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Transaction Oracle
— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Friday, November 24, 2006

Two Texas Teams Lasso Leftfielders

Texas Rangers - Signed OF Frank Catalanotto to a 3-year, $13.5 million contract.

Houston Astros - Reportedly have signed OF Carlos Lee to a 6-year, $90 million contract.

Carlos Lee’s a better player, but if you’re telling me that, once you sign Frankie Cats, to make up the difference in value, you need to sign someone to a 3-year, $76.5 million contract, I’m calling you a liar.  For 6 years of Carlos Lee, you could get the 3 years of Catalanotto ($13.5), 2 years of Mussina ($22.5), 2 years of Frank Thomas ($18), with 36 million left over for a couple years of Bonds or whatever suits your fancy.

With Carlos Lee, we’re talking about a leftfielder who, in his career year, had an OPS+ of 125, and while once a good defender, has put on a ton of weight since then, lost most of his mobility and that ain’t twitchy fibrous weight he put on.  In other words, the Astros will be paying $15 million a year for the age 31-36 seasons of a player who’s never had a season as good as Tim Salmon’s average year (OPS+ of 129 with better defense).  A player who, in 2 years (or sooner!) might be a downgrade on Hunter Pence.  Seriously, raise your hands if you look at Carlos Lee and think “Wow, that guy’s totally going to age like a fine wine!”

The winner in all of this?  Walt Jocketty.  Right now, the rest of the Central consists of 3 teams who are spending money to see who can out-retard every one else, a team that would sorely love to be retarded but is too cheap to do so, and the Brewers.  Jocketty doesn’t need to re-tool the Cardinals - “Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Scott Rolen, and Try Not to Sign Someone Who Should Be In AA” is the winning strategy in the division.

Catalanotto is a solid signing for the Rangers in this market.  He needs a righty to take some of his time and he’s not the most durable, but considering $4 million is what a relatively unknown middle reliever goes for, it’s a bargain.  Objectively, he’s a better 4th outfielder than a starter, so the Rangers will still need more.

Alfonso Soriano is starting to look like a steal of a deal. 

2007 ZiPS Projection - Carlos Lee
———————————————————————————————————
          AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB   BA   OBP   SLG
———————————————————————————————————
Projection   600 89 173 34 0 28 99 49 98 13 .288 .347 .485
2008       569 77 160 31 0 21 83 41 92 11 .281 .333 .446
2009       535 68 146 27 0 16 69 37 90   9 .273 .324 .413
2010       482 61 130 25 0 14 61 33 81   6 .270 .322 .409
2011       439 54 117 24 0 12 53 30 74   4 .267 .322 .403      
2012       415 51 111 21 0 10 48 28 70   4 .267 .322 .390
———————————————————————————————————
Opt. (15%)  640 109 196 43 2 35 129 64 101 18 .306 .373 .544
Pes. (15%)  383 49 102 20 0 14 51 28 72   6 .266 .318 .428
———————————————————————————————————

 

2007 ZiPS Projection - Frank Catalanotto
———————————————————————————————————
          AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB   BA   OBP   SLG
———————————————————————————————————
Projection   388 48 113 31 2   5 52 40 42   0 .291 .366 .420
2008       321 38   88 22 1   4 42 32 40   0 .274 .353 .386      
2009       262 31   71 18 1   3 36 25 33   0 .271 .353 .382
———————————————————————————————————
Opt. (15%)  422 60 130 37 3   8 69 49 39   1 .308 .388 .467
Pes. (15%)  268 28   72 17 1   2 28 24 33   0 .269 .334 .362
———————————————————————————————————

 

 

Dan Szymborski Posted: November 24, 2006 at 07:45 PM | 81 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: November 24, 2006 at 08:56 PM (#2245073)
Don't count out the Brewers yet in the retard sweepstakes, Dan. They're still going hard after Dave Roberts and appear content to move Bill Hall to LF.
   2. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 24, 2006 at 09:05 PM (#2245080)
Don't count out the Brewers yet in the retard sweepstakes, Dan. They're still going hard after Dave Roberts and appear content to move Bill Hall to LF.


And this is a problem exactly why? If Roberts can be signed to a reasonable deal, the Brewers might be very well positioned.

-- MWE
   3. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: November 24, 2006 at 09:09 PM (#2245084)
Uh, I don't know if you've noticed, but Bill Hall can kinda play SS, and probably CF as well. Did I mention that he's already on the team?
   4. CraigK Posted: November 24, 2006 at 09:11 PM (#2245085)
And this is a problem exactly why? If Roberts can be signed to a reasonable deal, the Brewers might be very well positioned.

Because Bill Hall's bat at SS is worth much, much more than Bill Hall's bat in LF.
   5. Raskolnikov Posted: November 24, 2006 at 09:16 PM (#2245090)
Yeah, but the Brew already have Hardy and Weeks manning the middle IF.

