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August 11, 2009

Prospectus Today

Blame it on Rios?

by Joe Sheehan

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"We'd rather have the money."

That's what the Toronto Blue Jays decided this week, looking at Alex Rios on the one hand, and about $61 million on the other. They decided that they would rather have the cash, and they preferred the cash so much that they didn't even need to get a prospect or a player or so much as a thank-you card in exchange for Rios. They simply let him be claimed on waivers by the Chicago White Sox, and just like that, they executed the largest salary dump in baseball history.

The seven-year, $69 million contract Rios signed back in April of 2008 looks ridiculous now, of course. He's been durable and good defensively since that point, but he just hasn't hit: .280/.328/.447 with just 72 unintentional walks in 1162 plate appearances. While that kind of production is acceptable for a corner outfielder who plays plus defense, it represents Rios' line for his age-27 and age-28 seasons, and is far below what the Jays expected when they signed him to the contract coming off his best season in 2007. In that year, Rios played in 161 games and hit .297/.354/.498. It was the second straight year in which he'd hit for both average and power, following some early-career issues with getting the ball in the air. His walk rate and K/BB had improved for the second straight season. He looked like a player coming into his peak with developing skills to match his impressive tools.

It wasn't unreasonable, 16 months ago, to regard Rios as good enough to be a core player on a championship-caliber team. There was the issue of his value to the Blue Jays, who with Vernon Wells' contract in center field wouldn't play Rios at the position where he'd be worth the most to them. There was his already being signed for 2008, although a back-loaded long-term deal made that a non-issue-his salary actually fell significantly that year. There was, and this may be most important, Rios' advanced age; the Jays were signing him not for his early peak through late peak, but for his entire peak on into his decline. That Rios was 27 on the day the deal was signed limited the upside he could provide during it. Even at that, the clear improvement in his skills from 2005 through 2007 gave the deal an echo of the John Hart-era Indians, where a team was investing in its future by locking up its homegrown players to long-term deals.

Unfortunately, Rios stopped developing. He went back to walking less and striking out more, not radically so, but enough to alter the value of a player who had marginal rates in those categories to begin with. He went back to hitting the ball on the ground, again not as much as he used to, but enough to make him a less-valuable batter. The problem with his 2006 and 2007 weren't the seasons themselves, but that he had no room for error off of them. Any regression-and regression is always a possibility-would cripple his value. When Rios went back to walking 40 times a year (instead of 55) and hitting ground balls 41 percent of the time (versus 37 percent), it was enough to turn a fledgling star into a disappointment-but one now being paid at a very high rate of pay.

In retrospect, we also know where the market for corner outfielders went. Had the Jays waited a year, they would not only have been signing a less-impressive version of Rios, but they would have had the backdrop of Adam Dunn and Bobby Abreu and Manny Ramirez struggling to find suitors in their favor, as opposed to the silly market that made Jose Guillen a very wealthy man. You can't blame J.P. Ricciardi for not seeing that developing 16 months ago.

What you can blame Ricciardi for is the one flaw that crops up time and again in his tenure: his uncanny ability to pay for a player at the absolute peak of his market value. He signed Rios when he was coming off of the best year of his career, which followed his second-best. The appalling Wells extension happened after 2006, which was just the second year in his career that Vernon Wells was a star. As Keith Law points out at ESPN.com, Ricciardi has repeatedly made bad financial decisions, both on players in-house such as Rios and Wells and on free agents like Corey Koskie and B.J. Ryan. Ricciardi signs players coming off of huge years, and contracts such as those have nothing to do but turn out as overpays. Ricciardi is never the guy signing Frank Thomas to a one-year, make-good deal and watching him become an MVP candidate; he's the guy who signs Thomas for $18 million a year later and hopes he does it twice.

It's not like Ricciardi is the only GM in baseball history to have this flaw. The fundamental error in the free-agent market, going back 30 years, is paying players for the year they just had as if it represents their level of performance going forward, when even a cursory look at the evidence will tell you otherwise. Rios, Wells, Ryan, and Burnett were all cases of signing a player coming off of a career year and mistaking that career year for something more. Exacerbating the problem is that Ricciardi, whether through necessity or preference, backloaded his biggest deals, so that three-quarters of Wells' money gets paid in the last four years of the deal, and 70 percent of Rios' deal is paid in the last four years; Ryan also got (and will get) most of his money on the back end. The further from the player's peak you get, the more money the Blue Jays owe them. That's a problem in the best of circumstances and it's a disaster when the players aren't good enough to earn their salaries.

