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Thursday, February 22, 2018

What if the Rays actually have a good plan?

Dickerson and Odorizzi aren’t very good. Particularly with Odorizzi, the Rays have capable replacements. Why pay extra money for no gain?

We still don’t know the two PTBNL the Rays are getting in the Souza deal. If Keith Law’s report about the guys not being insignificant prospects is accurate, Bloom’s assertion that it was a baseball talent deal makes the handwringing about the deal misguided.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 22, 2018 at 06:58 AM | 45 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rays

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   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2018 at 08:59 AM (#5628527)
Dickerson and Odorizzi aren’t very good.

That's not true. maybe Odorizzi is damaged goods, but Dickerson is good. The guy had a 120 OPS+ last year (119 career) and put up 2.7 WAR.

They gave him up just to avoid paying him.
   2. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 22, 2018 at 09:15 AM (#5628541)
Dickerson is good. The guy had a 120 OPS+ last year (119 career) and put up 2.7 WAR.


Dickerson had six good weeks last year, fueled mostly by high BABIP. The rest of the year he hit .249/.291/.422, in line with his 2016. He's probably more like a 1-1.5 WAR player than a 3-WAR player.

-- MWE
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2018 at 09:20 AM (#5628544)
Dickerson had six good weeks last year, fueled mostly by high BABIP. The rest of the year he hit .249/.291/.422, in line with his 2016. He's probably more like a 1-1.5 WAR player than a 3-WAR player.

What does that have to do with his value? Lots of players are streaky, you don't discount the hot streaks.

Even if he's a 1 WAR player (and the guy has put up 3.2 WAR per 650 PA in his career), he's still worth $6M.
   4. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: February 22, 2018 at 09:38 AM (#5628550)
ZiPS has him as a 1.5-2.0 WAR player, which I think is about right.

In terms of him being worth $6M...
- they showed they valued him as an aset at around or above that price by going to arb with him
- the prices for middle class talent have been falling this offseason
- we don't yet know what return, if anything, they will get for him through trade after the DFA.

I'd give TB a mixed grade for this offseason, but these look like baseball deals to me. (Alternately, I could just say that I agree with Jeff Sullivan's takes on this subject at FG and save time.)
   5. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: February 22, 2018 at 09:41 AM (#5628555)
1.5-2 win players have value to a team and at just under $6 million he is being underpaid. Dickerson isn't a star but the Rays aren't better without him than they are with him.
   6. McCoy Posted: February 22, 2018 at 10:06 AM (#5628570)
Do teams really spend 6 million dollars on FA players that are projected to be below average?
   7. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: February 22, 2018 at 10:20 AM (#5628578)
Do teams really spend 6 million dollars on FA players that are projected to be below average?


The Cubs gave Jon Jay $8 mil last year. I don't know what his projection was, but he hadn't been above average since 2014. He was -0.3 WAA last year.
   8. TDF, trained monkey Posted: February 22, 2018 at 10:25 AM (#5628586)
We don't know what the Rays' plan is. Some people think they do, but they don't.

I would wait on passing judgement - the seasons is still 2+ months away.
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2018 at 10:29 AM (#5628591)
Do teams really spend 6 million dollars on FA players that are projected to be below average?

Yes. They rushed out to give multi-year deals at $6-8M p.a. to a bunch of RPs, all of whom project well below 2 WAR.
   10. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: February 22, 2018 at 10:45 AM (#5628613)
This relief pitcher thing was really strange. Teams really all seem to have the same model under which if they want a relief pitcher they can sign him to a 2-year contract, but if they want any other player they have to sign a 4-year contract, so to minimize risk they will start out by signing all the relief pitchers and then seeing who's left for other positions. And since every team was doing that, we now have a bunch of overpaid relief pitchers and will finish the off-season with dozens of players exponentially better than Anthony Swarzak getting exponentially lower deals.
   11. Rally Posted: February 22, 2018 at 11:07 AM (#5628638)
Yes. They rushed out to give multi-year deals at $6-8M p.a. to a bunch of RPs, all of whom project well below 2 WAR.


I would exclude relievers in trying to answer the question posed. A 2 WAR projection is an average position player or starting pitcher. Someone who has 2 WAR in the 65 innings a reliever will pitch is damn good. Last year Ken Giles had 1.9 WAR for 62 innings, a 2.30 ERA, and 12 strikeouts per 9. He sure was below average in the postseason though.
   12. McCoy Posted: February 22, 2018 at 11:07 AM (#5628639)
Yes. They rushed out to give multi-year deals at $6-8M p.a. to a bunch of RPs, all of whom project well below 2 WAR.

