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Top Line: First Fundamental Theorem of Calculus Says
Bottom Line: I Disagree!
Out-of-left-field hypothesis: Kind-of-old guys outperforming <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=FIP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('FIP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">FIP</span></a> due to <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=BABIP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('BABIP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">BABIP</span></a> is partially due to veteran pitchers getting friendly hit/error rulings by scorekeepers. It's already established that veteran pitchers get friendlier calls from umpires on called pitches, why wouldn't they also be getting breaks from the official scorers?
Jon Stewart called and asked for his snark back
In other news, I'm surprised you did not include the Astros on the list of suitors. They have the payroll headroom to take on Hamels contract, would appreciate both the short-term and long-term value he offers, and have the minor league talent to make a serious offer. An offer of say, <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=70348">Mark Appel</a></span> and <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=103417">Tony Kemp</a></span> would probably be superior to any hypothetical presented here, depending on how the Phils view Appel. It's plausible to think the Astros might be willing to trade them for Hamels. They are on his no-trade list, but he has indicated verbally he's willing to waive it, presumably in exchange for exerciseing his vesting option.
It's not that common that I disagree on so many points with a BP article.
First, the minor point, I do think teams have a definite edge over the outside sabermetricians. As evidence, none other than <a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/author/ben_lindbergh">Ben Lindbergh</a> has said in (digital) print that he saw firsthand that they Yankees had the numbers on <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Jose+Molina">Jose Molina</a></span> as early as 2009, 18 months before Fast published: http://grantland.com/features/brad-asumus-pitch-framing-dennis-eckersley/ . I forget where I saw the quote, but sometime in the past year or so someone asked a high-level front office type about the inside/outside knowledge gap and the insider said something to the effect that the outside saberworld was typically 2-3 years behind the franchises. At the minor league level I would think this advantage is greater since there is a lot more data that is strictly proprietary to franchise.
Second, more importantly, on the punishment side the punishment absolutely needs to be both individual and collective, for reasons of both intrinsic fairness and future incentives. Here are the future incentive problems.
In any principal/agent problem, there is always room for all manner of undocumentable communication, which allows for the principal to encourage the agent to behave unethically while simultaneously being able to maintain plausible deniability and hang your agent out to dry in the event he is caught. Because of this, both agent and principal need to suffer when wrongdoings happen
-The principal needs to be incented to police the agent, knowing that he will still suffer penalties even if he doesn't control them
- The agent needs a self-interested basis to refuse a suggestion from the principal to act unethically. It's a lot easier to say "I'm not risking jail for you" then it is to say "I don't feel comfortable doing this". Clear precedent that the agent will face punishment gives them more rather than less power to resist management pressure.
I generally agree with your punishments- loss of a 1st round pick, ineligibility for competitive balance picks, and international signing limitations, i.e. essentialyl equivalent punishments for violating the draft rules. Where I differ on the franchise punishment is the fine- I think the fine should be $1M <i>plus</i> the combined $ allocations of the forfeited picks / international pool. Between a late 1st rounder, 2 CB picks, and the internaitonal pool, the total fine would probbely get into the $8-10m range. That a) would be a real stinger but not a seriously damaging one. It would effectively be analogous to a busted draft. b) There is an explainable basis for the size of the fine. Since this is unprecendented, by definition whatever Manfred does will set a precedent. It's important that the precedent not be Goodell-style "I'll fine you whatever I damn well please" arbitrariness, and also that it not be seen that way. Tying the $ to something definable like the bonus slot allocations sets a nice limiting principle
As for the individual punishment, ultimately anyone who did or authorized the hacking should be banned from MLB employment for life. However, MLB should say at first something to the effect of "this is first and foremost a criminal matter" and defer to the DOJ. Anyone who charged should be suspended pending trial, and anyone convicted should be banned for life from MLB employment, as should anyone who admits to involvement as part of a plea, even if no criminal punishment results . MLB should make later judgement on anyone not charged based on evidence presented publicly. Only if the DOJ completely drops the ball on this should MLB do its own quasi-judicial NFL style inquisition.
I'll pile on with weather suggestions- While I'm sure the difference would be trivial, it is possible to estimate temperature at the time of event with freely available data. Hourly-level historical station data can be found here https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/datasets . The official weather station won't exactly match at-the-stadium temperature, but you could establish a stadium/station delta pretty easily. This will also allow you to estimate temperature for pre-1998 events
I have not fully understood the anger directed at Moreno around the baseball world. The relationship between Moreno and Hamilton is employer/employee, not parent/child. Hamilton is not a 'kid' anymore either- he's a 33-year old man who is paid like the CEO of a DOW-30 company and who hasn't kept up his end of the bargain. While it's certainly better for Hamilton that he get treatment, I don't see why the Angels have the moral obligation to be the provider of that treatment. It's not like Hamilton is unable to afford it himself, and it's not like he's completely alone in the world with out friends or family to provide moral/social support. Even if one wants to be 100% on board with calling addiction a disease rather than a moral condition, when a disease renders an employee as permanently damaged goods (or the employer perceives it that way), they'll cut their losses, move on, and get someone else to do the job. Making the (former) employee whole on $ is what insurance is for.
Marwin Gonzalez is an adequate fill-in for the short/medium term. They wouldn't bring Correa up unless it's July, Lowrie is out for the year, and they are within 2 games of the WC. Correa isn't even on teh 40-man yet, I would expect Gonzalez and Jonathan Villar to be given extended chances at SS first
22 of them belong to the author
A couple ideas
1) Switch the FA eligibility from service time to age, in which a player will become a free agent in advance of his age-29 season. This will cost the truly elite stars 1 or 2 years of FA eligibility, but will give an extra year or two to many more average/mediocre players, which should be a slight net win for the MLBPA. Teams are guaranteed to control a player's statistical peak (26-28) regardless of their promotion decisions, and players are guaranteed several near-peak years for which to get paid market rates even if they are late bloomers.
