Posted tagged ‘Baltimore Orioles’

Robinson Cano’s Fair Market Value

November 10, 2013

Four players in MLB history have signed contracts in excess of $200mil. In 2001 and 2008, Alex Rodriguez signed two $200mil+ contracts, becoming the first player to sign a contract worth $200mil or more. 2011 saw two players top the $200mil mark with the Angels signing of Albert Pujols and Tigers signing of Prince Fielder. This past year saw Joey Votto signed an extension that will pay him north of $200mil. The fifth player to join this club will be Robinson Cano.

During the past season the Yankees offered Robinson Cano an extension worth $165mil over seven years. Cano rejected the offer and his agency instead told the team that Cano could be signed for roughly $300mil over ten years. Such a contract would make Cano the highest paid player in sports- by far.

So the question being asked by everyone is: what is Robinson Cano worth? $300mil, $165mil, or somewhere in between? Well, let’s answer that question. First, I will look at his past few seasons as well as his projections for 2014. Then I will project that going forward over the life of a hypothetical contract. After coming up with an estimated figure, I will compare him to similar players and assess other factors that come into play.

Robinson Cano has established himself as the best Yankee on a team that features Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and CC Sabathia. In doing so he earned five All-Star selections, five Silver Slugger Awards, two Gold Gloves, a World Series Championship, a World Baseball Classic Championship, and a World Baseball Classic MVP Award. According to FanGraphs, Cano has been worth $162.7mil throughout his career while earning about $56mil, for a value of $106.7mil. So after years outperforming his contract, Robinson wants to finally cash in- and then some.

A lot of times people make the mistake of thinking a player should get paid based of their career. While it’s true a contract is based on how a player has performed, forecasting the future is equally important. So basing a contract off his whole career can have problems- Robinson Cano is a much different player than he was a rookie back in 2005.  However, there is merit in looking at recent history. Here are his numbers from 2010-2013 (Total/Season Average):

Games: 640/160

Hits: 774/193.5

Home runs: 117/29.25

BA: .312

OBP: .373

SLG: .533

wOBA: .386

wRC+: 142

UZR: 8.9/2.225

DRS: 38/9.5

fWAR: 25.4

fWAR/650PA: 6.03

So over the past four years Robinson Cano has been an MVP level player. His offensive numbers are all excellent, his defense is above average, and his WAR value represents that. From 2010-2013 Cano is second to Miguel Cabrera in WAR as well as hits- by one single hit. Moreover, he is second in games played to Prince Fielder. So Cano is an all-around player who can be relied upon to take the field every single game. That is an aspect of player that is often overlooked and something which will help Cano’s free agency case.

Based on the average of his past four seasons Robinson Cano figures to be about a 5.5-6.5 WAR player in 2014. Both CAIRO and Steamer project Robinson to have a 5.6 WAR in 2014. So what does a $/WAR cost? Of late there has been some debate. FanGraphs likes to forecast this value whereas Lewie Pollis has recommended looking at it retrospectively. FanGraphs has $/WAR around $5mil whereas Lewie Pollis has it at $7mil. Personally, I like the way FanGraphs does it, so I will start my analysis with a $/WAR of $5mil and will adjust for inflation each season at 5%. I will also decrease his projected WAR by 0.5 each season.

Year

Age

$/WAR

xWAR

xSalary

Average Salary

2014

31

5.00

5.6

28

28

2015

32

5.25

5.1

26.775

27.388

2016

33

5.51

4.6

25.346

26.707

2017

34

5.79

4.1

23.739

25.965

2018

35

6.08

3.6

21.888

25.150

2019

36

6.38

3.1

19.778

24.254

2020

37

6.70

2.6

17.42

23.278

2021

38

7.04

2.1

14.784

22.216

2022

39

7.39

1.6

11.824

21.062

2023

40

7.76

1.1

8.536

19.809

Total

33.5

198.09

19.809

On face value it appears that over the next ten years the estimated worth of Robinson Cano is about $200mil or $20mil per season. That is a far cry from the $300mil his agency is asking for. Moreover, if you stop at year seven you get a 7/$162.95mil contract. As mentioned earlier, the Yankees offered Cano $165mil for seven years of service. It looks like the Yankees were a lot closer to Cano’s estimated value than CAA.