I think Melvin should explore the trade market with Hall, but if not, LF is not an unreasonable option for Hall. Sadly, it would be like moving Yo-Yo Ma to the trombone section of the orchestra.
   6. baudib Posted: November 24, 2006 at 09:19 PM (#2245093)
I consider the Brewers a serious threat to win the NL Central.
   7. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: November 24, 2006 at 09:21 PM (#2245094)
Yeah, but the Brew already have Hardy and Weeks manning the middle IF.

But they don't have a center fielder...

LF is not an unreasonable option for Hall.

Yes, yes it is. It completely neuters his value.
   8. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 24, 2006 at 09:21 PM (#2245095)
Because Bill Hall's bat at SS is worth much, much more than Bill Hall's bat in LF.


Bill Hall's already in the lineup. The question is whether it's more important to Milwaukee to improve the offense or improve the defense. The Brewers - playing in what was essentially a neutral park - allowed 5.14 runs per game last year, which in context was only worse than Washington in the NL, and they have a lot of pitchers who absolutely have to have defensive support in order to succeed. Adding Roberts, and having Hardy back at SS, should make the defense better. Whether that's enough of a tradeoff to justify the lesser offense is an open question, but I don't think it's cut-and-dried.

-- MWE
   9. 1k5v3L Posted: November 24, 2006 at 09:29 PM (#2245099)
I'd rather have Scott Hairston than Carlos Lee in left field over the next six seasons.
   10. Evil Twin Posted: November 24, 2006 at 09:40 PM (#2245108)
I don't know if that's necessarily true. Sheets, Capuano, Bush, and Davis along with Cordero in the bullpen can absolutely succeed with only minor defensive improvements. If healthy, that's over 900 IP right there.

Plus, how much of a defensive upgrade is Hardy really at this stage of his career? He's solid, but I don't think anyone would confuse him with a Gold Glover. And, I think it's a dead solid lock that Hardy is a significant offensive downgrade over Jenkins/platoon mate in the lineup if Hall moves to leftfield.
   11. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 24, 2006 at 09:56 PM (#2245116)
Sheets, Capuano, Bush, and Davis along with Cordero in the bullpen can absolutely succeed with only minor defensive improvements.


Sheets and Capuano, I'll give you. The other three...none are big strikeout pitchers, and Bush and Davis in particular need defensive help. Capuano cut his walk rate in half last year, kept his strikeouts and HRs about the same, and still saw his RA and ERA rise (albeit not by much, you'd think the walk rate cut alone would have helped it go down rather than up) - he allowed more hits and had more errors behind him, which more than made up the difference, and that's what lack of defensive support does.

-- MWE
   12. Walt Davis Posted: November 24, 2006 at 10:06 PM (#2245124)
Seriously, raise your hands if you look at Carlos Lee and think "Wow, that guy's totally going to age like a fine wine!"

Well, his body's kinda shaped like a wine bottle. :-)

(So's mine but I'm in better shape at 45 than 35 so it's not impossible)

The only live baseball I saw last year was a Brewers game. A runner on first, double hit into the corner, I'm watching the OF pick up the ball then shift my eyes to the infield to see if the runners around third yet. Lee was about 1/3 of the way to 3B and I'd have sworn it was Cecil Fielder out there. He really has let himself go.

Dan, the power drops for Lee in 2008 and 2009 seem rather extreme. Where's that coming from? Is weight a factor in predicting aging patterns in ZIPS? Or does ZIPS not believe in power increases in the 30s? Or only for certain types of hitters?

Sorry if you've addressed this elsewhere, but can you give us some notion of how accurate these long-term projections are expected to be?
   13. Evil Twin Posted: November 24, 2006 at 10:24 PM (#2245137)
Sheets and Capuano, I'll give you. The other three...none are big strikeout pitchers, and Bush and Davis in particular need defensive help.


I think you're judging Bush and Davis on their stuff, more than their results. Both were in the top 31 for strikeouts in baseball last year, top 29 in K/9 for pitcher's who qualified for the ERA title. Davis's problem last year was that he walked too many. Bush hardly walked any.

And Cordero strikes out more than a batter an inning.
   14. Raskolnikov Posted: November 24, 2006 at 10:32 PM (#2245147)


But they don't have a center fielder...


Are you sure you want to entrust a newly minted OFer to CF? Sounds risky to me.
   15. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: November 24, 2006 at 11:25 PM (#2245186)
Are you sure you want to entrust a newly minted OFer to CF? Sounds risky to me.