2) Schedule: Trim the schedule to 160 games rather than 154, get rid of interleague games except for the 'natural rival' series, expand the Divisional series to 7 games, and start the regular season a week earlier (with a bias towards the first series being in domed/warm weather environments. This would give more rest days to players, only cost 1 home game and 2 regular season TV dates, but give MLB 2 more playoff games to televise, and ensure no November WS's. The schedules get more balanced, the owners get to keep the rivalry series, and the nature of the rolling interleague means there will always be 1 rivalry series at any given time that could serve as a national broadcast game (Saturday/Sunday/Wednesday).
3) Keep the QO for <i>receiving</i> draft pick compensation, but get rid of if when it comes to <i>forfeiting</i> picks. i.e., just invent sandwich picks similar to the old class A/B system and don't take any away from the signing team. It removes the mark of Cain (mark of Drew?) that nukes players' signability but still maintains the competitive balance aspect of giving a leg up to smaller market teams who are about to lose their stars.
4) Instead of incorporating international players into a draft, merge the domestic and international systems into a single pool that operates in the same manner as the current international rules: Teams get dollar allocations for >100k bonuses, who-signs-where becomes a complete free-for-all. MLBPA gets to keep stiffing amateurs on the aggregate payout, but gets to give them freedom on choosing their employer and more negotiating leverage at the individual level, both of which will be huge advances for them. Owners don't really lose much of anything. Given how the international rules have been broken, the penalties for going over-cap will have to be really stiffened. Side bonus: massive incentive for teams to invest in player development/safety, which will become part of their sales pitch to amateurs.
-All serious CBA modification proposals have to have something in it for both sides, at least in aggregate. Pretending this is the frickin homestead strike and railing against Evil Robber Baron Management may make for a good political column (actually wait no, it makes for a hackneyed and stale one, but I digress), but will have zero chance of getting done.
-The nature of MLB contracts and baseball as a sport means players will always get a lower percentage of revenue than NFL or NBA. First and foremost, contracts are fully guaranteed and have very limited allowances for performance incentives, which means teams absorb all the injury and performance risk. This may be better on the whole, but it means teams have to build in an insurance premium and players have to take less in expected value. Players seem to be on the whole OK with this system, since very few seem to be angling for shorter contracts with bigger $ (which would probably raise their career earnings but expose them to much more longterm risk). Secondly, MLB franchises have to spend substantial sums on player development in ways NBA and NFL franchises do not. The fixed costs of running a franchise are simply higher, and a lot of the labor they have to pay for doesn't get their names in the box score.
The Astros did a lot of 6:10 games recently, on Saturday rather than during the week. I'm pretty sure TV ratings were pretty abysmal regardless, but I was a big fan of the earlier time, and it did seem like more families made it to those games
So to be an obnoxious, hair-splitting economics nerd, the Disposition Effect is not a function of risk aversion but of loss aversion. The two are related but distinctly different.
Risk aversion is simply preferring certainty to uncertainty, and being willing to take less in expected value in order to get more certainty. It's an entirely rational thing to do, in the economic sense of the term.
What you describe is loss aversion. Unlike risk aversion, loss aversion is not rational (again, in the economic sense of the term) and reflects an individual making an error of economic logic, in particular failing to accept past decisions as sunk costs and failure to make decisions at the margin.
The classic example is the coin-flip bet in slightly different circumstances. In version A, the game is I offer you a bet in which you win $2 for heads, win $0 for tails, or offer you the chance to collect $0.99 rather than take the coin flip. In version B, the stakes are reversed- you pay me $2 for heads, pay $0 for tails, or just pay me $1.01 and avoid the flip. A risk-neutral actor will take the coin flip both times to maximize expected value. A risk-averse actor will take the fixed payout both times. A risk-averse but also loss-averse actor will behave inconsistently however- he will take the fixed payout when he is in line to receive money but will go with the coin flip when he is potentially on the hook for paying it. The loss aversion is that he is more interested in the 50% chance of "not losing" than he is in aligning his decisions with his preferences regarding risk level and expected value.
Risk aversion is considered economically rational because of diminishing returns. Add a few zeros to the numbers above and one will easily understand- If the choice is over $100k instead of $1, the first $100k will change your life a lot more than the 2nd $100k, and so giving up a little bit in expected value in order to get certainty makes sense. On the reverse side, (assuming for the sake of argument that wiping it with bankrupcty is not an option) the 2nd 100k of debt is way worse for you than the first 100k is. What is irrational is loss-aversion, because it treats situations identical at the margin as somehow different. Behavioral research shows people have a pretty strong tendency to be instinctually loss-averse rather than risk-averse (e.g. the investment behavior study mentioned), but (on the good side) that people can and will realize the irrationality when it is pointed out to them and adjust behavior accordingly
This undersells the value. It's not limited to the cheap WAR in the 2012-14 timeframe, but also the value in future years-of-control. Chicago didn't just get the the 2013-14 WAR from Luis Valbuena, they also got the 2015-16 control years as well (which they exchanged for Dexter Fowler). The Astros didn't just get 2014 Collin McHugh, they also got 2015-19 Collin McHugh
It's a huge luxury for them to be able to afford to make expensive mistakes like that. The Zito contract would have crippled 8-10 franchises (imagine if the Padres, Royals, or Brewers had done that) and made life really hard for another 5. He's lucky the Giants aren't one of those. Sure, every GM makes signings he later regrets, but the Zito contract was on a whole different level, in the rarefied company of Albert Belle, Ryan Howard, A-Rod (2007), and Mike Hampton
I know you guys have yet to post the Astros prospect/system analysis, but what's your opinion on how much Singleton's D can improve? While he was a butcher last year, watching him I thought he was quick moved well despite his size. His issues are not range-related but hands/error-related. His UZR breadown seems to more or less agree with my impression, and you guys somehow gave him a positive FRAA in his MLB playing time last year.