Now, this is a general fair market value assessment. But each team is not created equal. Robinson Cano will be worth more to a team in the playoff hunt than a bottom of the barrel team. So realistically, we can rule out any non-contenders from signing Cano. If they did want to sign him it would be in their best interests to offer him less money because he isn’t worth as much to them. And doing so would take them out of the market.

One way we can see if a team would have interest in Robinson Cano is by looking at Win Curves, which is explained below by Vince Gennaro:

In order to sort out these effects for each team, we can turn to the regression analyses to estimate the win-curve for each team (discussed in more detail in an earlier chapter). By analyzing historical data that captures fan behavior, we can ultimately assign an estimate of a dollar value for each win. More specifically, the model estimates the change in a team’s revenues at various levels of team regular season wins. For example, the Houston Astros are expected to generate $1.2 million more revenue as an 81-win team versus an 80-win team. That’s equivalent to saying the value of the Houston Astros’ 81st win is $1.2 million. At the extremes, the Pittsburgh Pirates 71st win generates about $300,000 in incremental revenue, versus the $4.2 million that accrues to the Yankees for their 90th win.

Figure 3  $ Value of five wins

TEAM     78-83    86-91

CHC      4.8      15.9

NYM      7.1      18.0

LAD      3.8      15.1

BOS      5.8      13.3

LAA      5.2      11.8

CLE      5.0      12.5

TOR      4.3      12.5

CWS      5.2      14.9

SF       6.2      15.2

ATL      6.1      9.6

 

OAK      3.0      7.7

STL      5.1      13.9

PHI      4.5      14.5

HOU      5.9      12.5

SEA      5.8      16.1

MIL      3.8      8.5

TEX      2.7      11.4

MIN      3.0      6.8

DET      3.4      10.4

AVERAGE: 4.2      11.7

 

SD       3.3      10.8

ARI      3.6      11.3

BAL      3.1      12.3

NYY      5.6      18.4

CIN      2.6      7.5

PIT      2.3      7.3

TB       3.9      9.1

FLA      3.5      9.0

KC       3.6      7.4

The teams that most likely will be in the Robinson Cano sweepstakes are the Yankees, Orioles, and Tigers. Teams that could be in that I ruled out include the Blue Jays, Royals, Nationals, Cubs, Dodgers, and Giants. Although the Blue Jays could use a second baseman, I don’t see Cano being in their plans. While they have money, the team has finished below .500 the past two seasons. Despite a roster that might compete on paper, I think the team is too well-run to throw nine figures at Cano for a long term contract to get them over the hump. The Royals are an emerging contender but do not have the financial capability to spend on Cano. The Nationals are a playoff contender with money. But they recently filled second base with top prospect Anthony Rendon. Moreover, it appears that Washington would want to save their pocketbook for Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg while still dealing with Jayson Werth’s contract. The Cubs could upgrade at second base but are too far away from competing and any upgrade Cano brings will be minimal. He may make the team a .500 team which will bring in less revenue for the club then going from good to great. The Giants are a team that could compete in the NL West, but already have Marco Scutaro at second base. Could they throw him aside for Cano? Sure, but I don’t think that will happen. Finally, the Dodgers were seemingly the favorites to land Cano all season, but signed a Cuban second baseman earlier in the off-season.

So that leaves us with the Yankees, Tigers, and Orioles. Although there are no 2014 forecasts available (that I could find) each of these teams figures to have a shot at the playoffs, in staggered odds. The Tigers should project around 90 wins, the Orioles should project around 85 wins, and the Yankees should project at 80-81 wins. So each team is in the most influential part of the win curve for revenue, but at different stages.

