that have fallen in love with WAR because it conveniently reduces every player to a neat number should post the above text at the top. There are so many things that go into a player's "value" in the market that WAR ignores, that it should be used only as a starting point.
   171. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: October 21, 2009 at 08:10 PM (#3361287)
I sure have. I calculated my own Defense dependent WAR by calculating a pitcher woba using component stats. I don't understand why they don't do that. I get that ERA isn't very useful but it seems to me that if the value of WAR is to put pitchers and hitters on the same scale then not only must the unit of measurement be the same but the input into that unit should be the same too.


Interesting. Is there anyplace that where doubles and triples against a pitcher are available? I imagine you have to guesstimate this portion of it. I have some issues with component stats not taking the base-out situation int consideration, but I'm intrigued by this way to skin a cat.
   172. stealfirstbase Posted: October 21, 2009 at 08:10 PM (#3361289)
Apologies, David. I searched through the USSM archives, and it was in fact "DMZ" who had the irrational exuberance over Jeremy Reed. Still hilarious, though, even if it doesn't directly concern you.
   173. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: October 21, 2009 at 08:12 PM (#3361293)
You either don't think Lopez is league average, or you have an incorrect view of how this type of player ages.

I don't think he's going to get better with the glove and I don't think his walk rate will improve, no. Danks probably won't strike out more guys, but he could give up fewer walks and HR's, as he did in 2008, and go back to be a near star. Neither one of us know for sure how it will play out. What I do know, is that MLB teams throw a lot more money at the Jon Danks' of their world than the Jose Lopez'. The idea that this is wrongheaded is interesting, though.
   174. RJ in TO Posted: October 21, 2009 at 08:13 PM (#3361296)
IS there anyplace that where doubles and triples against a pitcher are available?


B-R has all that data available. Just go to league pitching, and then select "batting against." I'm not sure if it's packaged in a readily downloadable format, however, although there's nothing stopping you from a Cut & Paste.
   175. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 08:15 PM (#3361302)
Can anyone provide straight evidence, or is the goal only to win the debate at any cost?

Sorry for any inaccuracies on my part. I'm doing this in between working, and it's probably the outliers that stick in my head.

In any case, I stand by my point that in a free agent situation Danks gets at least twice the annual salary, and at least twice the number of years than Lopez. He is a much more valuable commodity in the MLB marketplace, even if their "true values" are closer than that (which I don't necessarily concede, but will admit for the sake of argument.

If I'm sitting with 100 shares of FaceBook market price $100, and you have 100 shares of JPMorgan, market price $25,
and I know with perfect foresight that both will return exactly $50 (PV) worth of dividends in the future, I still don't trade my FaceBook stock for your JPMorgan stock. I sell the overpriced asset and the market price, and buy the underpriced asset at the market price. Dave is asking the CWS to make the swap straight up (if his valuation is correct).
   176. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 08:17 PM (#3361304)
And an acknowledgement that you bashed me on my mistake on Hudson's contract and then made the exact same mistake on Pettitte would be nice.

I was making a subtle point about contracts that was, in retrospect, too subtle and not very easily noticed. Didn't want to bother explaining it.


So no acknowledgement.
   177. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: October 21, 2009 at 08:25 PM (#3361319)
If I'm sitting with 100 shares of FaceBook market price $100, and you have 100 shares of JPMorgan, market price $25,
and I know with perfect foresight that both will return exactly $50 (PV) worth of dividends in the future, I still don't trade my FaceBook stock for your JPMorgan stock. I sell the overpriced asset and the market price, and buy the underpriced asset at the market price. Dave is asking the CWS to make the swap straight up (if his valuation is correct).


I agree completely. I don't buy the argument that they are equally valuable (baseball talent wise). But even if they were, the fact that Danks would fetch more in a trade is reason enough not to trade him for Lopez.
   178. AROM Posted: October 21, 2009 at 08:40 PM (#3361348)
I'm willing to be wrong about this, but Lopez seems like a poor man's Brandon Phillips, and Phillips signed a 4/27 deal. I guess 4/36 is reasonable if you assume Dayton Moore and his fetish for low OBAs and ex-Mariners is still a GM.


Too many variables make Phillips not a good comp. They are both OBP-challenged 2B with some power, but Phillips has a lot more speed and defensive value. But his pre free agency discounted contract doesn't give us a guideline for what Lopez's free agent value would be.