Google "BATNA". How much more valuable is Hamels at 4/94 + possible vesting vs James Shields, who can be had for 5/100ish + the loss of a bottom 1st/top 2nd pick? Sure, Hamels a better pitcher, but is he so much better that you'd give up multiple top propsects when there's reasonably close alternative that won't cost you that? I sure wouldn't
The main problem from a GM's prespective, the mentality required to always avoiding winner's curse leads to paralysis. If a GM refuses to acquire any player for which another team has superior information, then he will make zero trades and sign zero free agents. Let's play that conversation:
Owner: So I see payroll is looking like it will be under the budget I gave you. Congrats on putting together the team so efficiently. I've been looking at a yacht upgrade for a few years now and I think this will finally let me pull the trigger.
GM: Thanks, the free agent market this offseason was absurdly overpriced, so I figured the only way to win was to not play.
Owner: I applaud your discipline. I do have a couple questions though- Last year LF and 2B were kind of disasters, and yet we are going into this season with the same guys. We ought to be in the wildcard mix so that seems to me like a bit of a problem. I don't want to tell you how to do your job, but there were several available upgrades on the market, you had said in October you were going to pursue them. What gives?
GM: Well, in the case of John Doe, we had extensive talks with his agent, and he showed some definite interest. We were a day away from making him a hard offer, but that all changed though when the Mets came in with an offer we thought undervalued him by $2-3m a year.
Owner: I don't follow...
GM: Sorry, it's a complicated mix of game theory, signalling theory, and auction theory. Basically, the Mets offer clearly demonstrated to us that we had erred in our evaluation, probably due to overestimating his defensive ability
Owner: Woah, let me get this straight- you decided not to sign an obvious upgrade at a position of need that I gave you the budget for because the Mets' lowball offer convinced you that your own player evaluation was wrong?
GM: That's...um...I don't...um... that's not really a fair way to characterize the process
Owner: Why are you still my GM?
I don't think there is a single person involved in baseball who actually thinks assembling a team through free agency is superior or more efficient than developing home-grown talent. GM's already know that free agency is a less-good way to fix your holes. And yet every offseason teams who are plausibly in the playoff hunt have holes that need fixing and can either spend money or spend prospects to fix them. Teams in the hunt want to upgrade and players who are FA's want to get paid. Someone has to win the auction, and everyone playing has more and more money to play with.
I do agree that it would be curious, and would be especially so in the context of their overall payroll level.
The Astros are in a weird spot payroll-wise though- for quasi-political reasons, they are essentially obligated to spend money on something this winter, and have said they plan on adding ~20m in payroll. Given that the RSN situation has been resolved they would be provoking a major fight over the next CBA and earn the hatred of all baseball if they reneged on that.
The issue then is, where is the best place to spend the money you have to spend? The two goals of spending that money are 1) get better 2) without hurting through opportunity cost your longterm plans. The way to do both is limiting commitments this offseason to 3 years. The problem with limiting commitments to 3 years is that it takes you out of the running for any top-tier FA in the rotation or lineup. Your only options then are to sign a top-tier reliever (a dicey proposition in general) or swing a trade in which you take on the last 2-3 years of an existing contract. They are almost certainly working the latter option on the phones, but there are not a whole lot of 3-years left contracts on the trade market that include a player you actually want in the lineup and provide better value (after what you trade away) than Robertson would. An example of what that looks like is the Braves reportedly telling the Astros the price of Evan Gattis is BJ Upton. Is Carlos Corporan for Gattis+Upton better value than 3/39+comp pick for Robertson? Perhaps, but not obviously so
I think the teams-trade-too-much-for-relief help trend is largely over and done. In 2013 the Astros traded an effective Jose Veras to RP-needy contender (DET) and got a fringy prospect who had just made it to high A. That's worth something, but not a huge amount. The market now is that if you want a prospect with everyday-starter upside he's going to be >2 years away from the show with the accompanying hasn't-played-AA-yet risk.
Starting around mid-last year the Astros switched out of trading now-for-later mode and moved into make-the-MLB-team-better mode. They are likely targeting a .500 record this year, and Qualls on a friendly deal is worth keeping around rather than trading for a lotto ticket. I am very leery of a 4-year commit to a RP, even one as high quality as Robertson, but if the Astros do it it's a whole-contract consideration and not mainly a 2015 one- on a 4-year deal, the Astros would be signing Robertson with the expectation he will be giving them high-leverege innings in October of 2017 and 2018. I have not looked at what next-year's FA class looks like, but a Robertson signing would be defensible if it looks particularly weak.
I might have been a little on the harsh side. I do enjoy the fun & whimsical articles and I don't want them to go away or anything, but they are definitely the fat and not the protein in the steak, and I like lean cuts on the transaction analyses for major moves
They are clearly trying to maniplate comparative value measures at 3B by ensuring Matt Dominguez gets 600 PA's worked into league averages again
Over at fangraphs, folks are crunching numbers (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/hanley-panda-and-the-monster/) in ways that make a good deal of sense. Here, I'm reading an attempt to get inside Ben Cherington's head, whether or not this move fits a philosophy, a hand-wavy argument pointing out that PECOTA pegs them (with only 80% certainty) as producing at somewhere between allstar and replacement level, and have to hit pagedown 3 times before we get around to mentioning quantitative measures of how good anyone is or discussing the possibility that Boston might be worried Bogaerts isn't up to his year-ago hype? Despite the length of this article, there was also no mention of where it makes sense to play Ramirez, or what we ought to expect of him defensively if he slides to LF, no discussion of what overall defensive lineup makes most sense for the Sox,
I'm usually a hater of the complainers and snipers on this site, but given that both of these deals have been in the news as pending for a couple days, this could have been a lot better. I don't pay money here to read meta-discussions about the nature of narrative. If I was interested in such things I'd subscribe to a literary journal.
btw, I love that the auto-text-search highlighted BS as "Blown Saves." This needs to be a thing. Anytime a too-young-to-know-the-real-answer kid asks me what "BS" means I'm defintely going to say "Blown Saves" instead of "Baloney Sandwich" going forward.