Alex Rios is a decent baseball player, largely because he's a terrific defensive right fielder and would be a good center fielder. He doesn't draw enough walks or hit the ball in the air enough to fully capitalize on his talents, and because of this, he falls short of being a superstar. His contract, signed at the apex of his perceived value, only makes sense if he performs at the level at which he peaked, and few players sustain that kind of work. The Blue Jays will be rebuilding to one extent or another, and are better off for the $61 million that they'll save and for now being able to get both Adam Lind and Travis Snider into the lineup simultaneously. The White Sox threw them a rope this time; however, it's high time J.P. Ricciardi stopped doing things that require him to be rescued.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

Related Content:  Alex Rios,  The Who,  J.P. Ricciardi

55 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Mountainhawk

a) I bet Blue Jays fans would love if JP Riccardi wasn't allowed to do anything else he needs to be rescued from.

b) The title could have been 100x better with the simple addition of the word 'the'.

Aug 11, 2009 11:42 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

Gonna guess you're old enough to remember the song but not the movie.

Aug 11, 2009 11:43 AM
 
Mountainhawk

Yup. I was 7 for the movie. My bad. :)

Aug 11, 2009 17:30 PM
rating: 0
 
Peter Hood

Too bad someone can't rescue the BJs from Vernon Wells' contract.

Aug 11, 2009 11:50 AM
rating: 0
 
horn75

A bad contract is a bad contract, but backloading a contract is actually a point in Ricciardi's favor. From a time value of money perspective, he saves his organization money. In addition, he passes off more of the contract to the acquiring team.

This was a bad contract when it was signed. However, the Jays probably got a good value based on what they actually paid Rios for a year and half. It reminds me of the backloaded contract that the Marlins signed Delgado for before flipping him to the Mets after a year.

Aug 11, 2009 11:54 AM
rating: 0
 
ScottyB

I understand the time value of money and all, but I always thought it may make sense to front-load player contracts, rather than backload them. That way, you pay peak prices for peak-yaer performance, and then lessen your costs as the performance declines- freeing up cash to spend on new players (or to offset the "salary creep"of arb-eligible players.

To put it another way, Rios at $12 mil last year, then $10 this year, $9 next year, down to $6.5 in 2015 seems like a more reasonable allocation of cash. than doing the exact reverse.

Aug 11, 2009 12:06 PM
rating: 5
 
ClubberLang

Is anyone aware of any baseball contracts structured like this? I was under the impression that basically no agent will allow his player to sign a contract like that. You do see it in the other sports -- I know for example that Kirk Hinrich's contract had its highest salary in the first year because the Bulls wanted more financial flexibility down the road when the big free agent classes were going to happen. NHL teams do this too, though theirs seem to be as much a part of gaming their salary cap as paying for value.

I'm just curious, because it seems like a great way for teams to structure contracts, but I suspect players hate it because it's a lower starting number should they end up in arbitration at the end of the contract.

Aug 11, 2009 12:20 PM
rating: 0
 
joheimburger

Agents advise all players against it (rightfully so) because of what you said: lower baseline arbitration number post-contract

Aug 11, 2009 12:28 PM
rating: 4
 
Jay Taylor

Well, I think teams save money by back loading the contracts because of inflation. Something that cost $10 million in 2000 is worth about $12.5 million today. A team can tell a guy they will pay him $20 million, but that will be seven years from now when it just isn't worth as much.

Aug 11, 2009 15:47 PM
rating: 0
 
horn75

Say a team has the option of paying a player one of two ways. They can either pay him $12 million in year one declining to $6.5 million in the final year or do the opposite and pay $6.5 million in year one and $12 million in the final year. The total size of the contract is the same. Since apparently $12 million is available in year one, the best option would be to pay the player $6.5 million and invest the remaining $5.5 million in U.S. treasuries and bank the interest. Over the life of a contract this large, you generate enough interest to pay for a year of a utility infielder or a relief pitcher.