Giving Lopez 36/4 would be an overpay just like giving 24/4 to Castillo. As would confusing Danks with 2006 Barry Zito and giving him 117 million or whatever it was.

So far 2-1 voting on Danks over Burnett.
   179. AROM Posted: October 21, 2009 at 08:44 PM (#3361356)
I don't buy the argument that they are equally valuable (baseball talent wise).


There really isn't one, at least supported by any objective analysis. If you go by fangraphs, Danks is worth 2.9 per year as a regular, including his awful rookie year. Lopez averages 1.7 WAR the last 4 years as a regular.

You'd have to think Lopez was likely to improve greatly while Danks would not (interesting case for a guy who wants to trade Lopez to make) or that Mark Lowe is good enough to make up the difference.
   180. DL from MN Posted: October 21, 2009 at 08:45 PM (#3361359)
> Andy Pettitte got 1/5.5. Brad Penny got 1/5

As someone else pointed out they actually earned more than that. Pettitte artificially lowered his market value by only negotiating with one team and Brad Penny sucks.

Another thing to consider in any trade is that just evening out WAR makes no sense to anyone. The idea of a good trade is to have marginal gains by swapping out excess talent to fill a hole. Jose Lopez for John Danks may be a wash when it comes to leaguewide replacement (I wouldn't argue that point, just playing devil's advocate) but when it comes to replacement value strictly for the White Sox they gain 1 win above Getz and lose 4 to their 6th starter.

Offseason planning where you mention specific trades is rather silly. The best way to approach is to note the excess and the holes and tell several ways to sort them out. Getting into specific details is folly.

And like I said before the Twins are getting JJ Hardy so you'll have to look elsewhere.
   181. Dewey, Soupuss Not Doomed to Succeed Posted: October 21, 2009 at 08:48 PM (#3361362)
I'd take Danks over Burnett myself, but I like Danks quite a bit. I think he'll be a very good pitcher for a long time.
   182. David Cameron Posted: October 21, 2009 at 08:52 PM (#3361372)
I don't buy the argument that they are equally valuable.

Again, no one is making that argument.

That's enough strawman repudiation for me for today.
   183. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 08:54 PM (#3361376)
"Lopez, when he hits free agency, is going to be one of those guys who wanders from team to team. Good enough to play if you have a hole on your roster, but not so good you want to commit to him in case something better comes along. I mean, you'll sleep with him, but you aren't going to keep a toothbrush at his apartment."

In other words, he's going to have Ron Belliard's career?

I could see that.
   184. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: October 21, 2009 at 09:00 PM (#3361388)
I don't buy the argument that they are equally valuable.
Again, no one is making that argument.

That's enough strawman repudiation for me for today.


Dave, would you mind addressing the point that it is their market values, not their "true" values that matter for trade purposes? And Danks' market value is much higher than Lopez + Lowe.

see post [177]
   185. RJ in TO Posted: October 21, 2009 at 09:01 PM (#3361391)
I'll take Danks over Burnett as well, but that's at least partially due to the frustration of spending three years screaming "THEY CAN'T HIT YOUR STUFF! WHY THE HELL WON'T YOU JUST THROW THE DAMN BALL OVER THE DAMN PLATE" at the TV.
   186. Der Komminsk-sar Posted: October 21, 2009 at 09:13 PM (#3361417)
I'm gonna largely leave David (who I've alternately praised and criticized a zillion times on this site) alone [in short: I think several of the criticisms of the suggested trades here are valid] but...

Harvey said: "I have snapper beat easy. I used to post maybe 5 times a season at USSM until Zumphag notified me I was banned. Given that the stated reasons legitimately did not apply to me I am certain he confused me with another poster. But he dismissed me."
Not sure if you mean he dismissed your follow-up to the banning or dismissed you by banning you, but - if you're banned, you have recourse, right? I was banned here (to my shock) at one point - I inquired about it - the ban (which was presumably inadvertant) was lifted almost immediately.

Doubles/triples allowed are available elsewhere as well - heck, ESPN has had it for at least a decade. You can even find it for the minors some places (minor league splits has doubles, iirc, and firstinning has both, I think).