Let’s start with the Yankees. Although it’s a bit optimistic, the Yankees probably will forecast to an 80-81 win team. For them, according to Gennaro’s win curve, that is worth an additional $5mil in revenue. Granted this is seven years later and the Yankees play in a new stadium, are valued more, and their YES Network has gone up in value as well. But either way, moving from 80 wins to 85 or 86 wins won’t have much of an impact on their revenue.  This is because Yankee fans expect a winner every season and being above average won’t cut it. With expensive ticket prices and merchandise, fans are more hesitant to spend money on the Bombers when they are not dominant. This past season is great evidence, as the Yankees won “only” 85 games and a decrease in both attendance and TV ratings. Moreover, with two Wild Card spots, teams should focus on getting to 88-90 to qualify for a spot. With Cano estimated to have a 5.6 WAR in 2014, he alone will not get them to the part of the win curve that will a large uptick in revenue.

However, if the Yankees are able acquire a pitcher such as Tanaka from Japan and get positive contributions from Michael Pineda, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and sign another impact player, the team could then forecast as a 90 win team with Cano. The difference between 85 and 90 wins for the Yankees will be at least $20mil in additional revenues. So depending on certain circumstances, Cano can be worth anywhere from $5-$20mil in additional value for the Bronx Bombers. This means a 10/$220mil contract or 7/$184mil if the team doesn’t want to go as long on years.

After the Yankees I believe the Tigers should be considered the favorites for Robinson Cano. The Tigers have been a 90+ win team for the past couple seasons and 2014 should be no different. They are returning the key pieces of their starting rotation (Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez) as well as their starting lineup minus a second baseman. Enter Cano. By adding Cano the Tigers can jump from a 90 win team to a 95 win team that should be among the favorites to win the World Series. For the Tigers this jump in wins should bring in an additional $10-$15mil in revenue. Going further, revenue goes up with a World Series win and Cano would increase their World Series odds. So the Tigers could be in a similar situation to the Yankees, where Cano could bring in, at least, an additional $15 or $20mil in value.

Finally, we arrive at the Baltimore Orioles, who I consider a long shot for the All-Star second baseman. Baltimore is a city that reacts well to winning. In 2007, going from 78-83 wins would have only generated an extra $3.1mil of revenue but going from 85-91 wins would have generated $12mil in additional revenue. Again, the amount of revenue generated would be greater than it was in 2007, but the value would be around $12mil. So the Orioles should want to tack on an extra $12-$15mil for a Cano contract offer.

So far I have been looking at Robinson Cano’s performance value and its impact on a potential bidders win curve. There are two other factors to take into account- risk factor and marquee value. Risk factor has two components according to Vince Gennaro, quality and quantity. Quality is a player’s performance (WAR/650 PA) while quantity is games played. Robinson Cano would be a low risk player because his performance quality does not vary according to his playing time quantity. He consistently plays 160 or more games a year. A low risk player has his value adjusted up 10%. Although it’s tough to project how he will age, I will still apply this 10% to the life of his contract. So we have $198.09mil x 10% equals $217,899,000 for a ten year contract. If a team can sign him for seven years, that would be $179,245,000.

Along with risk factor, Cano’s value can go up or down based on his marquee value. Vince Gennaro writes that marquee value has four factors: personal qualities, performance factor, continuity factor, and team brand value. Robinson Cano meets three of the aspects of personal qualities as he has a positive image; he is recognizable being in the top twenty for jersey sales and a strong presence in the Latin community; he is relatively accessible; however, being a native Spanish speaker, his articulate quality takes a dent. The team brand value is 2.5 x the baseline revenue.

Looking at the Yankees, this means that the brand value is $1.425bil (2.5 x $570mil revenue). Taking the above factors into consideration as well, Cano has a marquee value in New York of $5,343,750. This will be different for Detroit and Baltimore because of different revenues and a lack of continuity factor. In Detroit Cano has a marquee value of 1,837,500. In Baltimore Cano has a marquee value of $1,575,000. My revenue figures are from Bloomberg Sports franchise valuations.