Aug 11, 2009 19:19 PM
rating: 1
 
blaseta

Saying that "the Jays probably got a good value based on what they actually paid Rios for a year and half" ignores an important part of the equation. A year and a half ago the Jays had a good asset. At the very least that asset probably would have gained them two draft picks, maybe even an impact player back in a trade (does anybody remember the Rios for Cain rumors? Even if untrue this gives a proxy for what Rios' value was viewed as). Instead they now have nothing.

Also, the time value of money argument is missing out on the fact that by backloading the contract you are severly limiting your possibilities for the future. If Rios' contract was more evenly spread surely he could have netted more than nothing. While flawed, Rios is certainly better than a lot of the outfielders being traded out there (Hairston, Hinske, Guiterrez (probably), Milledge) for something. JP's backloading basically destroyed the trade value of Rios.

In isolation I suppose you could argue that this mistake showed an optimism in the development of a budding player that didn't pay off. However, given JP's track record this is another mistake in a long line that leaves me wondering how it is possible that he is still around to make them.

Aug 11, 2009 12:47 PM
rating: 2
 
ChuckR

"A year and a half ago the Jays had a good asset." ...and a week and a half ago the Jays had an asset that the White Sox were apparently trying to acquire before the non-waiver trade deadline. And unless Kenny Williams was dead set on getting money back in a trade - and we have objective evidence that this was not the case - Ricciardi's miscalculations on Rios aren't just 18 months ago, they also happened last week.

Aug 11, 2009 12:59 PM
rating: 2
 
horn75

I'm not saying Ricciardi maximized value or that it was the right decision. I'm just saying that based on base salaries of $4.8 and $6.4 million for 2008 and 2009, respectively, the Jays got decent production for their money. Less so, but similar to my earlier example of the Marlins paying Carlos Delgado $4 million in 2005 and then flipping him and his backloaded contract to the Mets.

Aug 11, 2009 19:30 PM
rating: 0
 
mikebuetow

The time value of money works in a vacuum, but too often I think it is used as rationale where it doesn't apply. There is also opportunity cost, which in many (but not all) free-agent situations should (but doesn't) override the TVM conceit.

I write this in theory, because the arbitration issue inn practice supersedes all of this.

Aug 11, 2009 13:17 PM
rating: 1
 
canada

No way the decision to backload the contracts from the 2006-2007 era was a TVM decision. NPV'ing the contracts at a ballpark cost of capital of 10% saves Rogers and the Jays a couple million dollars for each contract. Compare that to the financial drain these contracts are now and how there is no "out" for the Jays aside from eating the contracts or keeping underperformers on the team.

They either backloaded these at the advice of Ricciardi (who thought he would be outta here in a couple years if Rios, Wells, Burnett and Ryan didn't produce - thus making the back-end of the contracts his predecessor's problem - or would be enjoying the fruits of competing) or to try to spend draw in as many players as they could in the first two years and then deal with it later.

For those accounting / finance nerds, if you go into the notes of Rogers Communications financial statements for the last quarter, they actually disclose that they are taking a writedown on BJ Ryan's contract. I had a good chuckle until I became depressed thinking about what a waste of money it was.

Aug 11, 2009 15:12 PM
rating: 2
 
russell

Heh. Isn't "Thou shalt use a WACC of 10%" the 11th commandment? I think it gets left out sometimes because of the popularity of top 10 lists.

Aug 11, 2009 16:59 PM
rating: 1
 
canada

Yeah, it pretty much is. I'm sure when the Rogers execs make capital decisions they apply the 10% discount rate regardless of whether it's a cell tower or baseball player. We bankers live in a realistic world!

Aug 11, 2009 17:58 PM
rating: 0
 
horn75

One time I was talking to a guy in the strategy department of my old firm. He was explaining the value of a new opportunity to me. When I asked him how he came up with a 10% WACC he said, "We use that for everything. It seems to work."

Aug 11, 2009 19:36 PM
rating: 0
 
canada

Without straying too far into Financeland here, I think the fact that 10% is the default for a lot of things is more a function of the ineffectiveness of CAPM, versus inherent laziness.