I'm usually a downvoter of knee-jerk criticism of articles, but this is 100% correct. 90% of what goes on on this site is valuing the future over the past (and rightly so), but awards like this are supposed to be exactly for past performance and nothing else. Including people based off what we think will happen in the future rather than what they did this season is BS.
Neal Huntington deserves to be on this list. And frankly, if it's 7 deep, so does Dayton Moore. I hated the Myers/Shields trade with a passion, but you know what? KC made it above the magic 87-88 win level that usually gets you a playoff spot, and they did it under resource contraints by building a team on so-known-for-being-overrated-they-became-underrated skills. They've only got one bad contract on their books (Infante), and it's not a serious impediment. That ought to put you in contention for an exec award, not backhanded compliments. Is it sustainable success? Will they be back in the playoffs next year? Probably not. But guys that have fluky good first halves still deserve the allstar spots they get.
You'd really rather hear the phrase "small sample size" one more time?
I feel the need to point out that re: Astros, "last place finish" is actually not a check for the first time in living memory
I should note that comment that this is Drellich's 1st year at the chron. I'd put better than even odds he also moves on to better things within 18 months
Drellich is quite good. His axe grinding regarding the Astros is nothing compared to the rest of the chronicle, esp Ortiz and Smith who are horrendous. Problem with the Chronicle's coverage is that everyone who is good (Justice, Levine) finds their way to bigger and better things and only the subpar remain.
My (completely unfounded and speculative) suspicion is that the sportswriter reactions to Porter's firing and the Cosart trade are in part the writers being bitter over losing their sources
I suspect you'd also want to know whether the batter is using ash or maple
ack, that's not really the article I'm looking for. Somewhere out there there's an article devoted to all his (often ludicrous) injuries, like the time he shattered a tooth after putting a cupcake in the microwave too long, which warmed the cupcake but superheated the icing
I meant Kevin Mitchell: http://www.si.com/vault/1997/06/16/228401/livin-large-oft-injured-kevin-mitchell-loves-toys-and-clubhouse-high-jinks-but-the-former-mvp-is-also-a-guardian-angel--and-more
No article about injury-proneness is complete without a Kevin Mitchell reference
Watching as a fan, the biggest problem he seemed to have with the Astros was mental rather than mechanical. He would hit the ball really hard sometimes, but it wasn't nearly often enough. He took an fairly passive approach to hittable pitches early in the count, and would consequently end up 0-2 and 1-2 a lot. Go to his player card and check out the difference in swing rates in the middle part of the zone this year vs his previous career. The swing is clearly part of his improvement, but it's not the whole story.
The spending limits will not go away for precisely the reason you mention- they stiff future players to effectively reward current players. The MLBPA doesn't want draft expenses to be large enough to impinge on MLB payrolls, and the owners benefit from being able to sign talent a lot cheaper. There might be some modifications made, but the spending caps will not go away.
People comply with the NCAA because the NCAA can and will ban you for not complying. It's pretty simple.
Schools don't ditch the NCAA because they make too much money as part of the NCAA, and also because the NCAA is a legal shield that limits the liability a school might have without it. Athletes might be better off if the NCAA went away but schools would not.
The basic rules are that if you want to be an athlete at an NCAA school, then you have to abide by the NCAA's rules, which include submitting to more or less unlimited investigative powers to make sure you are complying. Given that an advisor is an employee of a student, their phone records are probably fair game. NCAA gets way, way more intrusive than that in some investigations (google around and find out). At a gut level it feels wrong because it's an invasion of privacy, but academic grades are also a private matter and it's totally uncontroversial for the NCAA to demand those to verify academic eligibility.
On the deadline day, there were reports that the Astros and Close were in direct contact. Those reports could obviously be incorrect, but all the NCAA would need to do is get the Astros's or Close's phone records to get certainty. If the reports are right then it's open-and-shut that Aiken violated the no-agent rule. Speculating on whetehr he did or not is 100% whether or not you believe the reports, although there's the possible ambiguity that since Close was advising both Aiken and Nix that it's unclear on whose behalf he was allegedly acting as an agent.
The issue is whether or not the NCAA is going to actually enforce a stupid rule when it will result in an obviously unfair result. They've done it as recently as a year ago, so most folks with any expertise writing about this incident will be 'no commenting' on this matter in a collective wish to give the NCAA plausible deniability to look the other way
Thanks for replying with substance rather than snark.
If you don't like that number, you are of course free to argue for another one. I gave a reason for using the number I did, if you're going to be that way at least come up with a reason you think it's wrong
.08 is an expected value, which was explained in the first post. You get it if you assume 1) The entire difference in performance between the <$100k bonus group and $100-250k bonus group is due to low pay 2) The $100-250k bonus group does not suffer low-pay effects 3) That of the players in the <$100k group who eventually produce >1 WAR, the average career WAR captured by the team below open market cost is 4. I invented this 4 WAR number by asssuming actual production would be 5 WAR (based on the % who produce >5 WAR and >1 WAR, 5 seems about the median) and that the amount captured by the team would be a little less (i.e. that under team control the player woudl get paid for some of that production). Under these assumptions, the expected value of paying your <100k bonus guys enough to avoid detrimental effects is the increase inprobability they produce non-negligible WAR for the team times the expected WAR the team captures conditional on the player being a non-neglible WAR producer. That would be 2% (from the table) * 4 WAR (my assumption, which can be argued but is quite reasonable) = .08 WAR.
