Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Word About Value - Pt. I

Sentiments do not win games. History does not strikeout batters. A name can't hit a home run. Sure, some of the above can tip the odds in your favor, and in baseball, it's all about the odds. But only numbers, and their associate meanings, can truly provide a forecast into a player's potential in the coming seasons. Every offseason, this fact seems to be lost on General Managers and team owners. Everyone throws sick money at mediocre players. I know it's a crazy market out there, and you have to compete with rich teams, so you have to overpay. But if it's between not having Barry Zito, and paying Barry $18 million a year over seven years, you go with not having Barry. Andruw Jones is another good lesson as well. This year, we're going to look at some free agents and decide how much they're really worth. I'm not going to pick the top agents, but I'll look at some ones that managers might not be able to restrain themselves with. We'll follow this up with some more in a few more days.

1) Mark Teixeira - 1B. Age: 28. 2008 Salary: $12.5 Million.
2008 Stats: 33 HR, 12 RBI, 97 BB, .308 AVG, .410 OBP, .552 SLG.
Let me just start by saying this -- here is one dude you cannot overpay for. He's a switch hitter. He's a solid defender at first. He is a masher. He is, by all accounts, a good guy. He is, for the most part, the model of consistency. If you get Tex on a bad year, he goes .300, 30 HR, 110 RBI. And the dude is about to turn 29. It seems to me like you could lock him up easy for about $15 million, 5-7 years. That would be the low end, but I can see him going for a little more.

2) CC Sabathia - P. Age: 28. 2008 Salary: $11 Million.
2008 Stats: 2.70 ERA, 17-10, 251 K's, 1.11 WHIP, .237 BAA, 253 IP.
Someone is going to get burned on this guy. Sure, Sabathia went nuts this year. You might be curious to know, however, that this is the first sub-3.00 ERA year for CC. By comparison, go-to stunner Jake Peavy, with seven years under his belt (one fewer than CC,) has four sub-3.00 ERA years. Everyone has this perception that CC is horse; however, he has only gone above 200 IP twice; in 2007, he goes 241, and in 2008, 253. And, if history tells us anything, it's that you can't make a pitcher pitch forever without his arm falling off at some point. (A.J. Burnett is also relevant here). CC simply cannot keep up that pace. He is still a good pitcher, but I don't think we're dealing with a Roger Clemens here. Remember, Sabathia relies totally on power, and power pitchers do not age well. Clemens and Randy are exceptions, because they are freaks. I think it would be fair to give the Kid 5 years at $15 million. And I guarantee you he will get more.

3) A.J. Burnett - P. Age: 31. 2008 Salary: $13.2 Million.
2008 Stats: 4.07 ERA, 18-10, 231 K's, 1.34 WHIP, .249 BAA, 221 IP.
I love A.J. Really, I do. But mark my words -- this guy is going to be the bust of the year. And that's saying a lot, looking at the free agents on the market this year. Someone might end up overpaying for Milton Bradley or Rafael Furcal. The Jays paid dearly for Burnett and he burned them bad. Get this: Burnett lands on the Jays roster in 2006, and makes $2.2 Million. He goes 10-8, starting in only 21 games. 3.98 ERA. What does he get in return? Two years, $13.2 million a year. More of the same in 2007 and 2008, but without the injuries in 2008. You think it's a coincidence that A.J. felt fine during his contract year? That's another thing that bugs me about Burnett; dude is always hurting. I used to know how many times he had been on the DL, but I can't keep track anymore. It's easily above 12. While he was in Toronto, there were rumors that he wasn't quite as hurt as he was claiming. As in, the GM publicly said that "he's going to have to pitch through some pain, or realize what the difference is between being hurt and really being hurt." And that's the worst thing people can be saying about you.

As ESPN notes, "The bigger concern with Burnett is what version of Burnett you're actually getting... he performs better when the pressure is off." Couldn't have said it better myself. His stuff is filthy. And if you watch him pitch five innings, you would think he was the second coming of Feller. But then you watch him for the sixth, and you have to rub your eyes to make sure it's the same guy. He always gives in to the big inning, and you never know what inning it's going to be. The result is some year-end numbers that aren't so awesome. He has a lot of arm and shoulder problems, and this is what usually throws him on the DL. So he is really a grab bag of problems. Sign him for $10 million and 3 years, and next time he goes on the DL, bring him off as a closer. PS - he's a power pitcher, and he's already 31. Say it with me...

One more note: It's the offseason, so there isn't a whole lot more to write about. I am working on finishing the transfer of all the material from the old site, dating back to 2004... I'm up to June 2006. So warm your hands over that material. Seriously, the archives are some of the funniest things you will ever read. This will get you started:
Congratulations, Washington - April 13, 2007

If Someone Handed you $15 Million... - May 2, 2008
Labels: Andruw Jones - Various
Labels: Mark Prior - Various
A.J. Burnett Keeps Coming Up... - July 6, 2007