So to backtrack: Robinson Cano, over ten years, has a fair market value of $198.09mil. In New York, his value would shoot up to $243,242,750mil. This is from a risk factor of +10%, $20mil in performance value based on the win curve, and $5.34375mil in marquee value. For the Yankees, a fair contract for Cano is 10/$243,242,750mil (~$24.32mil per). Over seven years a fair contract is $204,588,750 (~$29.23mil per).

In Detroit, a fair ten year contract offer is 10/$239,736,500 ($23.97mil per). In Baltimore a ten year contract offer should be 10/$231,147,000.

If Robinson Cano wants to take the money and run, then staying in the Bronx looks to be his best option. Detroit can offer a near identical contract because they are very good with favorable World Series odds. If Cano is the cog that helps them lift the trophy then they will see even more revenue than I accounted for. Despite that, he is still just as valuable if not more valuable to the Yankees. He will keep them a contender in the near future and if the Yankees can re-load over the next couple seasons, then he will still be an impact player when the team is again competing for a shot at the World Series. Moreover, the Yankees have a very unique win curve because of their market and the Yes Network. Keeping the team competitive will net them more revenue than any other team so the Yankees do have incentive, when looking at their bottom line, to spend big to keep Cano in pinstripes. As for the Orioles, they could spend big on Robinson Cano, but to spend as much as Detroit or New York would be a bit of an overpay, especially for a somewhat small market team that might be looking to save some money for a Manny Machado extension.

To recap (Ten year):

Neutral context fair market value: $198.09mil

Yankees Value: ~$243mil

Tigers Value: ~$240mil

Orioles Value: $231mil

Additional Notes:

*According to FanGraphs the average salary of the top five players for the past few seasons has been $24-$25mil. Based on my estimated ten year contract offers, Robinson Cano would be expected to earn about $24mil a year, which falls in line with how the game’s top players have been paid. So Robinson Cano has two options- take the years for a “discounted” per year price, or take a contract with shorter years but get paid more per year because he will be paid greatly for his prime seasons. By asking for 10/$300mil he wants to have a cake and eat it too (although I’m sure it’s a negotiating tactic).

If I was a team, I would prefer the option of paying more per year if it means a shorter contract. Super long contracts are very risky because anything can happen. Either way the team will still be paying a ton of money so I would tack on a few million more if it means my long term commitment is shortened.

**Remember, a lot of the number crunching in this is based off estimations. I started his WAR values at 5.6 in 2014 and decreased it by 0.5 each season. If you want to start him higher or lower that will make a difference. If you want to increase his decline phase by more than 0.5 WAR each season that will make a difference. If you want to adjust for inflation differently that will make a difference. This is how I see it and one can easily see it a different way.

***According to FanGraphs crowd sourcing, fans think Robinson Cano will sign for 8/$196.2mil at $24.5mil per year.

****Robinson Cano has accumulated 37.1 fWAR from 2005-2013. Based off my estimates, he will accumulate another 33.5 fWAR through the 2013 season. That would give him a career total of 70.6. Every second baseman with a WAR over 70 has been selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Most recently, Roberto Alomar was elected with a 63.9 fWAR. If things hold up, Robinson Cano could very well be a Hall of Fame inductee and prime candidate to have his number retired, if he does stay in the Bronx.

*****I would like to analyze his future performance value with comparisons to similar players. At the moment, I do not have the capability to do so. I would compare him to current second baseman as well other past second baseman with similar numbers and body types.

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Orioles trade for Mark Reynolds

December 6, 2010

In return, the Orioles are sending relievers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

This is just a ho-hum trade. Mark Reynolds will not be a difference maker in Baltimore. Reynolds will make $5mil this season and $7.5mil next season. If Reynolds can be a 2 WAR player over that time, he will bring value to Baltimore above his contract and be a solid everyday player. But he is not a difference maker or a young kid, so he is just a short term solution until the team is better positioned to make a run at the playoffs in 2013 and beyond.