Put it this way, I have a lot more confidence in Bill Hall's work ethic and athleticism than I do Dave Roberts' durability. I just don't see how anyone can think that Bill Hall in LF and Dave Roberts in CF is superior to a Kevin Mench/Gabe Gross platoon in LF and Bill Hall in CF, even before considering the money it's going to take to sign Roberts. I mean Christ, at least put Hall in RF to take advantage of his arm.
   16. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: November 24, 2006 at 11:32 PM (#2245195)
Also, I'm no Carlos Lee booster, but it does seem like his optimistic projection should have him with a bit more than 35 homers, unless the HR factor in Houston changed substantially; you had it at 1.16 last year.
   17. Juan V Posted: November 25, 2006 at 12:04 AM (#2245212)
SLGs in the low .400s starting in 2009. Ouch!
   18. Frisco Cali Posted: November 25, 2006 at 01:12 AM (#2245230)
Does all this put Corey Hart back on the bench 'til somebody gets hurt?
   19. The Hop-Clop Goes On (psa1) Posted: November 25, 2006 at 02:04 AM (#2245255)
Probably not. Corey Hart likely goes into the season as starting RF, perhaps with some starts going to Jenkins until/unless Jenks is traded.

Of course, that's a very risky proposition: hand two players, one good youngster and one bad veteran, to Ned Yost, trusting him to distribute playing time appropriately. I'd be surprised if Jenkins isn't dumped somewhere before opening day...one appealing salary dump idea that was floated late last season was Jenks for Benitez.
   20. 1k5v3L Posted: November 25, 2006 at 02:56 AM (#2245289)
The Brewers should have no problems trading Jenkins in this market, if they expect nothing in return. I really hope they don't screw up with Corey Hart any longer... they need a guy with sunglasses at night games...

Why are the Brewers looking for a centerfielder, by the way? Why not just try Jenkins there?
   21. The Hop-Clop Goes On (psa1) Posted: November 25, 2006 at 03:06 AM (#2245295)
I have no friggin' clue why the Brewers are looking for a CF. They've got Tony Gwynn Jr, who probably won't hit much, but is a defensive stud. They've got Brady Clark, who is coming off an off-year, but has better career numbers than Dave Roberts, and is younger, and is signed for $3.8M. Hell, Gabe Gross played some center. Corey Hart has played center.

Jenkins, though...I don't think he could hack it. According to Range, he was spectacular in 05...I don't have numbers for 06, but I'd bet the same was not true. Defensively, he may be the fourth or fifth, or even sixth best outfielder on the roster next year. He's one of those guys who has gotten a good rep because of his arm...and anymore that's about all he's got.
   22. DCW3 Posted: November 25, 2006 at 06:36 AM (#2245396)
Jocketty doesn't need to re-tool the Cardinals - "Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Scott Rolen, and Try Not to Sign Someone Who Should Be In AA" is the winning strategy in the division.

Sounds good, but given that Jocketty's team had So Taguchi and Aaron Miles in the starting lineup for much of last season, I'm not completely confident that he'll be able to pull off the last part of that strategy...
   23. Walt Davis Posted: November 25, 2006 at 07:26 AM (#2245409)
He's one of those guys who has gotten a good rep because of his arm

Oh, this is not true. The "advanced" defensive metrics tend to have him with outstanding range and numbers in LF for quite some time. Unless those numbers are dead wrong, the man was a true defensive stud. It could well be that age and/or injuries have taken their toll -- Dial did have him as average in RF this year. But for 7 years in LF, Dial has him as 13 RS/150 which is outstanding and the best in the NL over the last 20 years (both in rate and counting stats). In fact, here's what Chris wrote: "The top left fielder wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that routinely studies defense. Jenkins is a very good fielder."
   24. The Hop-Clop Goes On (psa1) Posted: November 25, 2006 at 07:38 AM (#2245412)
the man was a true defensive stud

Emphasis on "was." I should've been clearer: among the radio call-in show breed of Brewers fan, Jenkins has a great defensive rep, and that's because of the arm. Gun a few guys out at home plate, and you're loved forever.

I don't dispute that he was a true defensive stud. He wasn't this year. I don't know whether the shift to right was tough for him, or whether he got worse in the field because he was frustrated with his (not) hitting. But from an observational perspective, this wasn't an unlucky year, it was a bad year, and I think that's what we can expect going forward.
   25. William K. Posted: November 25, 2006 at 09:38 AM (#2245441)
I hope none of these teams that are overpaying will use their new acquisitions as an excuse to justify raising ticket prices.
   26. BobbyMac Posted: November 25, 2006 at 09:52 AM (#2245447)
re:
The winner in all of this? Walt Jocketty. Right now, the rest of the Central consists of 3 teams who are spending money to see who can out-retard every one else, a team that would sorely love to be retarded but is too cheap to do so, and the Brewers. Jocketty doesn't need to re-tool the Cardinals - "Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Scott Rolen, and Try Not to Sign Someone Who Should Be In AA" is the winning strategy in the division.