How about position players?
   13. McCoy Posted: February 22, 2018 at 11:11 AM (#5628645)
For Jon Jay it looks like Zips had him .9 WAR in 348 at bats heading into 2016.
   14. Nasty Nate Posted: February 22, 2018 at 11:16 AM (#5628649)
Here's some that might fit the criteria: Eduardo Nunez this year. Nori Aoki's Seattle deal from a few years ago. Seth Smith with the Orioles last offseason. Wieters to the Nationals. Utley before the '16 season.
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2018 at 11:29 AM (#5628668)
I would exclude relievers in trying to answer the question posed. A 2 WAR projection is an average position player or starting pitcher. Someone who has 2 WAR in the 65 innings a reliever will pitch is damn good. Last year Ken Giles had 1.9 WAR for 62 innings, a 2.30 ERA, and 12 strikeouts per 9. He sure was below average in the postseason though.

Why would we exclude them? $7M for a 1 WAR RP is a lot worse of an investment than $6M for a 2 WAR DH.

There's no sensible reason to value RP production above that of regulars or starters.
   16. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 22, 2018 at 11:32 AM (#5628675)
Leverage is a small reason to value RP production a little higher, but I agree with snapper's overall point.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2018 at 11:47 AM (#5628699)
How about position players?

Well, first of all, Dickerson's not projected to be below average, he's projected to 1.7 WAR in 570 PA, which is just about average. For his career he's above average. So, you really should be asking what do teams pay for 1.5-2.5 WAR players.

In the 2016-17 off-season, I see these comparable.

Carlos Beltran, coming off of seasons of 1.0 WAR, and 2.0 WAR, Zips 1.0 WAR got 1/$16M from the Astros.
Jose Bautista, coming off seasons of 5.1 and 1.0 WAR, Zips 2.7 WAR, got 1/$18.5M from the Blue Jays.
Carlos Gomez, coming off 2.3, and 0.1 WAR seasons, Zips 2.1 WAR, got 1/$11.5M from Texas.
Matt Holliday, coming off 0.8 and 0.3 WAR, Zips 0.5, got 1/$13M from the Yankees.
Mitch Moreland, 2.2, 0.7, Zips 0.4, 1/$5.5M from Boston
Mike Napoli, 1.1, 1.0, Zips 1.2, 1/$8.5M from Cleveland
Steve Pearce, -0.4, 2.3, Zips 1.5, 2/$12.5M from Toronto.
Michael Saunders, -0.1, 1.3, Zips 1.3, 1/$9M from Phillies.

So, the answer is resoundingly yes. Teams recently paid far more than $6M for players no better, and in some cases significantly worse than Corey Dickerson.



   18. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: February 22, 2018 at 12:56 PM (#5628785)
1.5-2 win players have value to a team and at just under $6 million he is being underpaid. Dickerson isn't a star but the Rays aren't better without him than they are with him.
You all know the phrase "They lost with him, they can lose without him." The Rays aren't actually looking to win, so they're going to lose without Dickerson or anyone else with a contract of any size. The marginal on-field advantage of going from somewhat below-average to average just isn't worth it to the Rays, because that's how little they care about the on-field product. I hope they get something when they trade Chris Archer.
   19. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 22, 2018 at 01:01 PM (#5628799)
Why would we exclude them? $7M for a 1 WAR RP is a lot worse of an investment than $6M for a 2 WAR DH.

Because he's asking whether teams really follow the $/WAR calculation when those players are contributing 0 or negative WAA. The WAR/WAA relationship for relief pitchers is much different than for position players so they should probably be considered separately.
   20. Hank Gillette Posted: February 22, 2018 at 01:50 PM (#5628860)
Yes. They rushed out to give multi-year deals at $6-8M p.a. to a bunch of RPs, all of whom project well below 2 WAR.


Aren’t some teams signing relief pitchers as lottery tickets, hoping that one or two will have a breakout season, and then they can trade them during the season for something of more, less transient, value?

Even if they are doing this, I don’t know that it is a good strategy, even for a team with financial constraints. Back when I was reading a lot of articles about investing for retirement, more than one said that buying lottery tickets was not a good retirement strategy.
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2018 at 02:18 PM (#5628890)
Because he's asking whether teams really follow the $/WAR calculation when those players are contributing 0 or negative WAA. The WAR/WAA relationship for relief pitchers is much different than for position players so they should probably be considered separately.

