If you're in the middle of the pack when it comes to free agent acquisition budget, you're in a great position to improve your team this month.
Welcome to the All-Star break, fantasy players. If you’re reading this right now, chances are you still have a pretty good chance of winning your league, so congratulations! Today, I wanted to talk about a good value proposition that usually presents itself around this time of year.
If you’ve followed my early-season advice of being aggressive with your FAAB budget, chances are you’re sitting somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of FAAB remaining. You’ve made a few buys, many of which have hopefully worked out, but several of your competitors have been pinching pennies in anticipation of MLB’s trade deadline while a few others have blown their stakes early. In Tout Wars and LABR, I find myself in this exact position:
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Bernie Williams burned it up with the Yankees during his career, but did the Puerto Rican do enough to blaze a trail to the Hall?
Before Derek Jeter, there was Bernie Williams. As the Yankees emerged from a barren stretch of 13 seasons without a trip to the playoffs from 1982-1994, and a particularly abysmal stretch of four straight losing seasons from 1989-1992, their young switch-hitting center fielder stood as a symbol for the franchise's resurgence. For too long, the Yankees had drafted poorly, traded away what homegrown talent they produced for veterans, and signed pricey free agents to fill the gaps as part of George Steinbrenner's eternal win-now directive. But with Steinbrennerbanned by commissioner Fay Vincent and the Yankees' day-to-day baseball operations in the hands of Gene Michael, promising youngsters were allowed to develop unimpeded.
In his third column on Japanese-American player movement, Michael looks at the position players who followed in the wake of the unique Ichiro Suzuki.
Thus far in the Asian Equation series, I’ve explained the early history of Japanese-American baseball traffic which lead to the posting system and the signing of Ichiro Suzuki, who is among the most idiosyncratic players in either league. As we discussed in the comments section, the success of one unique player from Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) doesn’t mean that all of them can succeed, a logical fallacy that has eluded many baseball executives.
Although the feeding frenzy has declined lately, the last decade was marked by many teams gambling on the next Eastern import, hoping for another Ichiro to take them to the next level. A few players have succeeded, collecting World Series rings and postseason acclaim, but many of them have simply survived—a dream for any player, but not what the general managers were laying out serious cash for.
Here is how we're now figuring the monetary value of individual players.
This article will follow up on the new version of MORP that I introduced yesterday with a more thorough description of my methodology and my reasoning for it. Firstly, I will restate that the definition of MORP (Market value Over Replacement Player) is the marginal cost of acquiring a player’s contribution on the free-agent market. The basic structure that I am using includes adjusting for draft-pick compensation, which adds to the value of free agents by 10-20 percent. It also looks at all players with six years or more of major-league service time, all years of their free-agent contracts, and makes valuations of their performance based on actual performance rather than the projections, which are biased. I am also adjusting MORP so it is linear with respect to WARP. The discussion of linearity and of the decision to use actual rather than projected performance to evaluate contracts has been detailed in earlier articles, and I won’t reiterate them here in the interest of space. The basic reason why linearity is a fair assumption is that teams frequently have enough vacancies that they can add the number of wins they choose without filling them all. There are exceptions like the 2009 Yankees, who added three front-of-the-rotation starters and an elite first baseman in one offseason. However, even the Yankees do this infrequently enough that it does not regularly impact the market, and without two teams bidding for several superstars every offseason, this is not a large issue. The reason that using projection is so problematic was detailed last week, when I showed how free agents who reach the open market are a biased sample and regularly underperform their projections. For more details of these results, please see my previous work. Here are links to my threepartseries as well as my article on free agents underperforming their PECOTA projections. I will introduce some of the newer concepts in this article.
GM Ned Colletti explains the Dodgers' quiet offseason, Chris Antonetti moves into the on-deck circle in Cleveland, and other news and notes.
The Dodgers came across during the offseason as a franchise paralyzed by owner Frank McCourt serving divorce papers to his wife Jamie (who was also the club's CEO), a move that, of all things, came to light in the midst of the team's loss to the Phillies in the National League Championship Series last October.
Does expanding the pool of candidates at a position create relative bargains?
The recent signings of Placido Polanco and Chone Figgins by the Phillies and Mariners came in at relatively inexpensive deals compared to what the recent value of their performances might suggest. Polanco certainly seems like at least an average hitter for a third baseman, and is likely to play at least average defense at third as well. As I'll get into, the typical market rate for a third baseman of Polanco's abilities as a 34-year-old would be for about $25 million for a three-year deal. However, Polanco signed for $18 million plus a mutual option.
The 2009 MVPs talk about the future, the Yankees mull their options, plus rumors and rumblings.
It has been suggested from about the second plate appearance of his increasingly Cooperstown-like career that Joe Mauer needs to change positions. However, the Twins' superstar has been reluctant to even think about moving out from behind the plate. The reasoning goes that Mauer's offensive effort would eventually suffer from the physical and mental toll taken from a catcher. Catcher is the position I've been playing ever since I was a kid," Mauer said. "I like catching. I like being involved in the game on every pitch. I really can't imagine myself playing another position. Maybe later in my career I could but not now. I don't thinking playing catcher has had any effect on my performance."
The season's top skippers take their bows, plus new metrics enter into the voting picture, and rumors and rumblings.
Mike Scioscia is a testament to stability in an era when managers and coaches are being fired at a rapid rate in the major professional sports leagues. Scioscia has managed the Angels for the last 10 seasons, giving him the third-longest tenure among current major-league skippers. The Braves' Bobby Cox moved down for the general manager's office to replace manager Russ Nixon on June 22, 1990, and now has 19 full seasons of service with Atlanta. Tony La Russa completed his 14th season with the Cardinals this season.
The offseason has barely begun, but already there has been a flurry of moves. Here's what to look forward to next.
Well, so much for the theory that the groundwork for trades is made at the general manager's meetings and consummated at the Winter Meetings. Four significant trades were made this week, and we're only entering our fourth day of the offseason. The GM meetings start tomorrow in Chicago, and there is better-than-even chance at least one deal will be made there. Heck, by the time the winter meetings get underway December 7 in Indianapolis, there might not be anybody left to trade. Thus, it behooves us to take a look at the trade market before it dries up.
Philadelphia Phillies: Their situation is similar to the Yankees'-they have a productive yet imperfect offense and a pitching staff that hasn't lived up to expectations. They can give the offense a very small goose by turning to catching prospect Lou Marson, whose Triple-A numbers translate to .271/.353/.343 in the majors. Other offensive problems, such as Jimmy Rollins' complete breakdown, are harder to solve-MVP-level shortstops aren't freely available. Starting pitching solutions seem most likely to come from outside the organization, hence the Phillies ranking among the teams mentioned as suitors for a Halladay deal. It might be cheaper to give top prospect Carlos Carrasco a test-drive first; Carrasco has a disappointing 5.00 ERA for the season, but his ERA has been almost a run lower in his last ten starts.