Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Vaccaro: Mets: Don’t be Bonilla-heads

...tales you lose.

It is one thing for a team with resources, such as the Mets, to muscle up for Mike Piazza or Carlos Beltran or Frankie Rodriguez, seminal players whose coveted gifts demand top dollar; it is another to throw money at players who would be second-tier free agents in other winters. Especially if signing someone this year precludes you from diving into next year’s much deeper class — which could include Joe Mauer, Carl Crawford and Beckett, among others.

Several reports indicate the Mets are close to signing Bay, which might well keep angry fans at bay and provide the Mets with the illusion (if not the delusion) that they are indeed willing to flex and preen and dust off the wallet. But please do not mistake Bay for Vlad Guerrero circa 2003, a free agent the Mets should have pursued and didn’t.

If anything, he is Bonilla circa 1992, whom the Mets paid like a franchise player, thereby forcing them to bypass Barry Bonds — a real one ­­— the next year. And signing Appier in 2000 may have kept them from pursuing the likes of John Smoltz and David Wells in 2002.

If the Mets truly believe Bay is worth $75 million and five years, by all means, they should sign him at once. If they’re doing it to satisfy the baying bloodhounds, then they ain’t heard nothing yet

Repoz Posted: December 17, 2009 at 02:22 PM | 34 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, mets, rumors

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Roadblock Jones Posted: December 17, 2009 at 02:37 PM (#3415889)
Right on, Mike. Compare this with the garbage John Harper's been writing this week in the Snooze. I wish they'd switch papers.
   2. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 17, 2009 at 02:39 PM (#3415892)
Frankie Rodriguez, seminal players

Heh!
   3. RJ in TO Posted: December 17, 2009 at 02:50 PM (#3415913)
If anything, he is Bonilla circa 1992, whom the Mets paid like a franchise player, thereby forcing them to bypass Barry Bonds — a real one ­­— the next year.


Bonilla, under that contract, put together a .265/.365/.508 line (129 OPS+) over 2854 PA. On field, he performed up to his pay (but I'm going to deliberately not mention the off-field stuff). It's not his fault that the rest of the team was loaded up with elite performers like Dick Schofield, Vince Coleman, and the corpse of Howard Johnson.

Would Bonds have been a better investment? Of course. But Bonilla was hardly an on-field disaster.
   4. zack Posted: December 17, 2009 at 02:50 PM (#3415914)
The Mets should be going hard after Holliday. It doesn't sound like the Yankees are all that in on him, so there's no reason they shouldn't be able to pull it off. He's the one player who will actually help in later years.
   5. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: December 17, 2009 at 03:06 PM (#3415935)
The Post? Agreeing with Greg Prince, Matt Cerrone and Eric Simon? Really???? Who'dathunk...?
   6. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: December 17, 2009 at 03:15 PM (#3415939)
It doesn't sound like the Yankees are all that in on him

I don't believe this for a second. They're just waiting to see what the market is, so they can swoop in and trump whatever's on the table.
   7. Sam M. Posted: December 17, 2009 at 03:25 PM (#3415948)
Bonilla, under that contract, put together a .265/.365/.508 line (129 OPS+) over 2854 PA. On field, he performed up to his pay (but I'm going to deliberately not mention the off-field stuff).

He was also a butcher with the glove, Ryan. And I believe the Mets are still paying deferred money on that contract. Trotting out Bonilla's offensive line is at least a little misleading.

Anyway, I am pretty ambivalent about Bay. Frankly, the Mets shouldn't be in a position where signing Jason Bay has any substantial impact on their ability to pursue other players they need in the next couple of years. If they say they have to shut it down and not go after somebody next year because of Bay's salary, that's just an excuse. It'll be because they do stupid stuff like sign Francoeur to a multi-year deal instead of a one-year contract, and thus don't free up RF for cost-controlled F-Mart in 2011. That would be about a $6M mistake?

The one thing I like about what I read on the Holliday/Bay front is that at least they say they prefer Bay for a good reason: they have studied the hitting patterns for the both of them and have concluded that Bay fits Citifield much better. That may be BS, but at least it is part of the approach that an intelligent organization takes to player acquisition. At this point, I will take the least sign of intelligent life in the Flushing part of the universe.
   8. Win one for Agrippa (haplo53) Posted: December 17, 2009 at 03:30 PM (#3415956)
And I believe the Mets are still paying deferred money on that contract.