Why would we focus on WAA? Moving a position from 0 to 2.0 WAR (0 WAA) helps a team's win total more than moving a RP spot from 0 to 1.0 WAR (0.5 WAA).
   22. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: February 22, 2018 at 02:23 PM (#5628899)
1.5-2 win players have value to a team and at just under $6 million he is being underpaid. Dickerson isn't a star but the Rays aren't better without him than they are with him.
I'd agree. Of course, that gives him trade value too ... witness that he was traded. (Which we should analyze.)

[I think Pit wins that dea. Hudson is a decent reliever, but not worth his contract. Tristan Gray is a dude I've had pegged as a sleeper, a 2b/3b type who can hit a bit, but not enough to make up the talent gap here.
I also think the Odorizzi deal was "won" by Minny but that it was defensible on either side.]

--

Using 16-17 FA contracts to discuss 17-18 moves seems unwise... the market has clearly changed for this class of player (adequate, middle aged position player on a corner). Discussing why this is, what it means would be fruitful, but I think different than a discussion of "wtf is TB doing".
   23. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: February 22, 2018 at 02:25 PM (#5628901)
Moving a position from 0 to 2.0 WAR (0 WAA) helps a team's win total more than moving a RP spot from 0 to 1.0 WAR (0.5 WAA).

You can't answer this without knowing the quality of the rest of the roster at those positions - they necessarily are occupying different levels of PT.
   24. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2018 at 02:29 PM (#5628907)
You can't answer this without knowing the quality of the rest of the roster at those positions - they necessarily are occupying different levels of PT.

You don't value and pay players based on your roster construction. You value them based on their value to other teams who may be competing with you to sign them.
   25. jmurph Posted: February 22, 2018 at 02:38 PM (#5628924)
You don't value and pay players based on your roster construction.

Hmmm, this seems obviously wrong. I mean maybe over a years long window this is true? But in a given offseason, obviously a position of need is valued differently.
   26. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: February 22, 2018 at 02:41 PM (#5628926)
You don't value and pay players based on your roster construction. You value them based on their value to other teams who may be competing with you to sign them.

You do both and that's obvious on its face.
   27. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2018 at 02:44 PM (#5628930)
You do both and that's obvious on its face.

No, it's not. You pursue players based on your roster needs, and go closer to your maximum bid, but you don't pay $20M a year for a $10M player just because you have a roster hole.

The Angels weren't going to pay Carlos Santana like a 5 WAR player to be their DH just because Albert Pujols put up -1.8 WAR last year.

Deals signed for need, are like drafting for need, they usually end very poorly. Look at the Yankees McCann/Ellsbury/Beltran offseason debacle.
   28. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: February 22, 2018 at 02:53 PM (#5628942)
For Jon Jay it looks like Zips had him .9 WAR in 348 at bats heading into 2016.


That's below average. Jay had 1.1 in 433 last year. 0.9 in 348 scales to 1.1 in 433. That 1.1 in 433 was -0.3 WAA.
   29. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: February 22, 2018 at 02:54 PM (#5628943)
That's why you do both.

If you value a player at 10m on the open market, but you lack internal options at the position, he's a good fit for your park, the market is tight for that role, you're a contending team, whatever - you then value the player differently. It's part of why not all teams have the exact valuations for all players (beyond imperfect information, etc...).

This also gets at some of the flaws with how people use WAR. We assume that the replacement level is constant across time, across positions, and organizations. We ignore variance. We ignore non-linear value in concentrating WAR versus spreading it around.
We also know better and need to demonstrate a lot more nuance in these discussions.
   30. jmurph Posted: February 22, 2018 at 03:19 PM (#5628973)
Deals signed for need, are like drafting for need,

Drafting for need is bad because most draftees won't hit the majors for 4+ years. Signing for need is what literally every team does literally every offseason.
   31. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2018 at 03:29 PM (#5628983)
Drafting for need is bad because most draftees won't hit the majors for 4+ years. Signing for need is what literally every team does literally every offseason.

Sure, but when you pay then fair market more for the need, it usually ends badly. That's where front offices need to have discipline, and flexibility. There never is only one option to fill a hole on your roster.
   32. Rally Posted: February 22, 2018 at 03:33 PM (#5628990)
Why would we exclude them? $7M for a 1 WAR RP is a lot worse of an investment than $6M for a 2 WAR DH.


