Friday, May 16, 2014

Hanley Ramirez Not Worth $25m Per

Recent reports have surfaced that the Dodgers are looking to extend Hanley Ramirez, who will become a free agent after the 2014 season.  And that's reasonable.  When he plays, Ramirez is a plus shortstop, particularly on the offensive end.  But the numbers that are being floated show just how nuts the landscape of baseball has become and how little some general managers view durability.  Now, who knows whether the floated numbers are accurate, i.e. looking for a $130 to $153 million dollar deal that could be in the range of $25 million dollars per season.  They seem way out of line for us.  And here's why.

Hanley Ramirez doesn't play often enough.  Two out of the last three season, Ramirez did not reach 600 plate appearances.  And no matter how good you are, if you're not on the field, you do not help your team win.  In fact, it may be just the opposite, spending money that could be allocated somewhere else that would be on the field.  Now the Dodgers are afloat with money, so maybe the normal metrics of paying value and using up payroll space for another player don't apply.  But, ... they probably will at some point.

Look, let's be honest.  We don't see Ramirez as a plus player any longer.  He's barely been above good starter territory and nowhere near All-Star caliber.  Why do we say that?  The last time Haney was a player who should have a $25m per year discussion attached to him was in 2009, when he had had three straight All-Star caliber, best shortstop in baseball, type of years, reaching 23.588 PEVA rating points.  He had had four straight years of over 650 plate appearances.

How's he been since then.

2010     12.754 PEVA, 619 PA
2011       2.996 PEVA, 387 PA
2012     10.374 PEVA, 667 PA
2013     10.989 PEVA, 336 PA

And the first six weeks of 2014 has him at an OPS of 0.772, right in line with those years, except for last.  What we're starting to see is a ping pong of an elite player sliding down.  No longer the base stealing threat he once was and difficult to stay on the field.  At 31 years of age by the end of 2014, a contract longer than three years does not make club sense, and any discussion of a contract in the neighborhood of $25 million per year, or $20 million per year, or $15 million per year will likely not work out.  Now he's going to get one in one of those regions.  Chase Utley got one in the lower stratosphere at an older age, but ask yourself, do you really think Hanley Ramirez is better than Chase Utley at this point in time.  Who would you rather have on your team, if, and we know that's a big if, they stayed healthy?  And why would you pay one player a multiple of the other just to find out?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Who, What, When About This Year's HOF Class

The candidates have just been announced and the list if chock full of potential Hall of Fame inductees, both within the cadre of new nominees, just off their five year waiting list, and leftover candidates, some in their last year, and more than a few with PED problems, who will vie for the 75% of votes needed for election.  So how would we approach this?  How will the baseball writers who actually vote?  Well, we know the former and can guess at the latter.  Here goes.

As those who've read our ideas on Hall of Fame election in the past know, we're very selective and judicious about the amount of players we think should be in.  We'd likely get rid of a few already there, if that was possible or you could go back in time.  But you can't.  So for us, we only want new Hall of Famers who would be in the Top Half of their position values and only want up to three new inductees per year.  We think two is optimal and there should always be one.  So last year, yes, we would have selected somebody, who in a year like this year might not get in.

Let's go down the list (alphabetically).

Moises Alou - Good player, deserves to be on the list his first year and we think he should remain there for another go around.  But, it's a good possibility he doesn't get the 5% votes required to remain.  Not a HOF player to us.

Jeff Bagwell - As stated in last year's post, we think Bagwell is a HOF player and should eventually get in.  We'd have voted for him last year.  293.606 PEVA points, above the 275.000 threshold where everybody eligible above that, without major PED allegations, is in.  There might be a slight rub there with voters, but no real accusations. But this year there's too many great candidates, and he won't get our vote this year.

Armando Benitez - Should not be on the ballot.

Craig Biggio - Over 3,000 hits says he's going to get in sometime and maybe that time's this year.  Again, too many candidates above him this year for us, but we'll eventually vote for him when the list is lighter. With 226.358 PEVA points, he'd be the #6 rated 2nd baseman in the Hall, even though we know he wasn't always at that position.

Barry Bonds - Second best position player in the PEVA rankings and we do think he'd be in the Hall without taking steroids and augmenting his stats.  No vote from us this year.  Might in the future.

Sean Casey - Should not be on the ballot.