In return, they gave up two relievers. So they didn’t go overboard giving up prospects or talent for an okay player like Reynolds. On the other hand, the D-Backs are continuing to solidify their bullpen, which was historically bad for much of last season. Neither trade should have a big impact on either team, but for each side the trades make sense for where they are in their development and what goals they want to accomplish.

What I do want to comment on is Adrian Beltre and how he has gotten screwed within the past 24 hours. From the rumors I’ve heard, his three biggest suitors were Boston, Oakland, and Baltimore. Boston no longer has a need for a third baseman. The same goes with Baltimore. Oakland withdrew their offer since Beltre has ignored them since he wanted a bigger deal. Other teams that might be interested are Detroit and the Los Angeles Angels, but those teams also want Carl Crawford and want him more. Moreover, Beltre no longer has leverage. At this point, his price has dropped and he will have to take what he can get. It’s been a rough day for him to say the least.

MORE TRADES!: Miguel Tejada now a San Diego Padre

July 29, 2010

Miguel Tejada to San Diego Padres in exchange for prospect Wynn Pelzer.

I hate this deal for San Diego. Hate it, hate it, hate it. Miguel Tejada will make them worse, and they gave up a decent prospect in the process. The current Padres third baseman is Chase Headley. Headley is an average hitter (.314 wOBA; 102 wRC+) but he is a really good fielder (7.9 UZR in 982 innings; 7.7 career UZR at third). The Padres M.O. is defense. Defense is the reason why they have been winning games. It’s the reason their pitchers have looked better than they have actually performed. They have a poor offense, but you don’t want to mess with that defense unless you’re getting an offensive upgrade.

With Tejada, the Padres are not getting an offensive upgrade. It’s not 2002 anymore. Tejada has a .296 wOBA and 81 wRC+- a significant downgrade compared to Headley. Yeah, Tejada will now face NL pitching. But he is going from a hitters park to the most extreme pitchers park in baseball. I doubt he’ll start hitting in San Diego. Moreover, Tejada is a bad defender, so if he gets playing time he will hurt the Padres stellar defense.

ZiPS projects a .326 wOBA from Miggy going forward and a .318 wOBA from Headley. Factor in that Headley is the superior defender and you get the conclusion that Headley is the better player. If Tejada becomes the starter, San Diego just got worse. I mean, Headley is 26 and has a 2.5 WAR this season. He is solid ML player now and going forward. Miguel Tejada has been worth 0.1 WAR and is at the end of his career.

But that’s not the end of the story. The Padres gave up a decent prospect in Wynn Pelzer. Before the season, BA ranked him the seventh best prospect in the Pads system and rated his fastball and slider as the best in the system. He is a strikeout/ground ball pitcher who had success in 2008 and 2009 before an okay 2010 season. He isn’t anybody to write home about, but considering Tejada has been a replacement level player in 2010, he is a great return for Baltimore and a better player than one would expect Miguel Tejada to be worth at this point in time.

Baltimore makes a great trade and San Diego just made their starting lineup worse. The Padres needed an offensive boost, but Tejada is not the answer. Not only is he a bad hitter now, but he can’t field his position. This is a case of a GM giving into traditional stats. Both players have a .269 BA, 7 HR, and Tejada has five more RBI.

It’s a shame a players RBI total is the reason a GM of a first place team will make a trade that might cost his team some games down the stretch.

2010 Divisional Previews & Predictions: AL East

March 10, 2010

Finally, the division that most of you have been waiting for. The AL East. It is the best division of baseball with arguably the three best teams in baseball in this one division. While the Jays are rebuilding and the Orioles have a lot of young talent and probably won’t be very competitive because of it, the Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees are all looking for the division crown. So lets finish off the American League pre-season predictions in style by breaking down the AL East.

