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Transaction Oracle
— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Chicago White Sox - Signed Linebrink

Chicago White Sox - Signed P Scott Linebrink to a 4-year, $19 million contract.

Let’s say you have a pitcher with these K/9 numbers


Year   K/9
——————
2004   8.89
2005   8.55
2006   8.09
2007   6.40

Now, assume this pitcher’s HR rate also went up by 40% from 2004-2005 to 2006-2007.  And that for most of those 4 years that pitcher was pitching in a stadium with a 3-year HR factor of 87 in the NL and you’re an AL team in the best HR park in baseball the last 3 years, with a HR factor of 124.  You’re also helming a 4th-place team that looks like it will remain a 4th-place teams and almost all of your valuable offensive players are well into their 30s.  When this pitcher’s agent comes a’calling, what do you do?

If you said “Sign to a 4-year contract,” congratulations, you’re Kenny Williams!

2008 ZiPS Projection - Scott Linebrink
——————————————————————————————-
        W   L   G GS   IP   H   ER HR BB SO   ERA
——————————————————————————————-
Projection 5   5 70   0   69   75   36 12 23 49 4.70
2009?    4   6 70   0   69   78   39 13 22 48 5.09
2010?    4   6 71   0   70   79   40 13 23 47 5.14
2011?    4   6 71   0   70   79   41 13 24 48 5.27
——————————————————————————————-
Opt. (15%)  7   4 78   0   80   77   31 10 23 63 3.49
Pes. (15%)  3   5 59   0   55   66   37 13 24 35 6.05
———————————————————————————————
Top Comps:  Jerry Reed, Donn Pall

 

Dan Szymborski Posted: November 22, 2007 at 02:11 PM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: November 22, 2007 at 03:28 PM (#2623339)
When everyone was talking about "market correction" a few offseasons ago, I remember someone saying that teams had finally figured out that paying middle relievers 4 million dollars a year was a bad idea. So much for that.
   2. Enrico Pallazzo Posted: November 22, 2007 at 03:46 PM (#2623345)
Dear Kenny Williams,

Thanks, buddy.

-- The AL Central
   3. Valentine Posted: November 22, 2007 at 05:56 PM (#2623429)
It isn't the $4M that is the problem. It's the $15M that follow it. A rich team like the White Sox can afford to eat a horrible $4M contract, but this ensures that Linebrink will be clogging the bullpen for years to come.

White Sox = Orioles?
   4. Walt Davis Posted: November 22, 2007 at 06:04 PM (#2623438)
Wow, those projections are awful.

In the real world, maybe this will work out, but in ZIPS-land, Kenny Williams has returned to being dumb as rocks. :-)
   5. nycfan Posted: November 22, 2007 at 06:14 PM (#2623446)
And the White Sox have to give up a draft pick
   6. bibigon Posted: November 22, 2007 at 06:21 PM (#2623452)
This is just brutal. Who was the last middle reliever to get a four year deal anyways?
   7. DCA Posted: November 22, 2007 at 06:29 PM (#2623457)
Justin Speier got one last year.
   8. Spahn Insane Posted: November 22, 2007 at 06:29 PM (#2623458)
This is just brutal. Who was the last middle reliever to get a four year deal anyways?

Think the Angels gave Justin Speier 4 years a while back. Can't think of anyone else. This makes Hendry's giving 3 years to both Howry and Eyre 2 years ago look modest.
   9. Spahn Insane Posted: November 22, 2007 at 06:30 PM (#2623459)
Was the Speier deal just last year? Man, my mind's going.
   10. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 22, 2007 at 06:40 PM (#2623464)
Speier's 4-year deal was last year, but I tend to like 4-year deals for players I project for a 3.41 ERA without any red flags that make me worry rather than players like Linebrink? It would be one thing to give this contract to Linebrink before 2007, but it's another to pay him like he's the pre-2007 Linebrink after 2007.
   11. Jim Wisinski Posted: November 22, 2007 at 11:09 PM (#2623526)
Relievers are volatile enough in performance that this COULD turn out fine for the White Sox, but that's a whole lot of risk. At least they have a high enough payroll to absorb this even if it becomes a complete disaster, just a matter of them coming to terms with it early enough and not letting him blow too many games if he does match those projections.
   12. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: November 22, 2007 at 11:16 PM (#2623528)
And the White Sox have to give up a draft pick