I agree that there are some questionable signings in this division, but here's STL's lineup:

C: Yady (should hit)
1b: Pujols (the best)
2b: who?
3b: Rolen
ss: Eck
lf: Duncan (brutal on defense. Can he keep hitting?)
cf: Edmonds/So (Jim is now worthless against LHP)
rf: Encarnacion
ph: Spiezio

sp: Carpenter
sp: Reyes
sp: Wainwright
sp: who?
sp: who?

cl: Isringhausen (Is he healthy? Is he good anymore at all?)
rrp: Hancock, Looper
lrp: (typical Duncan/LaRussa lefties - Johnson, Flores, etc.)

Sorry, but if Jocketty is going to build another 90+-win team this year, he's going to have to fill some serious holes, and IMO he's shown that his way of doing that is to budget $5MM/yr on Juan Encarnacion (.278/.317/.443), or to give a starting role to Aaron Miles (.263/.324/.347). This is the same team which traded away a "hot" prospect in order to upgrade from Danny Haren's $300k/yr salary to Mark Mulder's Millions. I think that even if STL gets 27 wins (over replacement) out of Pujols/Carpenter/Rolen, they will be hard-pressed to contend in the Central, barring some serious over-spending.
   27. Dr. Vaux Posted: November 25, 2006 at 11:26 AM (#2245454)
Who are they competing against? The Cubs? The Reds? The Carlos Lee, Roy Oswalt and craps?

The Brewers, yes, but it's a two-team race.
   28. dugaton Posted: November 25, 2006 at 12:15 PM (#2245456)
budget $5MM/yr on Juan Encarnacion (.278/.317/.443)


I'm just wondering if Catt's a bargain for three years/15mil .780/.740/.720 seasons, is Encarnacion not now a better bargain at 1year/5 million for even if he repeats last year a .750 OPS year.
   29. Johnny Tuttle Posted: November 25, 2006 at 01:42 PM (#2245459)
Count me in as another who thinks the Brewers don't need Dave Roberts.

However, far be it for me to begrudge that team of all others the pursuit of a meaningful, good FA.
   30. NBarnes Posted: November 25, 2006 at 01:47 PM (#2245460)
I don't think that anybody is arguing that the Cardinals are a strong team, especially one with any depth at all. Szymborski's point is fairly obviously that not sucking + Pujols, Rolen, and Carpenter == better than Houston, Cincinnati, and Chicago. I don't think St. Louis is 'hard pressed to compete in the Central' at all. The only other team run by non-idiots is Milwaukee; much will depend on how well the Brewer's young talent gels this year. If Milwaukee has more teething pains, it's not easy for St. Louis, but it's a lot easier than it is for Chicago, and probably easier than it is for Houston.

Also, dugaton in 29 makes a quite reasonable point that sneering at Encarnacion as a one-year stopgap for $5 is a little unfair. It's not the cheapest or most inspired dumpster-dive in baseball history, but it's far from the worst. LA and Anaheim will regret their new outfielders sooner and longer than St. Louis will even remember that Encarnacion played for them.
   31. Quinton McCracken's BFF Posted: November 25, 2006 at 02:57 PM (#2245478)
Sorry, but if Jocketty is going to build another 90+-win team this year...

If you're referring to last year, he missed the mark by 7.
   32. Hurdle's Heroes (SuperBaes) Posted: November 25, 2006 at 05:23 PM (#2245567)
I see no reason to count the Pirates out in a pathetic, pathetic division. But then, what do we know? 83 wins can get a World Series win, right?
   33. this space for rent Posted: November 25, 2006 at 08:57 PM (#2245676)
The Carlos Lee, Roy Oswalt and craps?

Um, hello? Remember me? Can't a guy get a little respect anywhere?
   34. Cowboy Popup Posted: November 25, 2006 at 09:08 PM (#2245679)
Why don't the Brewers put Weeks in left or center and let Hall play 2nd. I don't think I ever watched the Brewers this year, but IIRC, Weeks can't field well at all, and Hardy can hold his own at SS. If you're stuck with the lineup you have, giving Weeks a shot in the OF, while limiting his value in the future could help shore up the defense for this year, when they have a decent shot at making the playoffs.
   35. Russ Posted: November 25, 2006 at 09:14 PM (#2245682)
I see no reason to count the Pirates out in a pathetic, pathetic division.

They still don't have a legitimate corner outfielder/first baseman (wherever you don't put Xavier Nady). Actually are pretty much lacking at both positions no matter where you put Nady. Chris Duffy is a huge question mark in centerfield and they have somehow managed to take a decent player like Nate McLouth and make me question whether Nate can even be a fourth OF/PH/PR, let alone a part-time starter.

They also have a pretty large hole up the middle with Jack Wilson and the rotting carcass of Jose Castillo. They'll be lucky to be above average at three positions (left field, 3rd base, and catcher -- and that assumes that Paulino and Sanchez are able to repeat their breakout performances next year). The team will definitely be below average at three positions (2b, 1b, and rf). I think that CF and SS could go either way (depending on what they do with Wilson/Sanchez at SS and depending on Duffy in CF).

