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June 5, 2014

Skewed Left

The Economics of the Singleton Extension

by Zachary Levine


Leave it to the Astros, a team that's spent the last few years sending fans running to the record books, to the legal dictionary, and occasionally to the therapist, to be the team that in 2014 is sending us back to economics class.

Their general manager, Jeff Luhnow, has both an undergraduate business degree and a Kellogg MBA. Their assistant GM, David Stearns, came from the salary arbitration and collective bargaining team at MLB headquarters. Down the depth chart, their baseball operations analyst, Brandon Taubman, came from the derivatives trading world. Hell, their analogue of a traveling secretary (on this team a more comprehensive “manager of team operations”), Dan O’Neill, per his bio:

…spent seven years in the hedge fund industry with Mesirow Advanced Strategies, Inc. and as partner and chief operating officer of Oak Street Capital Management, LLC in Chicago, IL. Dan holds a B.A. from the University of Illinois and an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

So it’s not at all a surprise that with the Jon Singleton contract this week, they were the team that was issuing the flashbacks to sitting in the back row of economics class.

And if I remember correctly, I was at the time the one playing the role of former Astro Bud Norris, who was critical of the deal that guaranteed Singleton $10 million but potentially did so at the expense of his upside.

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