Yeah but not the first-round pick. Drafting 8th, the White Sox's pick is protected. They'll only need to sacrifice a second-round pick.
   13. rr Posted: November 22, 2007 at 11:29 PM (#2623532)
I really don't get why GMs give long contracts to guys like this. I am not trying to be funny or snarky or anything--I seriously don't understand it. Presumably, other teams were offering Linebrink 3 and 4 years as well, right?

I mean, signing Linebrink is OK--he might bounce back. But for four years...
   14. Valentine Posted: November 22, 2007 at 11:40 PM (#2623536)
Robin, I'm guessing they are looking back a couple years and remembering how good he once was. Easy enough then to make excuses for the last couple seasons? They may also have a poor handle on park effects.
   15. BeanoCook Posted: November 23, 2007 at 12:58 AM (#2623545)
I think this deal was a mistake, but I have to think that these projections are even more of a mistake. Seriously, these numbers are terrible for even a #5 starter, let alone a reliever.

Sorry, but I have to say Linebrink will both blow these numbers away and succeed in being a bust for Chicago.
   16. bhoov Posted: November 23, 2007 at 05:25 AM (#2623626)
Don't like the length of the deal. But I think Linebrink will come closer to his Bill James projetion than the 4.70 listed above. After his trade to Milwaukee his K rate came right back up to his career norm.
   17. crawdaddy Posted: November 24, 2007 at 01:56 AM (#2624015)
sorry, i am kind of new to the site, but i was wondering . . . you mentioned his declining K/9 rate, yet ZIPS predicts that his K/9 and BB/9 remain constant. WHIP is also staying the same. so . . . what this seems to project is that his performance level will remain constant over the next 4 years.
   18. KDub's CellPiece (BLtDH) Posted: November 24, 2007 at 03:09 AM (#2624042)
what this seems to project is that his performance level will remain constant over the next 4 years


i would assume a significant reason for the rise in his era would be moving to the AL and to an extreme hitters park from an extreme pitchers park.
   19. Dan Szymborski Posted: November 24, 2007 at 03:24 AM (#2624045)
ZiPS is actually projecting Linebrink to pitch about the same as he did in 2007 - his periphals for the past season are indicative of a pitcher with a 93 ERA+ in the parks he played in. ZiPS sees Linebrink's peripherals of a 90 ERA+ pitcher but pitching like a 98 ERA+ pitcher based on his history.
   20. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 24, 2007 at 07:11 PM (#2624281)
Donnnn Pall. Heh.
   21. It's a shame about Athletic Supporter Posted: November 25, 2007 at 04:11 AM (#2624478)
Dan, I have a question. I know that ZiPS is comparable based, and not a playing time predictor. What does it do with Linebrink's no doubt many comparables who were out of baseball over the course of the contract, as far as multi-year projections go? Given the volatility of pitchers, especially relievers, as far as shelf life goes, it seems relevant on some level.

Just curious.
   22. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: November 25, 2007 at 04:38 AM (#2624487)
White Sox fans, how available is Contreras? Would the WS be willing to eat money?
   23. Amit Posted: November 25, 2007 at 04:45 AM (#2624493)
Would anybody want him? As a starter?
   24. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: November 25, 2007 at 04:54 AM (#2624496)
It depends on what happens with the other starting pitching available this offseason but I think Contreras could actually be a nice gamble. He has averaged 197 IP the last three seasons. 3.93 ERA in 2005-2006. His FIP was better than his ERA although not very good. He does a good job of limiting homers despite playing in a launching pad and bb/9 ratio is pretty strong. He still has pretty good stuff. I think he could be another Duque for the Mets.
   25. Amit Posted: November 25, 2007 at 04:55 AM (#2624497)
Well, I wouldn't give up much more than we traded for El Duque.
   26. Dag Nabbit is a cornucopia of errors Posted: November 25, 2007 at 05:39 AM (#2624504)
but I think Contreras could actually be a nice gamble. He has averaged 197 IP the last three seasons. 3.93 ERA in 2005-2006. His FIP was better than his ERA although not very good. He does a good job of limiting homers despite playing in a launching pad and bb/9 ratio is pretty strong.