Generally when I'm trying to come up with a WACC, if the comparable company or opportunity betas are producing something significantly higher or lower than 10% (unless it's in a volatile industry like biotech where it's justified), I always try to fudge it to get close to 10%. Much easier to justify "everything is around 10%". Pretty much just assumes a beta of 1 and then a 6% risk premium + 4% risk free rate. Easy enough!

Kind of like using batting average instead of OPS+ or another advanced stat in comparing players now that I think about it.

Aug 11, 2009 21:26 PM
rating: 0
 
BurrRutledge

Joe, great article. Again.

Finances 101. They say it on every TV commercial for mutual fund companies, etc. Past performance is not a guarantee of future success:

http://beginnersinvest.about.com/od/investstrategiesstyles/a/aa081906a.htm

Aug 11, 2009 11:56 AM
rating: 0
 
phduffy

Ricciardi is never the guy signing Frank Thomas to a one-year, make-good deal and watching him become an MVP candidate; he’s the guy who signs Thomas for $18 million a year later and hopes he does it twice.

I don't agree at all with this. What about Scutaro this year? What about the non-BJ Ryan bullpen for his entire tenure with the team?

Aug 11, 2009 12:21 PM
rating: 5
 
Rob_in_CT

Do you believe Scutaro's 2009 is real, and not a fluke? He has done pretty well with pitching staffs overall, to be fair.

Aug 11, 2009 12:53 PM
rating: 0
 
baserip4

What about them? Do you mean Scott Downs and his 3-year $10m deal? The rest of the bullpen has been brought up from within, and developing pitching apparently is a real strength of Ricciardi's. Scutaro was a trade target who signed away his age 32 and 33 seasons to avoid arbitration; let's wait and see what Ricciardi offers him as a free agent this offseason.

Aug 11, 2009 12:59 PM
rating: 1
 
Matt Kory

My question, Joe, would be, was this a good move for the White Sox?

Aug 11, 2009 12:29 PM
rating: 3
 
Edwincnelson

In baseball past performance does often suggest a very high propensity for future success.

Aug 11, 2009 12:54 PM
rating: 0
 
bozarowski

Considering Burnett put up 2 of his 3 best ERA+ seasons (not counting his 7 games short sting in '99) as a Jay and, in the other year, led the AL in strikeouts and in K/9 I don't think it's really fair to clump him in as one of Ricciardi's failures. Not trading him last deadline for better value that the resulting picks - definitely on Ricciardi, but that wasn't a terrible signing at all.

Aug 11, 2009 12:59 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Rob McQuown
BP staff

I think because of the hindsight, this deal is going to be viewed as a LOT less of a total blunder than it was. Burnett was a very injury-prone starting pitcher who was great when healthy. To further compound the risk of his contract by putting an "out" into the deal seems like a departure from any fiscal responsibility.

When does Burnett exercise the "out"? When he's pitching well (see: what really happened). When does he stay with the Jays? When he's hurt and has to miss work. So, the way the deal was structured, the "upside" was taken away without any protection from the risk.

This was a case where if that was the clause required to get a deal done, the Jays needed to just do without Burnett.

Aug 11, 2009 13:46 PM
 
russell

Methinks Riccardi needs a better options pricing model.

Aug 11, 2009 17:01 PM
rating: 2
 
mglick0718

The more fundamental question though is what were the ex ante signs that Rios (and Wells) likely had peaked at the time of their extensions? There are certainly counter-examples, players with ostensibly similar skill sets who signed big contracts in their late 20's who proved to be wise investments (eg, Beltran, Damon w/Red Sox, Jim Edmonds, Bonds of course) -- except for Bonds, not too hard to imagine each of those guys immediately declining and their contracts becoming millstones.

Aug 11, 2009 13:03 PM
rating: 3
 
gregorybfoley

The guys you list could have been predicted to have better seasons in their late twenties than Wells and Rios did based on their track records up to that point. They showed more power and patience at younger ages and on a more sustained basis than either Wells or Rios. The signs you are looking for were that Rios developed slowly and never really had great plate discipline or power and Wells was inconsistent and also lacked discipline.

Aug 11, 2009 13:45 PM
rating: 1
 
Jay Taylor

Four years into Rios' career (when he got the contract) he had a .288/.338/.453 for a 105 OPS+. At that same point in his career, Carlos Beltran had a .284/.342/.469 for a 104 OPS+. I can see where somebody would think Rios would have a Beltran-like career. Maybe he still will.