1. Boston Red Sox
Key Departures: Jason Bay, Justin Masterson, and Takashi Saito
Key Arrivals: Mike Cameron, Marco Scutaro, John Lackey, and Adrian Beltre

Defense, defense, defense. This is the main reason why I believe the Red Sox will win the AL East. It is basically what separates them from the Yankees. They added Mike Cameron and Adrian Beltre who are two great defensive players who posted UZR’s of 10 and 14.3 respectively in 2009. They will play two very important defensive positions and this will allow Ellsbury to move over to LF to field shots off of the monster. From a team that had Jason Bay in LF and posted a team UZR of -16.3 a year ago, that number will surely improve this season and will help them in run prevention. They also countered nicely to the Yankees addition of Javier Vazquez. While I do think John Lackey is often overrated, his addition to the Red Sox gives them the better rotation. Daisuke will be relied on as a 4th starter and allowing Tim Wakefield of Buchholz to fight for the 5th starter spot. I believe that Clay Buchholz is ready to take over the 5th starter spot, which would force Wakefield into the pen which is already very strong. I also have confidence that Adrian Beltre will bounce back off a horrendous 2009 season at the dish. He now goes to a much friendlier environment of right handed hitters. The Yankees did have the most powerful offense in the league and they got 38.4 Wins Above Replacement and a wOBA .366 out of their hitters last year, but the Red Sox were not far behind. They had 27.7 Wins Above Replacement from their batters and a wOBA of .352, which is also very good.

2. New York Yankees
Key Departures: Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, and Melky Cabrera
Key Arrivals: Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez, and Nick Johnson

I am sure that I will take a lot of heat for putting the Yankees in second. The Red Sox probably had a better off-season than the Yankees, but the Yankees had a great one as well. The Yankees reshaped their outfield by shipping Melky Cabrera to Atlanta and getting Curtis Granderson from the Tigers. I think losing Hideki Matsui and getting Nick Johnson could end up being a wash. I am really interested in seeing how Javier Vazquez does in his return to the American League. Many Yankees fans will probably disagree with me but I don’t think that he will have great success returning to a hitters park and facing American League competition. This is one of the reasons why I can’t seem to put the Yankees over the top. Regardless, he is still a very good pitcher and makes their rotation a lot better. I still like the Red Sox rotation more and both bullpens are really, really good. Now, I realize that the Yankees defense has gotten better as well with the addition of Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner will see playing time everyday with the loss of Damon and Cabrera. All in all, I think both of these teams will be separated by a handful of games. It could go either way and I am almost positive that I will get arguments on this.

3. Tampa Bay Rays
Key Departures: Akinori Iwamura
Key Arrivals: Rafael Soriano

Only in the AL East would you see the Tampa Bay Rays finishing third. If they were in any other division in the American League, I would probably have them winning it. How unlucky. The Rays might have the best young stud in this league in Evan Longoria. He is a great defender, as are the Rays. They posted a UZR of 69.5 last season which was good for second in the league. I really feel bad for the Rays because they are a team that is easily likable but they are stuck looking up at the Yankees and Red Sox. They have some promising young starters in David Price and Wade Davis. However, in what might end up being Carlos Pena’s and Carl Crawford’s final year in a Rays uniform, I don’t see them winning the wild card.

4. Baltimore Orioles
Key Departures: None
Key Arrivals: Garrett Atkins, Miguel Tejada, Kevin Millwood, and Mike Gonzalez

The Orioles quietly had a nice off-season. Kevin Millwood will be a veteran pitcher that they can count on since they already have a very young rotation. I think that the Orioles are at least a couple of years from contending in this division. They have several young guys that will be really, really good like Brian Matusz and Matt Wieters. The bright side for Orioles fans will be watching how Wieters and Matusz progress. The Orioles could get more wins than expected if they can get more production than expected out of Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins. Look at the bright side, Orioles fans, at least I don’t have you all finishing last.