Actually I don't think they've even begun (and FWIW I think they'll be paying deferred money on the contract he was in when they traded for him in the 98/99 offseason). I think it's something like $1m a year for 25 years starting either next year or 2011. Hilariously horrifying, or horrifyingly hilarious. Or something.
   9. Win one for Agrippa (haplo53) Posted: December 17, 2009 at 03:32 PM (#3415960)
Anyway, I am pretty ambivalent about Bay. Frankly, the Mets shouldn't be in a position where signing Jason Bay has any substantial impact on their ability to pursue other players they need in the next couple of years. If they say they have to shut it down and not go after somebody next year because of Bay's salary, that's just an excuse. It'll be because they do stupid stuff like sign Francoeur to a multi-year deal instead of a one-year contract, and thus don't free up RF for cost-controlled F-Mart in 2011. That would be about a $6M mistake?

The one thing I like about what I read on the Holliday/Bay front is that at least they say they prefer Bay for a good reason: they have studied the hitting patterns for the both of them and have concluded that Bay fits Citifield much better. That may be BS, but at least it is part of the approach that an intelligent organization takes to player acquisition. At this point, I will take the least sign of intelligent life in the Flushing part of the universe.


Agreed on both paragraphs. Good post Sam.
   10. JMPH Posted: December 17, 2009 at 03:41 PM (#3415970)
Per Wikipedia:
When the New York Mets placed Bonilla on unconditional waivers in 2000, they agreed to pay out the remainder of his contract by deferring the remaining $5.9 million. Instead of paying him upfront for that money they came to an agreement where the Mets would pay him 25 equal payments of $1,193,248.20 every July 1 from 2011 until 2035. He spent the 2000 season playing for the Atlanta Braves. Although that seems like a large amount of money, the present value of those payments at an interest rate of 8% is $5.9 million.
   11. Freeballin' (Tales of Met Power) Posted: December 17, 2009 at 03:46 PM (#3415977)
Right, so it was Bonilla Part Deux that they're not done paying -- not the contract they signed before the 1992 season.
   12. billyshears Posted: December 17, 2009 at 03:56 PM (#3415996)
Anyway, I am pretty ambivalent about Bay.


If they could get him for something like 4/68, which I think is possible, I wouldn't mind. I don't love going to 5 years, but 5/75 (which is the deal I've heard reported) isn't awful.
   13. RJ in TO Posted: December 17, 2009 at 04:00 PM (#3416003)
Right, so it was Bonilla Part Deux that they're not done paying


That was my favorite dumb signing ever. It was as if the Mets' management had completely forgotten about how much they hated his first tour with the team.
   14. philly Posted: December 17, 2009 at 04:04 PM (#3416008)
re: Bonilla's deferred payments

I have a pretty clear recollection of Mets officials claiming that the longterm deferral was no big deal because they were going invest the 5.9M today and be able to make the deferral payments off the ROI.

I wonder how that turned out...
   15. SoSH U at work Posted: December 17, 2009 at 04:15 PM (#3416021)
I wonder how that turned out...


They probably Made Off like bandits.
   16. billyshears Posted: December 17, 2009 at 04:19 PM (#3416026)
I always thought getting the deferred payments was a very smart move by Bonilla. Of course, economically it was probably a wash, but so many athletes squander their money. A stream of $1 mil payments over 25 years is a pretty nice retirement plan for Bonilla.
   17. Roadblock Jones Posted: December 17, 2009 at 04:31 PM (#3416040)
Right, so it was Bonilla Part Deux that they're not done paying


That was my favorite dumb signing ever. It was as if the Mets' management had completely forgotten about how much they hated his first tour with the team.


They acquired Bonilla for the 2nd time in a trade for Mel Rojas, who also had an ornery contract and was unwanted. And I believe it was made by Frank Cashen who at the time was sitting in for Steve Phillips who'd then been suspended for banging a team secretary. The contract was originally Florida's.