The question was about paying below average full time players. Relievers are not full time players. 2 WAR represents average for an starting position player or a pitcher making 28-30 starts. 2 WAR for a reliever is one of the best relievers in the game. An average reliever is something more like 0.2 or 0.3 WAR.
   33. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: February 22, 2018 at 03:38 PM (#5628998)
There never is only one option to fill a hole on your roster.
Right, you can always get C.J. Cron to be your DH instead of J.D. Martinez, but they're not really the same option. Your team goals are going to define the reasonability of your options.
   34. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2018 at 03:40 PM (#5629000)
The question was about paying below average full time players. Relievers are not full time players. 2 WAR represents average for an starting position player or a pitcher making 28-30 starts. 2 WAR for a reliever is one of the best relievers in the game. An average reliever is something more like 0.2 or 0.3 WAR.

But the average reliever is a below average player. Hell, very good relievers are below average players. They should be paid less than average regulars or starters.
   35. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: February 22, 2018 at 03:43 PM (#5629005)
The question was about paying below average full time players. Relievers are not full time players. 2 WAR represents average for an starting position player or a pitcher making 28-30 starts. 2 WAR for a reliever is one of the best relievers in the game. An average reliever is something more like 0.2 or 0.3 WAR.


Right. Relievers pitch ~ 1/4 as much as a full time starter. 4 relievers pitching 55 innings at 1 WAR is the equivilent of 1 pitcher throwing 220 innings at 4 WAR. Now, you might not pay a 4 WAR starter $28 mil, but you might pay him $25.
   36. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 22, 2018 at 03:43 PM (#5629006)
Right, you can always get C.J. Cron to be your DH instead of J.D. Martinez, but they're not really the same option.

If you take the extra $110M and spend it to improve your team elsewhere at a better $/win ratio, they are equivalent options.
   37. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: February 22, 2018 at 04:16 PM (#5629023)
An average reliever is something more like 0.2 or 0.3 WAR.
This seems a bit low. Granted, I'm not sure how to differentiate between relievers without options and those with, if we bifurcate the pen into those two camps (those groups should have different baselines / doing so reflects modern pen usage).
Of course, this may explain why I think that teams are paying too much for relievers (which is different than snapper/Misirlou's reasoning).
   38. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: February 22, 2018 at 06:22 PM (#5629069)
Okay, looking at ZiPS projections (just as shorthand/laziness), a reliever with an ERA+ in the mid-to-high 100s (average reliever) is like 0.6/0.7 WAR.
   39. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: February 22, 2018 at 06:32 PM (#5629075)
If you take the extra $110M and spend it to improve your team elsewhere at a better $/win ratio, they are equivalent options.
This assumes that (1) your team needs that elsewhere, and (2) those other options are open to you. You're being wildly oversimplistic.
   40. GGIAS (aka Poster Nutbag) Posted: February 22, 2018 at 08:23 PM (#5629153)
Rays Plan:

1. Don’t #### up like Miami
2. See #1
   41. Walt Davis Posted: February 22, 2018 at 09:23 PM (#5629198)
a reliever with an ERA+ in the mid-to-high 100s (average reliever) is like 0.6/0.7 WAR.

Does that mean a 105-110 ERA+ or a 150-170 ERA+??

First there are essentially three classes of reliever -- closer, 4 set-up guys, 3 slots to absorb the rest of the innings.

Over the last 5 seasons, 126 pitcher-seasons of 20+ saves, the median season ERA+ is 144-145. (Wow, Maurer, 22 saves with a 66 ERA+) The median bWAR is 1.5

Set-up guys are hard to define, especially as distinct from absorbers. I went with at least 50 GR, no starts, aLI>1, saves<=10 and IP<=1.1*GR ... that's 299 seasons over 5 years so 2 per team which doesn't seem enough (hang on). For this group, the median ERA+ is 127, median bWAR is 0.9.

I played around a bit and shifted to 40+ GR, aLI>0.9, saves <=10 and IP<=1.2*GR ... this gets us out to 432 pitcher seasons over 5 years which is close to 3 per team. Median ERA+ is 125, median bWAR is 0.7, presumably mostly due to fewer IP and lower aLI. The median innings are about 58-59.