Aug 11, 2009 15:44 PM
rating: 2
 
gregorybfoley

I guess you could make an argument that Rios looked like he was becoming a superstar in his age 26 season, but he had had only two very good years up to that point. He also had a mediocre K/BB rate of 55/105. Beltran, on the other hand, had a string of four very good seasons in a row starting when he was 24 and had improved his K/BB rate to 92/101 in the year prior to signing with the Mets. He also had a pretty good year playing everyday for the Royals in his age 22 season in which he hit .293/.337/.454. Rios was in the minors when he was 22 and then did very little in the majors when he was 23 and 24. We can go all the way back to their age 21 seasons when Beltran destroyed the Texas League while Rios was doing nothing special a level below in the Florida State League. Here are their stats for the year prior to their signings:

Rios (age 26) .297/.345/.498 .201 ISO 7.9% BB rate
Beltran (age 27) .267/.367/.548 .280 ISO 13.3% BB rate

The other main difference besides Beltran's better power, patience and track record is that Beltran was a free agent so the Mets had to bid against all other teams to get him while the Blue Jays had the option of taking Rios to arbitration twice more before deciding whether or not to give him 70 million dollars.

Aug 12, 2009 04:44 AM
rating: 5
 
ndubby

JP did it with Towers too. And you just know he's going to pony up for Scutaro's downside.

Aug 11, 2009 13:15 PM
rating: 2
 
paultuns

Some of the scuttlebutt in Toronto is that the Jays let Rios go so they could "re-invest" in Scutaro, Rod Barajas, Brian Tallet and Jason Frasor.

Strike three (or is it more) against Ricciardi is that he didn't trade Scuataro last month at the height of his value, and perhaps Barajas, too.

The problem for Ricciardi and the Jays is that always think they are on the verge of contending and don't realize they need to rebuild the entire offense. The pitching is in decent shape especially with Dustin McGowan, Jesse Litsch, Casey Janssen, and Shaun Marcum returning from injury. But the internal improvement of adding Randy Ruiz and Travis Snider won't be enough to overcome weaknesses from 5/9ths of their lineup.

Aug 13, 2009 08:02 AM
rating: 0
 
wonkothesane1

It's still mildly amusing to me that if the Blue Jays played in the NL West, they'd be perennial playoff contenders and have won a handful of division titles this decade (including 2008). The criticisms over certain contracts would be mostly moot. They probably wouldn't make as many desperation moves (a la Frank Thomas). And they probably wouldn't even need as high of a payroll to be contenders.

And if they simply just weren't in the AL east, most of that would also be true minus the handful of division titles.

Aug 11, 2009 13:37 PM
rating: 5
 
Aaron/YYZ

This is the true downside. In the AL East you are not building a playoff caliber team in comparison to the rest of baseball, but are instead having to build a team that is almost overwhelmingly the best team in all of baseball just to make the playoffs. For all the faults of Ricciardi (and they are many), it really is a pretty solid baseball team he's constructed. That just doesn't get it done in the AL East.

Aug 12, 2009 14:11 PM
rating: 1
 
ScottyB

The John Hart model- wrap up all your young players with long-term deals- worked exceedngly well for the mid-late 90s Indians, but seems to have crashed and burned for the current Indians (Perralta, Hafner, etc.) and the Jays.

Anyone have an example of this really working out (I mean as an organizational philosphy, as opposed to just one or two players like Wright or Longoria)?

Aug 11, 2009 14:14 PM
rating: 1
 
PeterBNYC

Universal badmouthing of this deal leads me to take a sympathetic look. What did Kenny Williams get? First, no future contract risk. If Rios has a breakout year next year, there will be no re-negotiation or arbitration risk; put another way, Williams will never have to negotiate with rios' agent about anything. Second, he gave up no players, no prospects. Three, of his three current OF starters, Podsednik is brittle and on the downside of his career, Quentin is talented but fragile and his future usefulness at best uncertain, and Dye, while a pleasant surprise over the past 2-3 years, similarly is in danger of entering a sudden decline phase. Four, Rios may be one of those players who benefits from a change of location and on-field management. If there is something more to be gotten out of him, Guillen is the guy to do it. Five, 5 years of Rios @ about $12 million a year is not a bargain, but is not clinically insane- one or two better years than he has had lately will bail out those economics. So I can see sound reasons to do this deal. But I probably would not have myself.