Have we had a good Wins Above Replacement (what is it good for? not much...) thread here?
   187. Barnaby Jones Posted: October 21, 2009 at 09:34 PM (#3361438)
I'd want to do more work on this before being held to exact numbers, but ballparking it, 4/36 for Lopez and 4/56 for Danks.


Only one second baseman in all of baseball made more than $8 million this year, and his name rhymed with Race Mutley. I make no claims to foreknowledge of GM activity, but a $9 mil AAV for 4 years strikes me as high.

Brian Roberts (who would have been a free agent; the deal starts next year) signed a 4/40 extension this off-season and he is a markedly better player than Lopez.
   188. They paved Misirlou, put up a parking lot Posted: October 21, 2009 at 10:13 PM (#3361467)
I don't buy the argument that they are equally valuable.

Again, no one is making that argument.

That's enough strawman repudiation for me for today.


Perhaps not, but you are arguing that they are close enough in value that 2 mediocre throw ins evens up the trade.
   189. MM1f Posted: October 21, 2009 at 10:44 PM (#3361502)
Is there any evidence that this is more meaningful than Player X hits well on Thursdays or in the first game of a road trip? Or is it just noise? I'm betting it's the latter, and it's certainly not any kind of reason why Gary Matthews Jr should ever pinch hit for Napoli.

I wouldn't say that a guy hitting better late in games is definitely a real factor but it is, at the very least, something to think about.
There isn't any reason you'd face certain pitchers on Thursdays and others on Sundays but, obviously, the pitchers pitching late in games are substantially different than the pitchers that pitch early in games.
So it could be a real effect. Maybe player X has more trouble with 95+ fastballs than a typical hitter
   190. MM1f Posted: October 21, 2009 at 10:47 PM (#3361504)
Braves receive Jose Lopez
Astros receive Martin Prado & Jason Vargas
Mariners receive Kelly Johnson & Felipe Paulino


I like Jose Lopez alot more than most people, I've got a lot of respect for anyone that can log 200 PA, 200 really bad PA, as a 20 year old.
As a Braves fan though I still wouldn't trade him for BOTH of Prado and Johnson.
I'd much rather keep both and either work out a platoon or wait til I'm sure which one is definitely going to be better.
   191. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: October 21, 2009 at 10:55 PM (#3361508)
Der:

I asked and was got the reply, "Don't bother".

I shrugged and moved on. As one reads from the posters there, "It's their site"

It was years ago and I bear no illwill. That nonsense is all DZ who doesn't have one iota of David's savvy. It's gotta be a Big Brother program or DZ is the Tom Hulce garbageworker member of the duo. Only thing that makes sense.
   192. Honkie Kong Posted: October 21, 2009 at 11:11 PM (#3361512)
I'd much rather keep both and either work out a platoon or wait til I'm sure which one is definitely going to be better.

Not much chance of that. KJ is very firmly entrenched in Bobby's doghouse. Pity we can't talk about the Braves' offseason yet. So much depends on the Hudson/Lowe decision.
   193. Jeff K. Posted: October 21, 2009 at 11:21 PM (#3361519)
I sure have. I calculated my own Defense dependent WAR by calculating a pitcher woba using component stats. I don't understand why they don't do that. I get that ERA isn't very useful but it seems to me that if the value of WAR is to put pitchers and hitters on the same scale then not only must the unit of measurement be the same but the input into that unit should be the same too.

One thing, Gaelan: Where the #### were you 3 or 4 weeks ago in the...damn, I forget which thread, but the one where I was saying exactly this and getting hammered from more sides than Lindsay Lohan?
   194. My guest will be Jermaine Allensworth Posted: October 21, 2009 at 11:33 PM (#3361530)
Was the criticism that the last thing the White Sox need is another low-OBP guy, and the Sox would essentially be giving up a valuable player for one who makes a bad problem worse, ever addressed?
   195. WillYoung Posted: October 21, 2009 at 11:36 PM (#3361532)

I still get a chuckle about when Cameron ripped the Twins a new one because they gave Jason Kubel a 3-yr deal rather than signing Eric Hinske.

This isn't even close to what I said.


Sorry David, we've had pleasant email discussions in the past and I've enjoyed your work on explaining great ways to evaluated pitchers, but you definitely ripped the Twins for locking up Kubel rather than signing Hinske.

Twins Sign Kubel. Why? has the following passages written by you:

In what world is Jason Kubel a significnatly better player than Eric Hinske?