Anyway, Bonilla as a bench option for that 99 team wasn't the worst idea ever. He could switch hit with power, and fake it at left, right and third. That he was a headache was predictable but not the 48 OPS+.
   18. Sam M. Posted: December 17, 2009 at 04:36 PM (#3416047)
And I believe it was made by Frank Cashen who at the time was sitting in for Steve Phillips who'd then been suspended for banging a team secretary.

Steve Phillips??? Sexual indiscretions??? Good thing the guy learned his lesson from that mistake and has been a pillar of the community ever since. One can only hope Tiger Woods follows his example.
   19. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: December 17, 2009 at 04:42 PM (#3416053)
We don't understand their plight.
   20. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: December 17, 2009 at 04:46 PM (#3416057)
I must admit tht as a young Pirates fan, I really enjoyed watching Mets fans give Bonilla the business after the signing didn't work out the way they'd planned.
   21. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: December 17, 2009 at 04:58 PM (#3416075)
At this point, I will take the least sign of intelligent life in the Flushing part of the universe.

Yikes, I guess you do think Omar is an idiot.
   22. valuearbitrageur Posted: December 17, 2009 at 05:33 PM (#3416112)
I always thought getting the deferred payments was a very smart move by Bonilla. Of course, economically it was probably a wash, but so many athletes squander their money. A stream of $1 mil payments over 25 years is a pretty nice retirement plan for Bonilla.


It wasn't an economic wash, it was a Bon-illa-anza. Paying 8% on deferred salaries was a horrible economic decision by the Mets. At the time there was no way to finance it with "risk free" investments like bonds, T-Bills were paying around 6% on that duration, the team would have to go down to B rated corporate bonds, essentially junk bonds, and even then default rates would drop the return below 8%.

Essentially it seems this was one of those decisions that came during the height of the internet bubble, when many thought the stock market was a slam dunk to return 10%+ a year over short periods, let alone long periods. So the team took volatility risk by relying on the stock market, and so far it hasn't worked out. The S&P;500 was between 1250 and 1400 most of that year, it's 1099 now. Even with dividends, if in a S&P;Index fund the $5.9M is probably still undwater. Soon they'll need $13M to fund the next 25 years of payments, and that's assuming they can earn 8% going forward, otherwise they'll need much more. They are likely in a huge hole.

Think about it another way. Bobby Bo got a virtually risk free return of 8% on his deferral. The likelihood of current MLB teams going bankrupt is close to nil and even if the Mets did, he'd likely still get paid most of what he's owed because of the value of the team in sale. Bobby locked down an extra 2% per year for 35 years over treasuries, which increased his annuity payout from $825k to almost $1.2M per year.

Apparently Bobby's financial advisor was smart enough to know that the stock market wasn't destined to return 10%+ a year forever. The Mets financial advisors weren't, but I'm sure they still got paid handsomely for structuring the deal.
   23. Freeballin' (Tales of Met Power) Posted: December 17, 2009 at 06:01 PM (#3416136)
You could say this means he'll never go hungry, but he's probably still going to be hungry.
   24. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: December 17, 2009 at 06:05 PM (#3416138)
OK, #22 made my head hurt...
   25. Russ Posted: December 17, 2009 at 06:07 PM (#3416140)
You could say this means he'll never go hungry, but he's probably still going to be hungry.


You're only as not hungry as what is in your refrigerator.
   26. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: December 17, 2009 at 06:12 PM (#3416145)
OK, #22 made my head hurt...
I'll give you the Cliff Notes version: the Wilpons, or people selected by them, made a dumb decision.
   27. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: December 17, 2009 at 06:12 PM (#3416146)
And said dumb decision is going to cost them a fair bit of cash.
   28. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 17, 2009 at 06:23 PM (#3416157)
Paying 8% on deferred salaries was a horrible economic decision by the Mets.

Really depends what their cost of funds was at the time. If they had the cash, then yes, it was a bad move considering their return on that money has certainly been <8% and most probably was negative.

If they would have needed to borrow that money, we'd have to know whether their cost of borrowing was <8% or >8%.
   29. TVerik - Dr. Velocity Posted: December 17, 2009 at 06:34 PM (#3416163)
Post #22 is great, of course. But two things are left unmentioned:

With inflation making the Bo-payments less and less in "spending power" each year, deferring makes sense. Stock market aside, inflation will almost certainly grow sufficiently to make the payments easier to afford for the Metsies.