Given that assumption 1) above is flat-out silly, I would think this .08 WAR estimate (which is an individual player figure) would be essentially the maximum possible benefit. If you take the realistic view that teams have some scouting skill and the intrinsic talent of the 100-250k bonus group (which based on slot values means mid 6th through maybe the 12th round) is higher than the <$100k bonus group, that .08 expected WAR figure would drop
A last note is that if you are looking at player level rather than aggregate, the investment model is not 'pay him 50k more one time, get .08 expected WAR' but rather 'pay him 50k more every year he's in the minors, get .08 WAR'. For college draftees it typically takes 3 years to crack the roster, for high schoolers 4-5. If you are applying this model to a HS draftee, your total cost gets up to $250k. If you are a fully bought-in believer that low pay accounts for more of the difference in outcomes than intrinsic ability, you can make a plausible economic case for the investment model. That's a real stretch though. "Plausible if you make extreme assumptions" is generally not a good enough threshold to get organizations to spend $10m on, and probably why none of them have
Before people rip me, I did notice a logical error- I mixed aggregate vs individual costs. the 0.08 WAR is of course individual and the 10m is aggregate. 0.08 WAR would be worth about %560k at $7m/WAR, or basically th eLM min
While that is massively higher that what they are paid, that number assume the entirety of the discrepancy in outcome is the reult of low pay, which is ludicrous. To get to a $50k salary, you would have to impute 10% of the discrepancy to that effect. This is plausiblee, but certainly not obvious
This kind of pay structure is ubiquitous in pretty much all entertainment industries-not just pro sports, but music and acting and the like. The basic reason is that enormous numbers of people want to do it and only comparatively few will 'make it', and the value produced by the people that don't is extremely low. There has to be some meachnism to weed out the people that won't make it and low pay is part of it. Is it fair or just? It's pretty easy to say 'no', but on the other hand, insisting the world owes you a middle class wage at age 20-22 for something with minimal economic value while you chase your dream is also a bit rich. The average starting salary of college graduates nowadays is only $35k.
On the intrinsic economics of the matter, the relevent group for this article is really only the <$100k bonus group (which of course is the majority of minor leaguers)- For players getting north of 100k bonuses, the implicit arrangement is that your bonus ought to be enough for you to avoid poverty and deprivation for at least 2-3 years, at which point it's time for you to be moving up or moving on. Players in the 100-250 bucket would of course want to live frugally since that has to last them until they either wash out or make it, but that ought to be sufficient to avoid any serious deprivation for a couple years.
On the table above, the difference in percentage of players who produce >1 WAR between the <$100k group and the $100-$250k group is only 2.1 pct points. At a 5-WAR threshold it's only 0.8 pct points. If we were to assume that entire difference was due to detrimental effects of low pay (i.e. that teams collectively have no skill whatsoever evaulating the potential talent between the two groups), then the payoff from the 'investment' model (i.e. that paying them more will make them better) is that percentage increase times the WAR the team captures below FA market rates conditional on the player making it. If that's say 4 WAR, then your expected value payoff for that 2% chance is only 0.08 WAR. 0.08 WAR is not worth $10m.
For the investment model to work at a cost of $10m, you have to assume that you are increasing the odds of players making it on the order of at least 10-15 pct points, and that the players that make it will be real contributors rather than marginal bench/bullpen guys. In order to do that, you also have to assume based on the table above that the detrimental effects from low pay extend to guys who got $200k bonuses, which seems like a stretch.
Can we have some kind of moratorium on [my favorite team] trades [contract we don't want anymore], [upcoming FA], and 2 B-grade prospects for Stanton posts?
Rather than fiddle with the mound, I'd start by just getting umps to stop calling strikes halfway down hitters' shins. Its been well documented that the called strike zone has tightened up on the outside corner but has expanded downward
I have a totally unverifiable theory about these extensions, which can accomodate Norris's comments without assuming they are just about sour grapes- That the owners and union are already pretty far along on the next CBA, that it will include some substantial (upward) changes to the current compensation system for players still under team control, and the outline of these changes are already more or less agreed to (but are highly secret and NDA'd as is de rigeur), and they intend on finalizing them before next offseason. Everyone wants peace to continue, the game is swimming in $, and Selig probably wants one last CBA inked or semi-inked before he retires.
If this is the case, then a good chunk of the higher pay teams are 'risking' is money they will probably have to shell out to players under control anyways under the next CBA. As team-friendly as a lot of these deals look, I bet they look a lot better under the next CBA. Regardless of what Norris thinks personally, he is implying that the union is actively advising players generally not to sign these extensions. The union really only needs one star to grind through arbitration to reset the scale upward (like Cabrera did), so my suspicion is that they are telling players "trust us, just wait until the All-Star break before you sign anything" rather than "don't sign the early extension"
re: Carter's comment, Sosa did nearly hit the lights once- it hit just under the light bank on the tower in LF, right on the corner of the metal, so the ricochet was straight down rather than back. It was a rocket, hit so hard there was this huge collective gasp from the crowd. 2nd hardest ball I've ever seen in my life (1st was a McGwire shot in 98)
I seriously doubt union opposition would be a serious hurdle. We're talking about teams trying to fork over a decent chunk of money in the interests of player health. If the union is concerned teams will manipulate the results to stiff players, I doubt the owners would object to giving players the right to take the MRI results and get 2nd/3rd opinions, and then give them a grievance procedure if they object to being placed on the DL
How much would it cost an ML team to simply implement a policy that every pitcher on the roster (perhaps extending down to AAA or AA) gets an MRI every other month, no matter what? That obviously could never be a solution at college or amateur levels, but for an ML team it could catch problems where a player is trying to hide an injury. Knowing the MRI is coming anyway might get players to be more frank with health staff
At a high level, the best way to end service time manipulation is to switch from a service time framework to an age-based framework. That probably couldn't happen since it would require a total revamp of the CBA structure. As a legal matter that might get dicey though. MLB could probably pull it off with the antitrust exemption, but they really don't like leaning on that nowadays.
There are a couple ways to fix the service-time issue. The 7th year of control is a fact of life for all intents and purposes, but you could end the incentive to keep rookies off opening day rosters by making the service-time cutoff 6.01 service years instead of 6.00, and specifically exempt September service time from the clock if it's the first time a guy gets called up.