5. Toronto Blue Jays
Key Departures: Roy Halladay, Brandon League, Rod Barajas, Marco Scutaro
Key Arrivals: Kevin Gregg and Brandon Morrow

As you can clearly tell by looking at the Blue Jays off-season arrivals and departures, they are clearly in the rebuilding mode. Halladay was a big loss because he was worth about six or seven wins year in and year out. The Jays will struggle in this division because they don’t really have any starters that they know gives them the advantage in games. This does not combine well with a defense that had a UZR of -33.3 a year ago. If Aaron Hill and Adam Lind do end up being one year wonders, we could be looking at the leagues worst team because both of them provided some unexpected offensive value last season.

Owner’s AL East Predictions:
1. Yankees
2. Red Sox
3. Rays
4. Orioles
5. Blue Jays

ES42’s AL East Predictions:
1. Yankees
2. Sox
3. Rays
4. Orioles
5. Jays

Dougbies AL East Predictions:
1. Yankees
2. Red Sox
3. Rays
4. Orioles
5. Blue Jays

Disco’s AL East Predictions:
1. Yankees
2. Red Sox
3. Rays
4. Orioles
5. Blue Jays

JeffMac30’s AL East Predictions:
1. Yankees
2. Red Sox
3. Rays
4. Orioles
5. Blue Jays

YC’s AL East Predictions:
1. Yankees
2. Red Sox
3. Rays
4. Orioles
5. Blue Jays

KG3’s AL East Predictions:
1. Yankees
2. Red Sox
3. Rays
4. Orioles
5. Blue Jays

Brewers, Rangers Underline Granderson Trade

December 13, 2009

As usual, the Yankees stole baseball headlines with their involvement in a 3-team deal that was highlighted by Curtis Granderson switching his jersey to pinstripes.  But the Brewers and Rangers made some noise of their own this week:

Texas Rangers Trade Kevin Millwood

To kick the week off, Texas somewhat surprisingly dealt former ace Kevin Millwood to the Baltimore Orioles for reliever Chris Ray and Baltimore’s #3 overall choice in the Rule 5 draft.  Millwood, after posting sub-.500 records and ERAs over 5 in both ’07 and ’08, reemerged as an above average starter last year with an ERA of 3.67 through 31 starts.  That 3.67 mark was the best by a Ranger starting pitcher and ranked 8th in the AL.

The deal on its own seemed like a poor one for the emerging Rangers.  The team finished 12 games above .500 last year and are on the verge of overtaking the Angels for the AL West crown.  Trading away arguably their best pitcher and the man responsible for a few of those wins was a step back to say the least.  Chris Ray, who Texas got in return, had shown signs of being a reliable closer prior to his Tommy John surgery in 2007, but floundered in 46 appearances following his rehabilitation last year, giving the Orioles a 7.27 ERA in those 43+ innings.  His velocity was down and he was relying on his off-speed stuff a lot more.  Needless to say, he just isn’t the same pitcher that was lights out in ’06.

Texas Rangers sign Rich Harden

However, the reasoning for the Millwood deal became pretty clear about a day later when the Rangers inked the injury prone Rich Harden.  The reason for it was, mostly, financial.  Over the past handful of years, the Rangers have had a payroll right around $68 million, ranking them near the bottom of baseball.  For them to take on a $6.5 million investment like Harden, they need to give up a $12 million expense like Millwood, and they did just that.

Many (myself included) figured Rich Harden would be able to cash in as one of the better players in a weak free agent class.  The man known for his quantity of injuries as much as his prominence on the mound has logged 25+ starts and 140+ innings in each of the past two seasons.  On top of that, he has always been superbly effective.  Harden boasts a career ERA of 3.39, including a dominant .220 batting average against and over a K per IP.  That is the stuff relief pitchers are made of, and Harden can give it to you for 5-6 innings.  He is a Cy Young caliber pitcher and he was just signed for a journeyman veteran’s price.