Aug 11, 2009 15:05 PM
rating: 5
 
Evan
(47)

Rios's contract wasn't that bad. He was one of the team's best assets going forward, and they gaev him away for nothing.

I've been one of JP's biggest defenders for quite a while, but this was incredibly boneheaded. The only explanation that makes any sense was the ownership told him to cut salary, and the only way he could do that with Wells on the books was to let Rios go.

Rios will be an asset for the White Sox.

Aug 11, 2009 15:16 PM
rating: 0
 
Servo45

The other problem with the Blue Jays is they are now going two different directions at once.

They held on to Halladay (not to mention Overbay, Scutaro and Downs), presumably to "compete" next year in a division where they were already well out-gunned by 3 teams.

Moving Rios and Rolen are great business/long-term decisions. But they certainly don't make the team any better for next year, they make them worse.

So, again, what's the logic behind paying Halladay a lot of money to pitch for an extra year and a half for this sinking non-contender?

Aug 11, 2009 15:33 PM
rating: 5
 
canada

That's the Jays' biggest problem right now. Their strategy is either non-existant or is not being executed in anywhere close to an effective manner

If they are in sell mode, they are certainly not executing properly and selling their assets at their highest values.

If they are trying to compete, they aren't effectively adding anything. JP's job is in jeopardy, and he knows it, and is basically just running around like a chicken with its head cutoff versus actually redefining or executing the Jays' long term strategy.

In fairness to Ricciardi (and I use fairness lightly since he has botched his real window to compete in the last few years), he is between a rock and a hard place. The Jays are missing key pieces to compete, but have too many talented young positional players and pitchers to enter rebuilding. Ideally they would use that, and go out an effectively add guys through trades or free agency, but I think with the death of Ted Rogers, they aren't going to have much room to add payroll. Unless they drastically reduce or add payroll, they are going to be a perpetually mediocore team until a salary cap is instituted (not going to happen), the # of playoff teams is expanded (not going to happen), or there is a divisional realignment and they get moved to the AL Central (also not going to happen)... basically, I don't see them as anything beyond a 75-85 win team for the indefinite future.

Aug 11, 2009 15:48 PM
rating: 2
 
paultuns

What I don't get about Ricciardi and the Jays is not trading Roy Halladay. If pitching is the strength everyone thinks it is (and it probably is), why not trade from that strength to improve areas of weakness? Instead of asking for a bunch of pitching prospects, shop Halladay around for a pair of likely contributors -- a starting catcher and corner infielder, or a quality SS and power-hitting corner outfielder.

Perhaps that will be easier to do in the off-season when playoff-contending teams are more likely to part with Major League talent that could help the Jays immediately. But I have little faith in Ricciardi 1) understanding this is something he needs to do and 2) being able to evaluate the talent properly to get the right bundle in return for their ace.

Aug 13, 2009 08:10 AM
rating: 0
 
beatolympics

There's another GM who pays top dollar at peak (or even declining) value: The Cubs' Jim Hendry, who gave big money to Zambrano, Soriano, Dempster, Lee, and Aramis Ramirez. Of that group, only Ramirez has shown to be a good value for the money while the others (especially in Lee's and Soriano's case) came right after a career year that had little chance of being replicated.

Aug 11, 2009 17:45 PM
rating: 5
 
horn75

Amen. Don't forget Bradley or his fetish for middle relievers like Eyre and Howry.

Aug 11, 2009 19:39 PM
rating: 0
 
sanott

people talk of billy beane and moneyball as an example of taking advantage of market inefficiencies...is kenny williams finding a new one? i know the yankees have made a habit of taking on salary, but the white sox have added rios and peavy for 4 minor league SP. are these two players contracts steep? yes. but to reload for a run at al central at that cost is commendable, i think.

Aug 11, 2009 19:36 PM
rating: 2
 
fgreenagel2
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

"The fundamental error in the free-agent market, going back 30 years, is paying players for the year they just had as if it represents their level of performance going forward, when even a cursory look at the evidence will tell you otherwise."