Roger Clemens - See Bonds above, except he's ranked #3 in the pitching PEVA rankings.

Ray Durham - Should not be on the ballot.

Eric Gagne - Should not be on the ballot, even though he had two of the top 10 relief pitching seasons ever.  Not enough of them.

Tom Glavine - WE WOULD VOTE FOR HIM.  Over 300 wins, over 275 PEVA (325.047), and ranked #12 All-Time.

Luis Gonzalez - Better stats than you'd think without looking them up, and nearly 200 PEVA points.  But as an outfielder, that's way down the line and near the bottom of those in the Hall.  Despite those 2591 hits, 354 home runs, 1439 runs batted in, we don't think Gonzalez should ever get in.  But he should remain on the ballot.

Jacque Jones - Should not be on the ballot.

Todd Jones - Should not be on the ballot.

Jeff Kent - Most home runs ever by a 2nd baseman.  He'd be #8 All-Time among Hall of Fame players in PEVA as a 2nd baseman if he got in.  Don't think he'll get in this year; we wouldn't vote for him right now.  But eventually we think he gets in.

Paul Lo Duca - Should not be on the ballot.

Greg Maddux - No doubt about it Hall of Fame player.  Ranked #1 in PEVA pitcher points.  Two of the best seasons of All-Time.  WE WOULD VOTE FOR HIM.  All of the baseball writers should, too, but not all will.  But it will be in the very high 95% plus range.

Edgar Martinez - Just below Molitor in the DH rankings, but he is below.  Not quite good enough, to us, to be in the Hall.

Don Mattingly - Very good player, just not quite good enough for us, to make the Hall.

Fred McGriff - There are 19 first baseman in the Hall of Fame now; McGriff would rank #10 if he got in, which is right on the cut line for us.  Not this year, but we can see a year when we'd be okay with it.

Mark McGwire - See Bonds above, but add one important fact.  We don't think McGwire would have the stats to get in if he hadn't used.  So he shouldn't in.

Jack Morris - Last year for Jack on the regular ballot.  Some think he'll get in because of that.  He's in the middle of the pack, #34 of #63 if he got in.  We wouldn't put Jack in, but it's close.

Mike Mussina - Mike ranks high in PEVA value, above the 275 threshold, but because of the quality of this year's candidates, we won't vote for him this year.  But we would in the future, and he should get in.

Hideo Nomo - Should not be on the ballot.

Rafael Palmeiro - See Mark McGwire.

Mike Piazza - A bit like Jeff Bagwell to us, but would rank even higher, Top 3, All-Time, in HOF catchers, if in.  Not voting for Mike this year, but do think he will eventually get in, but not this year.

Tim Raines - Not quite good enough for us.

Kenny Rogers - Should not be on the ballot.

Curt Schilling - We would have voted for Schilling last year, but he's behind Maddux and Glavine, so not this year.

Richie Sexson - Should not be on the ballot.

Lee Smith - If you are of the belief that specialties should give you special consideration, and lower thresholds, then you probably think Smith deserves consideration.  If you think he was better than Sutter, then you probably think he should be in.  We don't think Sutter should be in.  No from us.

J.T. Snow - Should not be on the ballot.

Sammy Sosa - See Mark McGwire.

Frank Thomas - WE WOULD VOTE FOR HIM.  The Big Hurt.  2468 hits, 521 home runs, 1704 runs batted in, 0.301 batting average, 333.924 PEVA, #28 All-Time among Position Players.

Mike Timlin - Should not be on the ballot.

Alan Trammell - He'd be #11 of #23 in the Hall of Fame among shortstops.  Using our rule of above half already in the Hall, he should get in.  But not this year.

Larry Walker - Not good enough for us.   

Okay, there you have it, for whatever little it may be worth.  It will be interesting to see how things roll out.  Some are predicting a very large class.  We wouldn't be surprised if the three we'd vote for would be the only three who get in though.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Why Not Kyle Lohse?

