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.