Joe: Please do an article about all the baseball moves in the past 33 years where this "fundamental error" happens (you can have your interns or BP IDOL rejects do the research). You can start by closely examining Hendry, Wade, Syd Thrift, Littlefield, Bonifay and whoever paid Nick Esasky. This readership loves to see voluminous data.

Aug 11, 2009 21:28 PM
rating: -5
 
greensox

When Kenny Williams did this in 2005, you completely missed the nuances. And Williams did it more cleverly, picking up key pieces for a World Series winner, plus a massive salary dump, to add other key pieces (obviously, the C Lee trade).

Aug 12, 2009 11:19 AM
rating: 1
 
greensox

Anyway, my opinion is that this is a good deal for both teams. The Sox can afford Rios, need a defensive outfielder that can get along with Guillen, and the Sox handle "swing at everything" hitters pretty well. The Sox picked up Peavy and Rios without touching their 3 or 4 best prospects.

The Jays, provided they use the available dollars to reinvest into their team more efficiently and not just cut salary, should also be improved. They could spread around the $10 mill per quite nicely. They have a lot of good players on that team.

Aug 12, 2009 11:27 AM
rating: 0
 
gregorybfoley

Aaron Poreda was their second best prospect.
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=8459

Aug 12, 2009 11:45 AM
rating: 0
 
greensox

First, if you go by that list. (Beckham is no longer a prospect). But that list is 6 months dated. At the time of the deal, Poreda wasn't even the Sox top pitching prospect - that would be Dan Hudson.
Dexter Carter isn't even on the list and he was clearly the Sox 2nd or 3rd pitching prospect (with Poreda).
The top 3 Sox prospects were and are Flowers, Hudson and Danks. In Poreda and Carter, the Padres got 2 of the next 3 plus a solid 4/5 starter in Richard and a weird pitcher in Russell that they might be able to turn around.

Aug 12, 2009 16:57 PM
rating: 0
 
paultuns

As much as I dump on Ricciardi this was a good move for the Jays assuming they re-invest their savings wisely. I have little confidence J.P. Ricciardi will do that.

One thing I don't like to hear from some baseball pundits is criticism of Ricciardi for giving Alex Rios the lucrative contract at the beginning of the 2008 season AND criticism of Ricciardi for mitigating the damage by letting Rios go for nothing. Perhaps the Blue Jays could have gotten something for him, perhaps not. But the team does have more financial flexibility because of this move.

I don't think letting Rios go for nothhing can be evaluated properly until we see what the Jays do in the off-season with their newfound flexibility. If I were the general manager I'd bank the savings for a year or two while the team was rebuilt, but that probably won't happen.

Aug 13, 2009 08:18 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Aren't you kind of giving Riccardi credit for driving himself to the hospital after shooting himself in the foot?

I mean, if Riccardi hadn't put the Jays in this situation, then he wouldn't have needed a "good move" to get payroll flexibility.

Aug 14, 2009 04:27 AM
rating: 1
 
paultuns

I concede that Ricciardi put the Jays in the bad situation where they need to regain payroll flexibility. But I wouldn't be so churlish as to not recognize a (rare) positive move by the Jays GM. Seldom in recent years has the organization realized there are problems that need to be fixed and then taken the *right* steps to address them. The Rios giveaway bucks the stupidity trend Blue Jay fans have suffered under the Ricciardi regime. For that, Ricciardi deserves a cheer -- a single cheer and no more.

It should also be stressed that the Rios contract was not entirely indefensible on its own but rather extremely troubling in the context that Ricciardi always pays too much for players coming off peak years. Joe Posnanski had a great piece at SI.com on the worst contracts in baseball and Ricciardi is responsible for three of the 11 he listed -- and it could have been more if Pos considered contracts that are no longer in effect (Frank Thomas) -- leading Posnanski to suggest renaming bad contracts 'Ricciardis'. Great idea.

Aug 14, 2009 09:34 AM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77

Might the real mistake Ricciardi made be that he didn't float Wells through waivers first to see if Kenny would bite on that given how desperate the White Sox are for a CF?

Not likely, but biting on Rios wasn't likely either ...

Aug 14, 2009 07:57 AM
rating: 0
 
canada

I would bet Wells' contract value that he was also on waivers but nobody claimed him

Aug 14, 2009 11:57 AM
rating: 1
 
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