The pitching could be pretty fun to watch (especially if we end up with a glove guy at RF and 2b), but the Pirates will (again) be lucky to break 75 wins.

The best part about the 2007 season for the Pirates will be McCutcheon coming up in September... other than that, another long year for Bucco abusees... er... supporters.
   36. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: November 25, 2006 at 10:57 PM (#2245724)
IIRC, Weeks can't field well at all, and Hardy can hold his own at SS.

Weeks improved vastly as the season went on. That said, I'd certainly be in favor of trying Weeks in CF if that's what it takes to get Bill Hall out of LF. Also, I think Hardy is a little better afield than you're giving him credit for.
   37. GEB4000 Posted: November 26, 2006 at 04:29 AM (#2245833)
We know nobody in the Astros front office knows about baseball-reference.com if not the internet in general. Looking at the comps list we see Lee closest comp for the last three years is George Bell (retired at age 33)! One through five of the comps list through age thirty: George Bell, Kent Hrbek (retired at 34), Raul Mondesi (retired at 34), Paul Konerko (same age as Lee), and Reggie Smith (last season of more than 400 PA age 33).
I see a dead weight contract in the Astros future.
   38. Phenomenal Smith Posted: November 26, 2006 at 05:58 AM (#2245865)
The only other team run by non-idiots is Milwaukee; much will depend on how well the Brewer's young talent gels this year.

So, a team that's had one losing season since 1992 and made the playoffs in 6 of the last 10 years is run by idiots?
   39. stubbyc Posted: November 27, 2006 at 12:47 AM (#2246197)
We know nobody in the Astros front office knows about baseball-reference.com if not the internet in general.

This site is really deteriorating.
   40. NBarnes Posted: November 27, 2006 at 05:17 AM (#2246306)
It's the Carlos Lee contract thread, 39, so Houston's front office gets extra disses. You're technically correct that they've been running a tolerably effective team over there for a while now. Also, Lee is likely to be solid, if not worth his contract next year, so it's entirely possible that next year's NL Central champ is a Texas team. But the long term impact of this contract augurs poorly for Houston's sustained success.
   41. Benny Distefano's Mitt Posted: November 27, 2006 at 05:21 PM (#2246515)
I'm concerned about the amount of money Lee signed for, but he's very likely to outperform the Zips. At least at first. He's been a good, durable consistent slugger for eight years, and he's (hopefully) entering his prime. He won't be a Silver Slugger, but anything less than 105 RC each of the next three years is probably a little pessimistic. Minute Maid's Little League leftfield porch is custom-made for power-hitting righties.

The last two years of Lee's contract will likely be brutal when his gut will cause too much friction on his arms for his swing to be effective. But for the next three years the Astros have a nice bat in the lineup. And, really, that's what's most important for Houston's anemic lineup.
   42. kwarren Posted: November 22, 2007 at 02:07 AM (#2623113)
v3L) Posted: November 24, 2006 at 03:29 PM (#2245099)
I'd rather have Scott Hairston than Carlos Lee in left field over the next six seasons.



And how did the first season go with ???
   43. BeanoCook Posted: November 22, 2007 at 02:09 AM (#2623116)
Geez, waiting that out for a full year.......get a life.
   44. The Keith Law Blog Blah Blah (battlekow) Posted: November 22, 2007 at 03:26 AM (#2623140)
I don't remember any of these posts.
   45. AJMcCringleberry Posted: November 22, 2007 at 05:51 AM (#2623195)
Scott Hairston: 94 OPS+, good defense, 400K

Carlos Lee: 126 OPS+, terrible defense, $11.5 mil

I'll take Hairston.
   46. DCW3 Posted: November 22, 2007 at 06:28 AM (#2623203)
What amuses me is that Lee had the best offensive season of his career in 2007, provided everything the Astros could have reasonably hoped for when they signed him...and he still wasn't even close to being worth his contract.
   47. shoewizard Posted: November 22, 2007 at 06:35 AM (#2623207)
Still 5 years to go in that particular prognostication. If actually given a full time job, and not just a "place holder" position, I think Hairston would relax enough to do his thing. I'm still of the opinion he can be a very productive hitter. And Towers has talked about using him in Centerfield next year. So he just may get 500 at bats. If he does, he'll put up the numbers.
   48. 1k5v3L Posted: November 22, 2007 at 06:52 AM (#2623213)
Those six years flew by so fast... I must've slept through 5 of them.
   49. BeanoCook Posted: November 22, 2007 at 06:55 AM (#2623214)
Scott Hairston: 94 OPS+, good defense, 400K

Carlos Lee: 126 OPS+, terrible defense, $11.5 mil

I'll take Hairston.