Kyle Lohse is the only major free agent player left on the free agent market, unless you count Jose Valverde, which maybe or maybe not you should.  Just where oh where will he end up and why is it taking this long.  That is the question on spring training minds.  Why not Kyle Lohse?  Why is he being frozen out of the major free agent market.  Well, there's lots of stories about why and most center around the new collective bargaining agreement and being a player who was offered arbitration at $13.3m and declined it.  Seemed like a good idea at the time and could be about the amount Lohse signs for for one year, with a caveat that next year it won't be offered.  So teams are unwilling to pony up a contract he probably deserves.  SPRO projects four years and $68,125,000.  They don't want to offer that much money and lose a first round draft pick.  Now there are teams that wouldn't have to do that, ... the first ten worst teams for last year have a protected pick and would lose only a second.  Teams that have already signed players and lost their first pick would now be losing their second or third, i.e. the Cleveland Indians.  But why are they picking on Lohse to make this case.

Last year Kyle Lohse had one of the best seasons for any pitcher in baseball and every staff in the game could use a season like that from another pitcher on their staff this coming year.  But this was Lohse's best year ever, by a pretty good margin, making the case that you would be buying high.  But, geez, they've done that plenty of times before, and to Lohse's credit, it's not like his best years, even beyond last year, haven't been after the age of 30.  His three best seasons have come at age 30, 33, and 34.  But there is that gap of two years, which concerns some with a contract that long.  But why is Lohse being held to a standard that others have not been.  That's a great question and it seems to come down to dumb luck.  Dumb luck that Lohse probably asked for too much money at the beginning of the process and became, to some extent, a pitcher playing musical chairs with one less chair than he'd like.

Now we expect some team to come through in the end, but not at the dollars and length SPRO suggests.  Rumors are the Texas Rangers are in the hunt, and as a team that wants to win now, has lost pop and offense in free agency, it makes sense to try to overcome that with pitching.  As noted earlier, we think he might get a 1 year contract at slightly north of the qualifying offer, perhaps between $14m and $16m per year, with a potential club option for extending years, but with the clause of no qualifying offer next year if he has to go on the market again.  And he should probably take that kind of deal if offered.  It is spring training right now and the season will be starting soon, after all.

PS - For those of you who think Jose Valverde is number 2, and wonder what SPRO says Jose should get, but probably won't.  See some of the same reasons from above ... SPRO 3 years $23,068,000.  He'll probably have to accept a one year deal in the $5m to $7m range though.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ten Most Overpaid Players This Year

We've seen a number of lists that discuss what are the worst contracts in baseball, so we'll address that question with a bit of a twist.  Let's just focus on this upcoming season and compare what they're being paid with what they're worth based on the past few years.  Some, like Ryan Howard, have been hurt, and are bound to look better in the light of day after a full season of play in 2013.  Not that his contract won't still be overvalued, I'm guessing, but it won't look nearly that bad.  There are others, such as the number one man, Alex Rodriguez, who are bound to look worse after 2013.  But let's have at it.  These are the ten most overpaid players for the 2013 season.  It's not a comprehensive list; we may have forgotten someone.  It will compare the actual salary for 2013 against the SPRO (Salary Projection Model) that takes into account the last four seasons of a player's career and projects forward.

Ten Most Overpaid Players for 2013

1) Alex Rodriguez, Actual Salary $28,000,000, SPRO $8,231,000
As each year passes and particularly with this upcoming season that might see Rodriguez miss most or not all with injury, that megadeal gets worse and worse.  And it was bad when it was given, with bonus payments for milestone marks into the years of his 40s.  Even if you discount the PED allegations, it's as if the Yankees forgot the history of the game and how stats decline.

2) Johan Santana, Actual Salary $25,500,000, SPRO $6,119,000
Yes, I know we're now in an age where King Felix gets a contract paying out $27m contract numbers in out years, but Johan should be showing clubs the way these contracts can go sour.  Santana was just as good a sign several years back as Hernandez, but it just makes so little sense to pay behind the $20m mark from a production standpoint and to do it that far into the future seems to rarely pay off.

3) Vernon Wells, Actual Salary $21,000,000, SPRO $5,756,000.
Never worth the numbers he was given as he was always in the class of outfielders whose production looked sexier than it was (i.e. Alfonso Soriano and Carl Crawford, as we'll see later).

4) Carl Crawford, Actual Salary $20,000,000, SPRO $5,241,000.
Didn't take long, now did it.  Crawford's deal was terrible the day it was signed.  He was never really much greater a player than Shane Victorino, who just signed for $13m per year, and that's too much.

5) Barry Zito, Actual Salary $20,000,000, SPRO $6,314,000.
He pitched well in the playoffs and this signing hasn't hurt San Francisco as they've won the World Series twice within the contract's tenure.