If you put your money in stocks, part of the reason that the returns can be underwhelming is that they can be paid at any time. No matter what Bobby Bo's financial situation is, the payment schedule is completely set up in advance. That's why lottery winnings are a lot more if you take the structured payments instead of the lump sum.

EDIT:

I can't believe I've been reduced to defending Bobby Bonilla v2.0's contract status.
   30. Walt Davis Posted: December 17, 2009 at 07:01 PM (#3416174)
Where was I?

I can't think of an offseason where a player who, over the previous two years (cherry-picked to avoid his poor 2007), had 67 HR, 220 RBI, 214 runs, and a 134 OPS+ has ever been considered a "second-tier" FA. Bats that good don't come on the market very often.

There are reasons to be unexcited about a long, expensive Bay signing but he's surely one of the top 30 hitters in baseball. Bonilla is probably a pretty good comp actually.

which could include Joe Mauer, Carl Crawford and Beckett, among others.

And the only one of those I think might hit the market would be Crawford, especially since the Red Sox didn't land Halladay. If Mauer does hit the market, I put the Mets' chances of outbidding the Yanks and Red Sox at near zero. Crawford's been a wonderful, underrated player but he's a strange name to throw out there when your advising the team focus on signing "seminal" players. Crawford is essentially the high BA, low power version of Mike Cameron. He's maybe as good as prime Geoff Jenkins.

Of course the guy also brought up David Wells -- a perfectly fine pitcher but hardly seminal by any definition, never as talented as Appier, and he was 39 in 2002. And of course that no-good bastard Appier, in his one season for the Mets, only put up a 117 ERA+ in 206 IP then got traded to Anaheim where he put up a 113 ERA+ in 188 IP, then got hurt. Yep, that was a really dumb signing by the Mets. (I'll admit that, at the time, I thought it was a pretty dumb signing for the money -- I had underrated Appier and was wrong.)

He mentions Beckett as seminal. Beckett will maybe hit the market after his age 30 season. Through age 29, he's got 1400 IP with a 117 ERA+, 1330 Ks, a 3.12 K/BB and 1 HR/9. Through age 30, Appier had 1680 IP with a 135 ERA+, 1373 K, a 2.4 K/BB and .6 HR/9. The K-rate might give you reason to hope Beckett will age better and, alas, Appier's arm fell off for the first time in that age 30 season and the Ks never returned but, over the next 4 years, he still put up a line of 800 IP and a 106 ERA+. Beckett's future employers shouldn't expect much more than that from him ages 31-34.

Basically the guy mentioned mostly a bunch of comparable players -- Bonilla, Bay, Beckett, Appier, Crawford, Rodriguez, Wells -- and claimed half of them meet his criteria for "seminal" and half don't. [I will grant that Piazza, Beltran, Mauer are clearly "seminal."]

And then there was this line which confuses me:

If the Mets truly believe Bay is worth $75 million and five years, by all means, they should sign him at once. If they’re doing it to satisfy the baying bloodhounds, then they ain’t heard nothing yet

He's spent the article claiming that Bay is not a seminal FA and that committing 5/$75 to him would be a big mistake ... then says it's OK as long as the Mets truly believe he's worth it. I'll grant you that among the last thing the Mets need (in terms of their relationship with their fans) is a big FA bust right now but he overlooks what the Mets are going to "hear" if they don't improve the team this offseason and have another disappointing season.

I'll admit, I don't envy Omar this offseason. After 2 "chokes" and an horrendous season, the pressure to win now is immense. However, he's got a great core and a little tinkering around the edges will (barring another rash of injuries) make this team competitive. He's got too much money invested in Perez and Pelfrey and Maine are still too young for him to walk away from any of those guys but he also can't stick with this rotation. There might well be better options coming on the market next year and Bay has some serious limitations as an NL player long-term. And who knows how much money he really has to play with this year and next. Mostly sitting tight this offseason might well be the best baseball decision but it's a pretty tough business decision.
   31. The usual palaver and twaddle (Met Fan Charlie) Posted: December 17, 2009 at 07:35 PM (#3416218)
I'll give you the Cliff Notes version: the Wilpons, or people selected by them, made a dumb decision.