At some point you have to win games. This isn't a contest to get the most per dollar, if it was, yes, every younger, cheaper player would win.
   50. rfloh Posted: November 22, 2007 at 07:15 AM (#2623218)
#50

And how many games did Houston win with Lee's abominable defense?
   51. AJMcCringleberry Posted: November 22, 2007 at 04:56 PM (#2623358)
At some point you have to win games. This isn't a contest to get the most per dollar, if it was, yes, every younger, cheaper player would win.

Do you know that they could spend the extra money on other players?
   52. BDC Posted: November 22, 2007 at 05:06 PM (#2623369)
he still wasn't even close to being worth his contract

I think to some extent we are suffering from future shock with regard to salaries. In the current market $11.5M doesn't look bad for .303 32 119 (.354/.528); such players are not going to come cheap -- though naturally the long-term prospect for the contract to be a millstone is still good.
   53. Gaelan Posted: November 22, 2007 at 05:06 PM (#2623370)
Do you know that they could spend the extra money on other players?


That's a tautological argument. They did spend the extra money on other players--they spent it on Carlos Lee.

Beano is right. Until the Lee signing costs the Astros in their chance to sign another player the money is irrelevant. Based upon performance Lee clearly made the Astros a much better team.
   54. Lassus Posted: November 22, 2007 at 05:34 PM (#2623380)
I kind of love the thought of Orlando di Lasso in Texas.

Get it done, Hiro!
   55. shoewizard Posted: November 22, 2007 at 06:07 PM (#2623394)
That's a tautological argument. They did spend the extra money on other players--they spent it on Carlos Lee.

Beano is right. Until the Lee signing costs the Astros in their chance to sign another player the money is irrelevant. Based upon performance Lee clearly made the Astros a much better team.


Houston :

2006 82-80
2007 73-89

Yes...signing Carlos Lee was clearly the best allocation of resources to "improve" that team.
   56. Valentine Posted: November 22, 2007 at 06:49 PM (#2623421)
The real question with Lee is not the $$$ but his defense. BP rates him as being -15 to -20 runs below average in left field. Zone Rating portrays him as "poor" but not ridiculously so. Dewan seems him as being a little below average.

It is fair to argue that the Astros would be better served by a superior defensive player, but BP is the only metric that makes him out to be a true liability in the field.
   57. Gaelan Posted: November 22, 2007 at 06:52 PM (#2623425)
Houston :

2006 82-80
2007 73-89

Yes...signing Carlos Lee was clearly the best allocation of resources to "improve" that team.


That's not an argument at all. Where should they have spent the money? Lugo? Drew? Mathews? Pierre? Zito? Lilly and Meche might have been more valuable than Lee, I'm not sure. But even that comparison is unfair to the Astros because the free agent market isn't a store. There is only one of each product and you don't get to make the decisions. It is entirely possible to enter the free agent store and leave with nothing but cash in your hand. If that happens either you already have a good team or your sunk before the season even started.

In the free agent market the number of dollars you spend doesn't matter that much. What matters more than anything else is whether the guy is actually good. In this regard Carlos Lee is good signing while Juan Pierre is a bad signing. The second thing is whether/when it will hamstring you in the future? For most teams that worry is overblown. Generally speaking the teams that win in the free agent market are the teams that sign players since it is those teams that get better and those teams that win more games.
   58. SouthSideRyan Posted: November 22, 2007 at 06:54 PM (#2623427)
Yes...signing Carlos Lee was clearly the best allocation of resources to "improve" that team.


Unless Lee physically removed the lineup card from Garner's hand, he couldn't help much.
   59. rfloh Posted: November 22, 2007 at 07:01 PM (#2623433)
#57

Err, ZR, converted into runs had him at -21. RZR, converted into runs, -21. UZR had him as 3rd worst in the NL at -18.
   60. rfloh Posted: November 22, 2007 at 07:01 PM (#2623434)
#60

RZR -20.
   61. Valentine Posted: November 22, 2007 at 07:03 PM (#2623436)
Where should they have spent the money? Lugo? Drew? Mathews? Pierre? Zito?


Let's throw out a few ideas....

(1) Daisuke Matsuzaka
(2) Rick Porcello (with the draft pick they gave up to sign Lee)
(3) International scouting
(4) Save the pennies until somebody better comes along the next year or the year after

Was Carlos Lee the missing link that vaulted the Astros into contention? If not, then his 2007 salary was in some sense wasted money even if it made them a less-crappy team than they would have been otherwise.
   62. Valentine Posted: November 22, 2007 at 07:05 PM (#2623439)
Thanks, rfloh. Guess I was underestimating the conversion rate. What formula are you using?
   63. shoewizard Posted: November 22, 2007 at 07:10 PM (#2623442)
There are two points here I guess.

