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July 24, 2014

Painting the Black

The Selling-the-Closer Myth

by R.J. Anderson


Among the lessons taught in Moneyball, the one that crops up every July is what Michael Lewis designated "Selling the Closer."

The idea is simple: acquire a reliever, any above-average one will do, drop him into the ninth inning, allow him to tally saves, trade him to a sucker for more than he's worth at the deadline, and then start the process anew. To quote Lewis: "You could, in essence, buy a stock, pump it up with false publicity, and sell it off for much more than you'd paid for it." That thinking no doubt influenced reactions last weekend, when the Angels acquired Huston Street in a trade that cost them three of their top-10 prospects. Folks across the internet have since concluded that the Angels overpaid.

Between Jerry Dipoto's interest in sabermetrics and past reluctance to overpay for a closer, the Street trade bears some resemblance to the one Theo Epstein made in 2007, when he traded three prospects for Eric Gagne. Whether Street turns into the new Gagne, or any of the moved players into the new David Murphy, is to be determined; for now, all the analysis is based on theory rather than results.

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Related Content:  Moneyball,  Trade Deadline

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<< Previous Article
Eyewitness Accounts: J... (07/24)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Painting the Black: Th... (07/17)
Next Column >>
Painting the Black: Se... (08/08)
Next Article >>
Going Yard: J.D. Marti... (07/24)

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