Milwaukee Brewers sign Randy Wolf

Because of the bargain Harden was signed for, the criticism rolled in when the Brewers seemingly overspent for the 33-year old Randy Wolf.  Wolf, coming off of a career year where he went 11-7 with a 3.23 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 160 K in 214 IP, inked a deal worth nearly $30 million over the next three years.  The last time the Brewers made a signing like this, they were bringing in Jeff Suppan for one of the worst contracts I’ve seen.  The similarities between the two are eerily similar, but unlike Suppan, Wolf seems to fit with the roster in Milwaukee.  I say this because the Brewers have been generally poor defensively in recent history.  A pitcher like Suppan relies on the guys behind him to give him outs.  If that’s not happening, he’s one of the worst pitchers in baseball, and that didn’t happen.

Wolf has done a good job throughout his career of limiting base runners and was especially effective in this category last year.  Can he repeat that success?  It’s unlikely he does to the extent of last year, but there is no reason why he can’t be a solid mid-rotation starter for Milwaukee.

Conclusion

Assuming Texas was financially forced to choose between Harden and Millwood, they made out with a victory in their deals.  While Harden won’t eat innings like Millwood, he’s the type of starting pitcher they need if they’re going to emerge as the best team from their division.  He is a legitimate ace that can look like the best pitcher in baseball at times.  On top of that, they save money and add a relief pitcher that at least has some potential.  The Rangers also have an already decent bullpen, making the loss of starter’s innings from Millwood to Harden less of a negative.

The Brewers signing Wolf will also have benefits.  He’s a big upgrade over what Milwaukee was running out there last year and, at the least, he will add stability to a very unstable rotation.  As a Brewers fan, I would’ve preferred Harden for the same contract we gave Wolf, let alone for less, but I don’t think Wolf was significantly overpaid either.  Keep in mind Oliver Perez signed a 3-year $36 million deal last year while Derek Lowe commanded $60 million over 4.  The Crew also brought in LaTroy Hawkins to help bolster the bullpen.

How Pitching Lines can decieve

August 21, 2009

Note for all of my fans (everybody can laugh now 🙂 This won’t be going up on statspeak.net because I feel it is kind of unrefined and not statspeak material.

Most of the time when we want to see how a pitcher did in a game, we look at there pitching line…

Take this one for example from tonight’s Orioles game

Pitchers IP H R ER BB SO HR PC-ST ERA
B Matusz 5.1 7 4 4 0 7 1 91-60

(Taken from http://espn.go.com/mlb/boxscore?gameId=290820130)
From this you would probably think 7 hits and 4 ER off of a HR… not a great outing. You might also notice the 7 strikeouts, but you’d probably  glance over it seeing the 4   ER…

BUT if you look more closely at the game, he was very very good outside of two innings. In the first he let up a single and two doubles. and in the 6th he let up a single, a double, and a home run… throughout the inning though it looked like he was excerting more effort to pitch…


If you take out those two innings, his line goes to 4 innings, 1 hit, 5 K’s, 0 walks, 0 HRs…

If you look at that from a FIP perspective, it goes from a

(HR*13+(BB+HBP-IBB)*3-K*2)/IP (Formula for FIP from fangraphs website)

(13+0-14)/5.33   -1/5.33-    So a -.19 FIP on a game where it would look like he wasn’t good… so actually according to fangraphs WAR, he had a good outing.

But if you go to my modified  pitching line,


(0+0-10)/4   -10/4   -2.50 FIP, whcih is simply amazing even considering it was 4 innings

But the home run did happen, along with the 1st inning, but Matusz still had a solid game according to things he could control. Though some people do like other metrics outside of FIP, this was a good way to show how sometimes the pitching line is very decieving

AND for Orioles fans, he did look very very good outside of those two innings, from what I saw (2 innings) he was dominating the Rays lineup.


(NOTE- anything that you see in such a small sample size (4 innings, or looking at the whole game 5.33 innings is much to small of a sample size to draw any conclusions from)

Sources-  http://espn.go.com/mlb/boxscore?gameId=290820130

NOTE this isn’t the total formula for FIP and is missing one portion that is a league specific factor.