Fixing the super-2 issue is harder. One possibility is to set the arbitration threshold at a fixed service time, which would at least clarify things. Another would be scrapping super-2 altogether. Obviously this would be an unequivocal negative for the union, so there'd have to be some kind of giveback, e.g. an NFL-style scaling up minimum where 2nd year players get 25% more than league min and 3rd-year players get 50% more than league min, and require mandatory bonuses for things like making the all-star team, awards, etc.
I'm an Astros homer and I don't even know who Jason Martin or Kyle Smith are.
I'm happy to see that PECOTA believes in Domingo Santana's numbers, but that is of course exactly what PECOTA does by construction
Just imagine what it it would look like in the alternate universe where the Brewers rather than the Astros were booted to the AL last year
Question for discussion: In 2016, will the NL Central be the strongest division in baseball? I'd say there's at least a 1/3 chance. The Cubs, Cards, and Bucs wll have fearsome amounts of talent, and even if the Reds and Brewers are weaker links their talent levels will still be quite respectable
Given the 70-win question that prompted all this, in what percentage of sims did they win 70?
"Invest now or forever hold your peace" sounds a lot like what Madoff would have said to the Wilpons
ack, I also mentally swapped Beane and Epstein but the point remains- the Cubs at $1.3b valuation (Forbes) paying 3.7m for a highly regarded CEO with demonstrated sucess in the past is comparable to what any other 1.3b company would pay for someone of that description. Maybe slightly less, but not an order of magnitude.
oops, c) above was supposed to say "any attempt to set pay in that way would be considered riotously unfair in baseball or any other labor situation"
I'm not at all denying that part of selection of talent creates real value or that some on-field performance is attributable to coaching and player development. What I am trying to say is that a) to attribute all of player improvement to coaching is silly b) even if it wasn't silly, in no actual industry or labor situation does pay reflect that kind attribution of value creation and c) any attempt to
Empirically, splitting apart player from player-development in baseball has not been done in any rigorous way, certainly not publicly (although several people in the broader SABR world have started trying). It's also difficult to do with any precision, since it's in no team's interest to make that kind of information known, and the slotting system and international bonus caps deny us any the ability to impute it from market prices (although perhaps 2-step valuations could be possible, e.g. using the common view that 'cap dollars' are worth 2x-3x real dollars). The bonuses handed out before the current CBA implied teams themselves thought the player's talent was worth quite a bit more than their ability to refine it.
I brought up the 10% rule-of-thumb because as different as pro sports are from other industries, they probably aren't that different, and seem to be progressively less different every day. Furthermore, like I pointed out, if you apply that 10% handicap to the numbers you came up with, then you get to a result that says that F/O personnel are underpaid, but by factors of 1.5-2x rather than an order of magnitude, and that fair pay levels would be roughly in line with pay levels in other professional settings. This jives with what one would think ought to be the case.
If you think of Billy Beane as an exceptionally good CEO of a $600m-ish market cap corporation (which is exactly what he is), then 3.7m is in the ballpark of what you'd expect him to be paid. There's no way he'd get or deserve $53m (or the lion's share of that) from any company of that size. The S&P 500 CEO average is more like $6-7m, but $600m valuation would not even be close to enough to put you in the S&P500. The Yankees at a $2.5b valuation would still be slightly too small for inclusion
re: F/O payscale, at some point you run into a philosophical argument regarding who is exactly contributing the wins. The players (and certainly the union) would say it's the players, not management, who is responsible since they are the ones actually on the field winning the games.
In most other industries, a standard rule of thumb that comes from research is that management skill accounts for roughly 10% of company out/under-performance relative to its peers. If you apply that to baseball and the above calcualtions, then the implied value from indivudual front office personnel then comes down into the range of normal for highly educated professionals. That's still way higher than actual payscales, but not somethign that would tell you to pay an intern like your 8th-inning reliever
Montgomery Burns called and asked for his sense of humor back
I'd love to see analyses of current & past 'quirky' (or at least quirky-looking) swings of past & present to see what makes them work. Jeff Bagwell's comes to mind
I have trouble with the idea of putting him above Andruw Jones. Perhaps a carer value over peak value consideration? Jones did fade pretty hard once he hit 30
I actually attended this game. Considering that I am an Astros fan and that I was also really hungover while at this game, I think I have a plausible claim to being the person who least enjoyed the worst game of the year
The whole idea that the opt-out clause is by itself somehow net-beneficial to the team vs the player is a pretty silly, too-clever-by-half argument. It's an option, options have value, and to give a player the option is to give him more value, even if it operates at the level of future expectation or probability. In any financial situation, you have to pay money if you want an option and sometimes a substantial amount.
That's not to say it's stupid or inefficient for teams to give such options in contracts. People do have a tendency to overvalue optionality, and for the team it may be cheaper to give a player the option value than to tack on more money or more years. Let's use Kershaw as an example- His extension gives him the option of another bite at the FA apple when he still expects to be a highly valuable pitcher. LAD's alternative to the opt-out may well have been a demand for a contract that takes him to age 35 or 36 at a higher salary. While there's obviously a risk that he gets hurt, doesn't exercise his opt-out and LAD gets a zero for the last two years, in the alternate scenario of a longer/more $ contract the damage from that outcome would be far worse.