[Unlike Kubel]...Hinske can actually play a competent 1B/OF. The offensive difference in their CHONE projections add up to 2-3 runs over a full season, but the defensive gap is clearly much larger. It’s hard to make a case that Kubel > Hinske.

It’s a needless use of resources. The Twins ... need to maximize the return on all the dollars they spend. Especially in this economic climate, where good players can’t find contract offers, giving a multiyear deal to Jason Kubel doesn’t maximize the return.


Of course, Kubel had a terrific 2009 season that, according to Fangraphs, was worth $13.4 million (more than his entire guaranteed contract). It's not fair to say that you should have expected him to be worth $13.4 mil, but you kept hammering any Twins fan who dared justify the contract at the time.
   196. Derek Zumsteg Posted: October 22, 2009 at 01:03 PM (#3361957)
I'd be the first to admit I've gone away from the heavier analysis I did when I wrote at BPro, and continued for a while after I left, and I've moved into other writing, too, which doesn't help. I don't know that that means I should entirely give it up, though clearly writing infrequently while maintaining that 'collapsing infrastructure' isn't credit enough. I have been so happy to see Dave's continued success make my past ones seem smaller.

On commenting generally - yeah. We've struggled with this since we turned it on, and people tossed think the line is too far on the side of yes-think and the others think the comment guidelines need to grow evermore prescriptive.

And certainly since we've taken on volunteer mods the number of moderated comments is up, and that altered the dynamic too. I don't think it's the right balance, but I don't know how you get there.

All of that said, I think you're better off going for the classic 'Dumsteg' which gets the smarts joke and keeps the sound than reaching for some cheap homosexual joke.
   197. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: October 22, 2009 at 01:13 PM (#3361970)
Why does everything get so personal in the internet baseball community. We all like baseball and we're all overly obsessive about it. All this in-fighting is weird. This is fun time, guys. This is where we come to discuss the merits of Jose Lopez and dookie. I'm not sure why every time Tango, or Dave Cameron or MGL or Rob etc. come onto the site there's always gotta be a couple of people that need to get personal. It's cool those guys hang out here and engage us. These guys make the site better and, if a few of them sound like know-it-alls, well, a lot of the regulars here should look in the mirror before throwing stones.

Now look, you made me get serious. I'm heading back to the dookie thread.
   198. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: October 22, 2009 at 02:02 PM (#3362034)
Why does everything get so personal in the internet baseball community.


Because it is the internet instead of face to face. People will write stuff about someone that they wouldn't say to their face. I don't get ithat part. If I say something, it's gone in an instant, unless someone's recording it. But online, stuff sticks around for a while. In this thread, there's folks referencing stuff people said a while back.

But that's only part of it. It's tough to read tone online. The way Dave writes, I sometimes get the impression that he probably thinks I'm subhuman because I disagree with him on xFIP. That probably isn't the case, but my blood boils when he jumps on commenters for using ERA+. "ERA+??? That went out with powdered wigs." Dude, relax. There's folks who still use pitcher's wins in arguments. I mostly agree with you. I'm one of the good guys. So what if I think average is a better baseline than replacement level? I think we're interested in two different things anyways. I'm more interested in the history of the game; what happened. You seem to be more interested in something useful; trying to ascertain what will happen.

But you know what? Every once in a while, you write something like this, Dave and I feel better.
   199. robinred Posted: October 22, 2009 at 02:36 PM (#3362079)
a lot of the regulars here should look in the mirror before throwing stones


If they're throwing stones, they need to eat more fiber.

Because it is the internet instead of face to face.


That's part of it. Cameron knows a lot about baseball and seems like a nice enough guy, but he can be brisk and condescending. Dismissive condescension, be it about baseball, politics, or ass-wiping techniques, always starts trouble, IRL or cybersapce, and doing it in cyberspace is easier.

USSM's comment policy/ethos is similar to many individually-run team-based blogs about all sports that I have seen.
   200. Tom Cervo, backup catcher Posted: October 22, 2009 at 05:12 PM (#3362299)
Interesting. Is there anyplace that where doubles and triples against a pitcher are available? I imagine you have to guesstimate this portion of it. I have some issues with component stats not taking the base-out situation int consideration, but I'm intrigued by this way to skin a cat.


Baseball prospectus has free custom reports you can create that has all this, and you can easily DL them in .csv format.
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