6) Ryan Howard, Actual Salary $20,000,000, SPRO $6,434,000.
Yes, the $25m per year numbers that will start, I think, next year, don't look good at all.  But he'll likely have a good year ($15m type season) this year that will make the contract a little easier to take.

7) Chase Utley, Actual Salary $15,000,000, SPRO $3,936,000.
Not hard to see why the Phils struggled last year, but I think we'll see a rebound from both this season, at least that's what this Philadelphia fan is hoping.  Utley's contract was fine in the earlier years, perhaps even undervalued.  Not the case in the last two.

8) John Danks, Actual Salary $14,250,000, SPRO $4,182,000.
Just goes to show how far he's fallen that I didn't even remember he'd gotten that good of a deal.

9) Brian Roberts, Actual Salary $10,000,000, SPRO $850,000.
He'd actually have a hard time getting what amounts to a major league vet minimum type of deal if he signed today, and it might even be a minor league deal to boot.

10) John Lackey, Actual Salary $15,250,000, SPRO $7,757,000.
Injuries have sapped any possibility of Lackey giving performance anywhere near the contract value.

What, no Albert Pujols?  No, he's not been bad, just not the Albert of old, and the length and value of his contract going forward makes more than a few nervous about how bad the contract will become.  But Albert's bad seasons are close to the best of other players, so, no, his contract for 2013, which pays him only $16m is not bad at all for the Angels.  Of course, that's pending a better start than last year's.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Hall of Fame Punt

When talk began to filter into baseball circles that it was possible that no recent player would enter the Hall of Fame this year through the writer's ballot, we were surprised.  No matter what you think about the era of steroids and those that are surmised to have taken part, or the others with few rumors, there's no denying that some of the best players from the era were on the ballot this year, with more to come next.  Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Bagwell, Biggio, Piazza to name a few.  So you would have thought that while the writer's might eschew voting in those with supposed PED pedigree, that some, at least one, of the others would make it.  But they didn't.  And we think that's wrong.  We are not in favor of shutting out the decades of play in any year of the voting, and think at least one, preferably two, and up to three should make it every year.  We would have voted Bagwell, Piazza, and Schilling this year, as we noted in our previous post.  But if others thought to vote for different candidates, that is fine.  But what seemed to have happened, is a whole lot of writers voted for almost no-one, and that will create a logjam of players with very good credentials in the years to come, especially considering the class of players coming into eligibility next year.  It will create a logjam for us.  Because next year, we would be voting for Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, and Tom Glavine all to get in on the first ballot, which will probably push the others above down a bit in the order.  It's going to be an interesting set of voting years at the Hall of Fame in the next ten years, that's for certain, and we do hope that the ensuing years will see no more shutout years.  Let's reserve that for the real diamond.

Friday, November 30, 2012

HOF Game in the Steroid Era, Rationale and Personal Preference

That's what it's going to come down to, after all, as the baseball writers make their first really difficult votes for the players of the steroid era.  Rationale, and individual rationale, at that, and personal preference.  Do they think of steroids in this era as just part of the game, one that the bosses of baseball turned their back to when they could have stopped it, so they'll turn their back to it now, hold their noses, and vote for anyone?  Do they say, no way, we won't ever vote for anyone who cheated the game like that, and if there's a whiff of probably to a player, they'll never get their vote?  Do they take a hybrid approach, trying to discern whether a player would have gotten in had they not taken a PED in their professional life?  It will come down to some rationale on their part, and it won't be pretty or logical all of the time, and it will come down to personal preference.

And where do we stand, as if anybody really wants to know?  We're in the third category, pending other information, with a penalty of exclusion for a period of time.  What time is that?  Definitely not voting for a PED rumoured player in their first year of eligibility, maybe not their second, third, or fourth.  Definitely not voting for a PED rumoured player when other players who are worthy sit on the ballot that we think should go in first.  But, I get the feeling, we'll eventually, if we had a vote, vote for them if we think they would have gotten in otherwise.  And we'll take it on a year to year basis.  Is any of that logical, or rational?  Probably not, but it is personal preference.

So let's take a look at this year.  First off, let's knock out the players who don't deserve grand consideration and focus on those who may or may not deserve it.

First Timers: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Curt Schilling, Craig Biggio, and Mike Piazza.  For us, these are the only players in this group deserving of discussion.

Holdovers: Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, Mark McGwire.