Probably because this is an article about problems to fix. Back end of the bucs rotation is a potential problem, and Cole is pretty much the opposite of a problem
Two other tidbits about Berkman that should be known/memorialized:
First, he is the only athlete I am aware of who has succesffuly given himself a nickname. The origin story of "The Big Puma" is told here: http://blog.chron.com/fantasyfootball/2008/05/i-am-partly-responsible-for-the-nickname-big-puma-well-kind-of/
Second, the most comical of his fielding shenanigans occured at Rice, and is told in a great SI article about him from long ago (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1023115/index.htm). It is worth quoting in full:
"Five years ago, when Berkman was a sophomore at Rice, the Owls were playing at TCU. "The wind was blowing real hard that day from right to left," he says. "I was in leftfield, and the batter hit a sky-high fly to left." Berkman broke toward centerfield, but the wind started blowing the ball to his right. As he changed gears and headed that way, the wind kept pushing the ball farther toward the line. At the last possible moment a speeding Berkman slid, feet first, into the leftfield corner, but the ball fell into a pile of debris on the warning track. There were candy bar wrappers, Big Mac containers and—bingo!—a couple of white plastic bags. "When I slid, my left leg collided with the foul pole and went numb, and my right foot got stuck in the fence," he says. "Still, I reached over and picked up the ball. But in my rush to pick it up, I grabbed a plastic bag too."
Berkman looked up, saw the batter rounding second, shook off the plastic bag and, on one knee, tried to throw the ball to the infield. As soon as he released the ball, however, a gust of wind lifted the plastic bag. "I threw the ball, I'm not making this up, and it flew right into the plastic bag," Berkman says. "The ball, in the bag, dies after 30 feet. The hitter's going for an inside-the-park homer; my foot is stuck in the fence; I think my other leg's broken; and my coach is running down the third base line yelling, ' Berkman! You're the worst outfielder I've ever seen! You're a joke!' "
Berkman pauses to catch his breath, then smiles. "Anyone who was there," he says, "will tell you it was the most amazing thing they ever saw." "
The posting system change did not make much if any difference. The total $ that was going to be shelled out was not going to change much, it was merely a question of how much went to Tanaka vs his NPB team. On that alone, MLBPA would have a slight preference out of principle for the player to receive the money, but it doesn't really have a dog in that fight beyond the 2nd-order effect of a larger contract for Tanaka (vs larger posting fee) probably meaning larget contracts for domestic FA pitchers.
The MLBPA would probably strongly prefer a system in which the total outlay was capped, which is exactly what they got for both the US amateur draft and international pool outside of Japan, Korea, Mexico, and Cuba. They can't and won't be able to pull that off for Japanese (or Korean) players because it would result in the top players never coming to MLB.
MLBPA does and will consistently want payment structures that which favor current members at the expense of non-members, even if the non-members are future members. They do it because they are a union, and that's how practically every union in any time and place operates.
This might be apocryphal, but allegedly Andre Agassi once went to a batting cage and had it turned up as fast as it would go, which was in the neighborhood of the low 90s. He apparently got so bored with how easy it was that he started running at the machine and still hit lazers. Even if that's not true I'd have to think he could have had an Ichiro-type baseball career
That the Phillies are signing someone who was so bad he got cut from the 2013 Astros says a lot about where they are. Yea, yea yea, minor league deal... but still
Fair enough, but as far as the rules go the only limitation has been that no one besides the catcher can line up in foul territory. The potential to shift is not at all new, nor are attempts to try oddball shifts. I also seriously doubt there will be any movement to change the rules, especially in the context of baseball where the unchanging nature of the rules is a cornerstone of anything traditionalist. The arguments against shifts are generally about effectiveness. Managers are criticized for shifting in the way they are criticized for replacing 3.25 ERA RHPs with 4.75 ERA LHPs for a platoon advantage on one batter- is the situational advantage worth the tradeoffs? The reason shifts in the past didn't stick is that they weren't obviously big improvements. We may be able to determine today with more comprehensive data that they are small improvements that require big samples to detect, but I wouldn't expect anything that turns baseball into anything that doesn't "look like baseball". I expect shading fielders within recongizably standard alignment to get a lot more mileage than any kind of complete refiguring of the field. Especially in situations with runners on base, the need to deter SBs and to not allow extra bases for free will limit how far from each base you'll want fielders.
With 1B/3B, are assuming they swap mitts every other hitter, or are you assuming they keep their respective gloves and live with the limitations?
I'm not a fan of these kinds of discussions when they take on the flavor of dueling "Forces of Progress and Enlightenment vs Stupid and Boring Reactionaries" and "Guardians of Wise & Venerable Tradition vs Juvenile Idiots Infatuated With Novelty" narratives. Can't it simply be about efficiency without ego and self-image anxiety? Teams do things to try to win, not to be on or against "the side of disruption". The point of proposing or trying a shift is not to make you or Michael Baumann feel a little uncomfortable. The point IS necessarily to make them work.
As an aesthetic matter, I'm in favor of shifts precisely in order to make hitters beat them. I like the ethos of the "complete ballplayer" and strategies that punish players for incompleteness or un-adaptability. If defenses offer hitters a practically free single if they can push a decent bunt, I like hitters who take the freebie (and who have practiced the skills that allow them to pull it off). In my perfect world shifts would be rare because most hitters would beat them on average, making them self-defeating. Reality may look like forcing hitters to adapt to get there by shifting until they do.
They were indeed very good, but there is something particularly painful in watching a well-run franchise slide year-by-year until becoming the worst-run franchise in baseball, and then even after cleaning house in the F/O, watching them bottom out with a 3-year stretch of .333 ball
An further advantage of the let-the-kids-play approach is the flexibility it gives- if you let the kids play and end up with a guy who produces at sub-replaement level, it's pretty easy and cheap to cut bait and move on, and all you've lot is the sub-replacement PAs/IPs he's given you. In contrast, if you want a 1.5+ win free agent you usually have to commit to more than 1 year. If he turns out to not give you the value you're paying him for, you're going to have to eat the money regardless.
If you had to make Morneau prediction, what would it be? Contenders won't want him to start, but I could see the Astros signing him as a stopgap until Singelton is ready (or insurance in case he isn't) and then trading him at deadline time.