His W/K ratio was below average last year. His problem is that his decline in ERA can be directly tracable to his worsening strike out rate. K-rate by year:

2005 6.77/9IP
2006 6.15
2007 5.38

In '06 he partially made up for it by improving his control. Last year that went backwards as well.

It looks even worse if you look at half-seasons. The second half of 2005 he was as good as he'll ever be. Since then:

2nd Half 2005: 8.47 K/9IP, 2.79 W/9IP, 2.96 ERA
1st Half 2006: 6.34 K/9IP, 2.63 W/9IP, 3.38 ERA
2nd Half 2006: 5.92 K/9IP, 2.39 W/9IP, 5.40 ERA
1st Half 2007: 5.36 K/9IP, 3.31 W/9IP, 5.19 ERA
2nd Half 2007: 5.40 K/9IP, 2.55 W/9IP, 6.01 ERA

It's not a perfect straight line, but these things never are. As his K-rate goes, so goes Contreras. And his K-rate is GONE.

I should note, after getting returned to the starting rotation late in the year, he improved his numbers. However, in 9 starts, he had only 3 quality starts. One of those was a game he allowed 3 runs in 7.3 IP while allowing 11 hits and striking out only 3. His game score was over 50 only twice. He had a complete game shutout of the Royals, and held the Indians to no runs in 6.7 IP despite allowing ten men to reach base. In 60.7 IP, he let 90 men reach base (71 hits, 15 W, 4 HBP).

His 5.57 ERA on the year was actually better than it should be because he allowed 17 UER. If 91.6% of his RA were earned (as it was with the rest of the Sox pitchers), his ERA would be 5.86 & an ERA+ of 81. He was replacement level. He'll be 36 next year. Well, as far as we know he'll be that young.
   27. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: November 25, 2007 at 06:08 AM (#2624512)
I'm not going to sit here and argue that he isn't without his faults. The k/9 decline is worrisome. He's probably in his 40s.

But put him in a more friendly park and with some neutral luck, there's a a good chance that he can give you 180+ innings with an ERA around 4.00.

In 60.7 IP, he let 90 men reach base (71 hits, 15 W, 4 HBP).

His BABIP in those starts was .326. It's hard to be a good pitcher like that.
   28. KDub's CellPiece (BLtDH) Posted: November 25, 2007 at 07:16 AM (#2624525)
The k/9 decline is worrisome. He's probably in his 40s.


Two things...he could possibly be near 50 first. Secondly, having watched him pitch for the last 3 seasons, he seems to have almost completely lost it...I think the Sox would do just about anything to get rid of him including pick up a chunk of salary.
   29. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: November 25, 2007 at 07:59 AM (#2624538)
Russlan, as far as what the Sox would want... I'd imagine Williams is holding out for something decent, but if it were me, I'd give Contreras to the Mets for a couple of peanut shells so long as the Mets took on most of the contract (which really isn't terrible, especially if Contreras could give the Mets two average years -- two years, $20 million is what's left). I'd then take that money to sweeten a deal to Andruw Jones. That would leave the Sox extremely thin in the rotation with some combination of Danks/Floyd/Gonzalez/Egbert/Haeger/Broadway taking the last three spots. But I'd say there's a good shot that half of those guys matches Contreras' numbers of last year, so...
   30. Gambling Rent Czar Posted: November 28, 2007 at 08:46 PM (#2627335)
its a done deal ..

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