The first, being the reason this thread was pulled up in the first place....to "taunt" Levski over an opinion he stated over the LONG TERM value of Hairston vs. Lee. Since only one year of the 6 year period that Levski alluded to has elapsed.....it's kind of silly to start the taunting NOW.

The second part....whether or not Lee was a good signing for the Astros or made them a better team....well...I guess we can argue all day long. The bottom line is their offense did not score more runs, and their team did not win more games. And this despite getting all they could have hoped for out of Lee. To me, that is a pretty strong indication that they went in the wrong direction, and did not properly address the needs of their team. They just didn't have a good plan. If you want to challenge me to come up with a better plan they could have executed, well.....I'm not their GM, and I am not privy to all of the information. Like most of us on this site...in my heart of hearts I probably believe I could have come up with a better plan...and I am probably pretty delusional. :-)
   64. rfloh Posted: November 22, 2007 at 07:10 PM (#2623443)
#63

Not me. AROM posted his conversion recently. It's here. He's using Dial's methodology.
   65. Dan The Mediocre Posted: November 22, 2007 at 07:14 PM (#2623445)
The bottom line is their offense did not score more runs, and their team did not win more games.


That assumes that the Astros thought they could win now, which would be a crazy thing to think. They may believe it's worth paying Lee for a couple years then contend again when they've had the chance to retool.

Not saying that the Lee signing was good, but that only addresses one possible view of this deal.
   66. shoewizard Posted: November 22, 2007 at 07:21 PM (#2623453)
I find it hard to believe that they signed Lee to "hold them over"...(I think that is what you are saying) until they can contend again in a few years. If that is the case,...then their plan sucks even worse than in the first scenario.
   67. BeanoCook Posted: November 22, 2007 at 07:32 PM (#2623462)
Not to say there is no room for making smart financial decisions or that this particular Lee deal is good or bad.

I would love to see the rosters that some of the people at BBTF would assemble. The payroll would be $30 million and your team would win 70-80 games and likely would lead the league in wins per dollar.

so what.

There are many factors in signing a star to a big contract. One of which is trying to provide your fans with something to cheer for. Yes, this does matter. Because if the product on the field is utterly unwatchable during this 'rebuilding' then you may have just cost yourself millions in revenue and long term brand building.
   68. Gaelan Posted: November 22, 2007 at 07:56 PM (#2623468)
In the present a signing is a bad signing if, and only if, the player was placed on waivers and nobody wanted him. I submit that this is not anywhere near the case with Carlos Lee. Carlos Lee has positive trade value therefore, by definition, the signing was not a bad signing.
   69. The District Attorney Posted: November 22, 2007 at 08:00 PM (#2623469)
Generally speaking the teams that win in the free agent market are the teams that sign players since it is those teams that get better and those teams that win more games.
I think one would actually have a hell of a time proving that this was true.
   70. J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: November 22, 2007 at 08:40 PM (#2623473)
I would love to see the rosters that some of the people at BBTF would assemble. The payroll would be $30 million and your team would win 70-80 games and likely would lead the league in wins per dollar.

And they would cruelly deprive the local fans of the future joy of watching a 35-year-old, 280-pound Carlos Lee waddling around left field in the Juice Box.
   71. 1k5v3L Posted: November 22, 2007 at 08:46 PM (#2623476)
Btw, I'll go one step farther:

I'd rather have a 50 gallon garbage can in LF over the next 5 years than Carlos Lee.
   72. shoewizard Posted: November 23, 2007 at 02:24 AM (#2623551)
I would love to see the rosters that some of the people at BBTF would assemble. The payroll would be $30 million and your team would win 70-80 games and likely would lead the league in wins per dollar.

I find this a gross strawman. I don't think anyone here is advocating cutting the Astros payroll below what it was in 2007. What we are saying is the money could have been put to better use.

OTOH...if the Astros were a legit bet to win 88 games without Lee, and they paid that much for him to put them over the 90 win mark and give them a great shot at the playoffs...it would be money well spent. But they weren't that prior to the signing, and nobody should have thought that they were.
   73. AJMcCringleberry Posted: November 23, 2007 at 03:31 AM (#2623571)
I don't think anyone here is advocating cutting the Astros payroll below what it was in 2007. What we are saying is the money could have been put to better use.

Exactly.

Catalanotto: $3.5 mil
Lilly: $6 mil
Iwamura: $1.8 mil

They would've helped the Astros more than Lee this year. And you don't have to worry about paying them $18.5 million in 2012.
   74. Gaelan Posted: November 23, 2007 at 04:19 AM (#2623591)
Exactly.

Catalanotto: $3.5 mil
Lilly: $6 mil
Iwamura: $1.8 mil

They would've helped the Astros more than Lee this year. And you don't have to worry about paying them $18.5 million in 2012.