The Luhnow regime has now had only 2 drafts, one of which was still with a lot of Wade-regime personnel (scouting director, etc) and so you are still looking at a minors system (including top guys) that include several Ed Wade-era picks, specifically Springer, Foltynewicz, Velasquez, and DeShields. Wade's draft philosophy was 'highest ceiling', and while the 08 & 09 drafts were mostly complete failures, '10 and '11 seem to be alright so far. Judging whether "the Astros" draft well by looking at the whole system right now is lumping togther 2 very different front offices.
Given that none of Luhnow's picks have cracked the majors yet you can only make preliminary judgements, but there are several things that thus far have turned out well: The 2012 draft had no clear, obvious #1. Correa signed for substantially less than slot, which allowed the Astros to draft & sign McCullers and Ruiz, both of whom were considered first-round talent but too risky to draft in the first (both recovering from injury) but unsignable for less than first round money. The ability to sign all of them only existed by virture of having the #1 pick and associated spending limit, that Correa looks like a stud and both McCullers and Ruiz look like they'll be solid ML players means Luhnow went 3-for-3 with that opportunity. The real test of "drafting well" though will be the if/when we see the non-1st round picks from '12 and '13 graduate from low minors and look like future ML players
As a long suffering Astros fan, I'm thrilled to see a lot of 2014 ETAs on this list. Question about those though- how many who of these 2014 ETAs are because of the MLB talent level (or lack thereof), or is this all purely readiness-driven?
I would add 2 more items to the "pitchbook" for implementing an idea:
1) Is there a halfway solution that's easier and cheaper to implement, which could later be expanded to the full-blown proposal if it looks promising? In your "food for kids" example, the halfway solution would be catering only during home games / off days the team is at home. The logistics would be vastly simpler, and there still ought to be partial benefit on improved nutrition
2) If it doesn't work, how easily could you drop the idea? As with any proposal, "what could go wrong?" is never exactly a selling point, but establishing "The Worst Case Scenario is Pretty Benign" can and does go a long way towards getting a new idea to be tried.
regardless of whether or not blown saves are traumatic for young pitchers, 25 of them is definitely traumatic for the fans. Its their mental health that needs to be the concern
True. The numbers do look pretty clearly incorrect. That said, if the Astros are not running a substantial profit with their current payroll, that's a big problem of a different kind
I agree. I'm an Astros fan, and 100% on board with Luhnow's scrap-everything-and-rebuild strategy if it gets them back to contention sooner on its pure baseball merits. That said, that this strategy also happens to coincide precisely with good corporate LBO strategy is unlikely to be coincidence. As a fan I want the rebuilding to succeed, and I want the 2016 Astros to be paying that $20M to Giancarlo Stanton (maybe) rather than BofA, but I don't want MLB's revenue sharing system (of which the Astros are a beneficiary this year) hijacked to make an LBO work out. $275M of $610M is fairly high leverage for a sports franchise, and I think the MLBPA ought to push for tighter leverage limits on future franchise purchases.
That would play a part. However, speaking as one of the few people who gets and watches CSN-Houston, the sourcs and production quality of the ads during Astros games make me think they are not getting a whole lot of money that way.
If you assume 7.5% interest rate (made up but plausible, it's essentially unsecured LBO debt), the debt service would come to a little over $20M. That's a meaningful, significant number in this context. Repaying the principle like is (and ought to be) a high priority
minor quibble, isn't the dog that didn't bark from The Hound of the Baskervilles?
Several unconnected questions/musings (in all cases, I use "WAR" to describe the concept and "WARP" to describe the calculated statistic):
1) Both the play outcome --> run value and run value --> win value legs of any WAR methodology are things that ought to float from year to year (or at least era to era) based on overall environment. A run in 1962 is worth a lot more than a run in 1998. Similarly, the relative value of HR vs BB would be different given that in a lower offensive environment a walk would have a lower expectation of scoring. Is that something already accounted for in WARP? If not, is it something you plan to include? Would you make similar AL/NL adjustments? The presence/absence of the DH would have similar effects on runs->wins and outcomes->runs
2) The discussion above on offensive, defensive, and baserunning WAR above is a bit circular, but gets at an important point- Is "replacement level" going to be defined at the player level or skill-component level? That is to say, is a 0 WARP player someone who is not just a bad hitter, but slow and stonehands as well? Or is 0 WAR going to mean awful with the stick but not a disaster in the field or on the basepaths (or some equivalent skill mix that gets the the same place)?
2b) The component-level vs player-level definition of replacement level gets at the fundamental assumption of talent distribution behind WAR, which is that it's a pyramid (or some kind of highly skewed distribution like Pareto or the truncated edge of a normal curve, etc), and that such a distribution implies that there's a certain production level that is so ubiquitous as to have zero scarcity value. This is pretty demonstrably the case for hitting and pitching (probably pitching, I'm not 100% sold on it), but given that defensive stats are by no means mature, can we assert with any confidence that it is also true in the field? Even if it's true in some metaphysical sense, is it true in the population of players who hit well enough to potentially put on a 25-man roster?
3) I would think avoiding "average" in any mathematical formulation of WARP would be ideal if possible. The whole conception behind WAR is the skewed talent distribution, and a big part of the usefulness of WARP is that it measures that skew. By building in any reference to "average" into the definition you are inherently assuming a particular level of skew, which then creates a circular measuring-what-you-assume problem. A system that defines replacement level based on percentile-of-players is a much better fit with the concept or WAR. That said, going with a percentile-based (or ranking-based) definition presents its own set of difficulties, particularly when you start trying to measure position value.
3b) I put "average" in scare quotes because it's a very slippery word with several possible meanings in a player-value context. First of all, given that we're dealing with a skewed talent distribution, do we really mean "median" rather than average? Even if we are talking about an average rather than a median, what kind of weighting do you use? Averages based on league-wide aggregate stats are weighted by plate appearance, and for obvious reasons better players will have more PAs than worse players. The result is that "average" calculated from leaguewide aggregates will be higher than "average" calculated in a way where each player counts equally