And in other news, the sun rose in the East this morning. Not only that, water is wet.
   32. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: December 17, 2009 at 07:58 PM (#3416240)
He's spent the article claiming that Bay is not a seminal FA and that committing 5/$75 to him would be a big mistake ... then says it's OK as long as the Mets truly believe he's worth it


I guess that's an offshoot of the Costanza doctrine, --it's not a lie if you believe it
   33. Swedish Chef Posted: December 17, 2009 at 08:18 PM (#3416254)
It wasn't an economic wash, it was a Bon-illa-anza. Paying 8% on deferred salaries was a horrible economic decision by the Mets. At the time there was no way to finance it with "risk free" investments like bonds, T-Bills were paying around 6% on that duration, the team would have to go down to B rated corporate bonds, essentially junk bonds, and even then default rates would drop the return below 8%.

Ah, but they had their money with Madoff at a big riskless yield.
   34. Something Other Posted: December 18, 2009 at 06:22 AM (#3416648)
How do the posters who favor signing Bay (or who are at worst neutral about it) see his WAR from 2007 on (0.0, 2.9, 3.5) in light of the salary he's likely to get?
   35. Jose is Absurdly Unemployed Posted: December 18, 2009 at 12:06 PM (#3416672)
How do the posters who favor signing Bay (or who are at worst neutral about it) see his WAR from 2007 on (0.0, 2.9, 3.5) in light of the salary he's likely to get?


I don't trust the defensive numbers. I remain unconvinced that the defensive numbers are accurate in terms of order of magnitude. I'm not disputing that Bay is a poor defender. I think most of the new metrics measure who is or is not good very well, but I do not think that the impact of that is measured accurately. I don't think defense is, at the moment, being measured with the same precision as offense and I think it is folly to put too much stock into those numbers.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

News

All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand


BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Eugene Freedman
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogBaseball fans trashed the MLB Players' Weekend black-and-white jerseys
(23 - 6:21pm, Aug 24)
Last: My name is RMc and I feel extremely affected

NewsblogOrioles clean house, fire 11 members of scouting and front office departments
(11 - 6:19pm, Aug 24)
Last: The Yankee Clapper

NewsblogIs Mike Trout really better than Derek Jeter?
(48 - 6:18pm, Aug 24)
Last: DavidFoss

NewsblogOMNICHATTER for the weekend of August 24-25, 2019
(31 - 5:55pm, Aug 24)
Last: What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face?

NewsblogOT Soccer Thread - A New Season is Upon Baldrick
(573 - 4:59pm, Aug 24)
Last: Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle

NewsblogCan Ronald Acuña Jr. join 40-40 club after becoming second youngest to 30-30?
(7 - 4:53pm, Aug 24)
Last: Walt Davis

NewsblogTom Brady’s bid to trademark ‘Tom Terrific’ rejected
(4 - 4:05pm, Aug 24)
Last: Nasty Nate

NewsblogRevisiting whether clutch is a skill
(48 - 3:51pm, Aug 24)
Last: Sunday silence

NewsblogAlex Rodriguez shares painful details of MLB suspension on Danica Patrick's podcast
(27 - 2:32pm, Aug 24)
Last: pikepredator

NewsblogOMNICHATTER 8-23-19
(99 - 1:39pm, Aug 24)
Last: ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick

NewsblogCarl Yastrzemski knows it'll be 'emotional' to see Mike play at Fenway
(17 - 1:34pm, Aug 24)
Last: The Yankee Clapper

NewsblogThe reason Reymin Guduan was suspended
(12 - 1:21pm, Aug 24)
Last: PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina

NewsblogHow players are using uniform numbers to break MLB's unwritten rules
(39 - 12:44pm, Aug 24)
Last: ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick

NewsblogOT - NBA thread (Playoffs through off-season)
(6552 - 11:46am, Aug 24)
Last: it's hittin' 53450n.

NewsblogJudge upholds arbitration ruling that Orioles owed Nationals $296.8 million in MASN TV rights dispute
(8 - 9:54am, Aug 24)
Last: Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network)

Page rendered in 0.4299 seconds
46 querie(s) executed