This is both wrong and dishonest. It's dishonest because the Astros didn't have the choice to sign those players at those prices. It may not have been possible to sign them at all and to the extent that it was it certainly would have cost more money.

It's wrong because it's not clear that these guys would improve the Astros. Of the three only Lilly is good enough to play for the Astros. Iwamura would have been a redundant bench player and Catalanatto is a huge downgrade from Lee. Now swapping out Lilly for Lee would have been a good move but I already said as much. But that just proves that Lee wasn't the best signing of the offseason not that it wasn't a good one. Only one team gets to sign Lilly. Once he's off the table is everyone else supposed to go home?

It's indicative of the ignorant mindset around here that people are criticizing this move in retrospect since, on the basis of the evidence so far, it is a slamdunk win for the Astros.
   75. shoewizard Posted: November 23, 2007 at 04:27 AM (#2623595)
Uh...Gaelan...when you start throwing around words like "dishonest" and "ignorant" to describe fellow posters and their "mindsets" there really is not much point in continuing a discussion with you.
   76. Gaelan Posted: November 23, 2007 at 04:46 AM (#2623606)
Yeah, I take back the ignorant comment. That was unnecessary. However the argument was intellectually dishonest. I stand by that claim.
   77. shoewizard Posted: November 23, 2007 at 04:54 AM (#2623608)
Retraction duly noted. I really should let AJM respond for himself on his "intellectual dishonesty"....(Whenever I see that phrase, I just insert the word "bull sh......t" cuz to me it means the same thing) But I think he was trying to give an example of the TYPE of players the Astros might have targeted......or maybe he meant those exact players...I don't know.
   78. BeanoCook Posted: November 23, 2007 at 04:57 AM (#2623613)
Exactly.

Catalanotto: $3.5 mil
Lilly: $6 mil
Iwamura: $1.8 mil

They would've helped the Astros more than Lee this year. And you don't have to worry about paying them $18.5 million in 2012.


I agree that all of this hindsight talk is a waste of time and there is an arrogance by many that think every dollar is misused by every team in nearly every transaction.

What everyone forgets is that the World Series Champion in 2006 was an 83 win team in the NL Central. While the 2006 Astros had 82 wins. There was no reason to "throw in the towel" on 2007, just because A) the Astros were not a 90-win team (correct) or B) the Astros were likely to regress from 2006 to 2007.

The NL Central was and remains very mediocre and landing Lee in 2007 was a good attempt at winning in 2007. If I was a fan of Houston, that is what I would want. Lee still holds his value, you can trade him in 2008 if you feel you need to rebuild. He remains an asset.
   79. AJMcCringleberry Posted: November 23, 2007 at 06:26 AM (#2623627)
Iwamura would have been a redundant bench player

I don't know about that, it seems like he would've improved their second or third base situations.

But I think he was trying to give an example of the TYPE of players the Astros might have targeted......or maybe he meant those exact players...I don't know.

Yeah, I was just using those three as an example of another way to spend 11 million. Presumably there were other players they could've gotten instead of the ones I mentioned.


I don't think this is hindsight. It seemed pretty bad when he signed it and, as DCW said, Lee has performed about as well as you could've expected and he's still not worth it.
   80. Valentine Posted: November 23, 2007 at 03:53 PM (#2623703)
Carlos Lee has positive trade value therefore, by definition, the signing was not a bad signing.

Don't forget the draft pick compensation. If you can't trade Carlos Lee for Rick Porcello, then you might have been better off keeping your pick and spending the $$$ on a signing bonus.

It's indicative of the ignorant mindset around here that people are criticizing this move in retrospect since, on the basis of the evidence so far, it is a slamdunk win for the Astros.

Rightly or wrongly, I criticized the deal the day it was announced. Thus far I don't see anything to make me change my fundamental opinion. Most free agent deals are a plus in the early years and a minus in the later years. That makes sense if you are contending in the immediate present (let the future watch out for itself!), but not if the "good" years are wasted on seasons that are a lost cause from day one... If you look at the deals in a vacuum you would think the Lee signing was better than the Drew signing -- but the Red Sox would have had a very hard time winning the World Series with their in-system alternatives, while the Astros wouldn't have been noticeably worse without Lee. Does anybody really care whether they win 73 or 71 games?

What everyone forgets is that the World Series Champion in 2006 was an 83 win team in the NL Central. While the 2006 Astros had 82 wins.

That is a good point. BP projected the Astros to win 81 games, the Brewers/Cubs to win 85-86 games. That is close enough that Houston might reasonably hope to beat their projections or get lucky and win the thing. I agree that the signing makes sense for a team that expects to be in contention over the next 2-3 years. The #17 draft pick isn't likely to contribute much during that time frame.

Let me also note that Carlos Lee began his career as an infielder. He very likely would have greater (i.e. non-negative) defensive value at first base than in left field.

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