And we'll start from the bottom and work our way up.  And give our criteria right up front.  If a player would be in the Top Half of the Hall of Fame at their position, we will vote for them, at a maximum of three per year.  Why, three?  Well, we think this is an exclusive club and would have made it more exclusive in the past.  We think every year two players is a good number to enshrine, but are okay with three, and think, no matter what, at least one player should be voted in.  Okay, once again, personal preference and justification.

Mark McGwire - PED allegations and we believe a career that would not have been Hall worthy had he not taken them.  Not getting our vote, and that's our position every year.

Jeff Bagwell - Okay, popeye arms, but not really embroiled in the controversy.  We're going to say his numbers deserve inclusion.  He's ranked #39 in PEVA in history among all position players and is above the 275 PEVA number of which every player above it, who is eligible, is in the Hall already.  We're voting YES.

Jack Morris - His ERA is just too high for us and doesn't have the automatic inclusion number of 300 wins.  Very good pitcher, but just below Hall caliber to us.  We vote NO.

Mike Piazza - In the Career Position Player PEVA ratings for the regular season, he is the second rated catcher in history, only behind Johnny Bench.  We vote YES.

Craig Biggio - He has one of those automatic inclusion number that still ring true, 3,000 hits, but we don't like voting in too many players all at once, and this year (yes, we're voting for someone else), we vote NO.  But will be voting for him in another year and think he deserves inclusion.

Curt Schilling - It's doubtful Schilling gets into the Hall of Fame in his first year and there's logic to that opinion, plus a bit of dislike by some from a personal standpoint.  Plus his win total is not too impressive.  But Schilling dominated games at his prime and pitched great in the postseason.  And overall, he's #20 in the Best Pitcher PEVA Rankings,  We vote YES.

Sammy Sosa - No way, Jose.  We don't think, without steroids, that Sosa would have the numbers for inclusion.  Same reason as McGwire.  We vote NO, and do so every year.

Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.  These are two players who we do believe benefited from PED use, but even without them, would have the numbers to make the Hall of Fame.  Clemens is rated as the #3 pitcher in history and Bonds as the #2 batter.  Diminish their numbers and they're still probably in the Top 40.  We think they deserve inclusion eventually, unless some other allegations and proof pops up, but are voting NO this year.

So to recap our rationale and personal preference.

Our Ballot This Year
YES - Bagwell, Schilling, and Piazza.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Was Mike Trout the Best Rookie Ever?

That's what people are talking about, and is being written, on, where they compare rookies via WAR, and elsewhere.  Well, we're not proponents of WAR, in either definition, but we are the originators of PEVA.  And how do they compare on the subject of Mike Trout?  Was this past 2012 season the best rookie season by any player ever?  The answer for us was no, but oh, boy, was it close.

Comparing WAR to PEVA, Best Rookies Ever

PEVA Rank, Name Year, WAR, PEVA
1. Joe Jackson 1911, 9.7 WAR, 34.179 PEVA
2. Mike Trout 2012, 10.0 WAR, 33.373 PEVA
3. Dick Allen 1964, 8.7 WAR, 30.770 PEVA
4. Al Rosen 1950, 7.6 WAR, 29.097 PEVA
5. Ted Williams 1939, 7.9 WAR, 28.548 PEVA
6. Tony Oliva 1964, 7.5 WAR, 26.344 PEVA
7. Fred Lynn 1975, 7.3 WAR, 25.825 PEVA
8. Mike Piazza 1993, 7.6 WAR, 22.963 PEVA
9. Albert Pujols 2001, 7.7 WAR, 20.378 PEVA
10. Tommy Agee 1966, 7.2 WAR, 18.187 PEVA

* Players listed per CBS Sportsline comparison; there may be others within the PEVA Top 10 Rookies not listed.

And for a quick look at the stats within WAR and PEVA.

Mike Trout
Trout 2012 - 30 HR, 83 RBI, 0.326 AVE.
MLB Max 2012 - 44 HR, 139 RBI, 0.336  (MLB Average 0.255)

Joe Jackson
Jackson 1911 - 7 HR, 83 RBI, 0.408 AVE.
MLB Max 2011 - 21 HR, 127 RBI, 0.420  (MLB Average 0.266)

Gotta admit, it's hard to choose between them, but they seem to be the Top Two, no matter whether you are a proponent of the WAR formula, or our own.