Now the overall reliever ERA+ for AL 2017 is about 107. The top 4 guys will throw about 240 innings, the total number of relief innings these days (on average) is about 540. The top 4 average about a 130 ERA+ meaning the bottom half are averaging about a 89 ERA+. The median bullpen bWAR for AL 2017 was 4.9, average 5.2 ... about 3.6 of that is coming from the top 4.

It therefore seems kinda pointless to compare anybody to the "average reliever." What you're (hoping) to pay for on the FA set-up guy market is one of those 125 ERA+, 0.7-0.9 bWAR guys. That guy "should" make about $6-7 AAV, so the good ones $8-10 and the lower tier $4-5. There's almost no point signing a 105 or lower ERA+ reliever on the FA market unless you are really desperate for an absorber.

So there's just not much point comparing anybody to the "average" reliever. An average reliever is at best the 4th guy in a bad pen and is rarely pitching leveraged innings.

Maybe that's another useful way to look at it. Seasons with 40+ GR, sorted by aLI ... 859, 5.73 per team-season, the median leverage is 1.17; median IP is 59 (hey, it's that Maurer season again); 600th in IP (4 per team per 5 seasons) is 53 IP. So from 4 of these guys your still get about 240 innings. For those 600 with 53+ IP, median leverage is around 1.26, median ERA+ is 129, median bWAR is 1. Now that includes closers so ... saves <=12 comes to 451 pitcher-seasons and back to a median ERA+ of 125, bWAR of 0.9, and aLI of 1.11.

That's more what an "average reliever" looks like, what teams are looking for and paying for on the FA market. Of course relievers are extra flighty so they often don't get what they're looking for.
   42. Itsdrainageeli Posted: February 23, 2018 at 04:32 PM (#5629784)
Maybe relievers with similar WAR are paid more simply due to scarcity. Perhaps there are simply not a lot of relief pitchers capable of putting up 2 WAR but there are a lot of batters capable putting up 2 oWAR. While value over replacement may be similar, maybe finding another reliever capable of 2 WAR in relief is simply harder to find than the 2 oWAR batter. I haven't done any work to establish that by the way.
   43. Walt Davis Posted: February 23, 2018 at 05:24 PM (#5629823)
#42 ... as Misrlou notes in #35, reliever contracts start to look reasonable once you start thinking that 3 leveraged relievers equal one very good starter. Even leaving closers aside, those 3 guys (you hope) will give you 180-200 innings of about 120-130 ERA+ pitching in high-leverage 7th and 8th innings. That's Yu Darvish who just got $22 per. Relievers are even less stable than starters so usually get 2-3 year contracts but still filling out slots 2-4 for $22 M total AAV is defensible and roughly right in line with $8 M/WAR. (Whether closers are actually worth the .5-1 WAR premium they seem to command seems questionable to me.) I think it would be interesting to see if teams actually pay for leverage (outside the closer slot where they pretty clearly do.)

So I don't think we need to get too far into the margins to explain things. Plus such seasons are not rare. Over the last 5 years, 573 reliever-seasons, min 40 GR, have produced >=0 WAA, 614 >= -0.1 WAA). So 3.5-4+ per team. Hard to say what the position player equivalent is but, for 400+ PA, the equivalent counts are 649 and 660. Given rosters now are nearly equal hitter/pitcher and given measured against average, those numbers almost have to be equivalent. And if there are any lessons from the last few years, one surely is that the supply of guys who can give you 50+ innings of high-K, low ERA relief is quite deep. It's only on the pitching side where we see "bench" players taking PT from starters and have discussions of how we can arrange it so they take even more. Maybe the 70s-80s -- which seemed a time of heavy platooning -- compares on the hitter side.
   44. Itsdrainageeli Posted: February 23, 2018 at 06:55 PM (#5629859)
Yeah, that actually makes sense.
   45. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: February 24, 2018 at 08:18 PM (#5630090)
mid-to-high 100s (average reliever)
I knew I was going to pay for that.

Walt, your perspective isn't all that different than mine.
I split the pen into a group of 5 guys who are the full time relievers and a pool of guys riding the shuttle. Of those 5, they're in a spectrum of expected usefulness, where the closer is hopefully as good as possible. You want better than average - not average - from this pool... at least a 125-135 if you're going to get someone from outside your system from the free agent market. But, like you say, relievers are flighty -- which is why I view it as a spectrum and less fixed in terms of roles (lefty/righty aside).

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