Should teams that aren't expected to contend really always be sellers?
In a three-week period last December, the A’s traded the only two starting pitchers who had thrown 200 innings for them in the previous year, and the team’s closer. The moves left the A's with a starting rotation of Brandon McCarthy, one empty spot, and three pitchers who had a) combined for 17 starts in their careers and b) had never appeared on a Baseball America top 100.
The state of the team’s rotation, though, didn’t seem to matter. The A’s were not playing for this year, and with three trades in three weeks they made that very clear. Rather than criticize the A’s for failing to put a competitive team on the field, it was safe to applaud Billy Beane for putting Oakland in a position to someday put a competitive team on the field, someday in the future, someday after 2012. They punted. A prudent move.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Once upon a time, the Marlins were big sellers, not big buyers. Their reputation took years to recover from their last big sell-off, but are firesales sometimes justified?
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
Nate tackled the question of when it makes sense to be a seller in the article reproduced below, which originally ran as a "Lies, Damned Lies" column on November 22, 2005.
A look at the ALCS match-up between the Tigers and Rangers
Why the Tigers Will Win: Detroit boasts the best pitcher (Justin Verlander) and the best hitter (Miguel Cabrera) in the series. What’s that? Baseball is a team sport, you say? Okay, so cherry-picking players might not be the most honest means of handicapping a series, and Detroit is the underdog, the usual crapshoot caveats aside. However, you have to assume that Jose Valverde will guarantee victory at the first hint of a lead. So far he’s been almost infallible, except for the bit about the ALDS not going to Game Five.
In his fifth Asian Equation column, Michael looks at the relievers who have enjoyed modest success--and failure--making the move from Japan to America.
The last group in my analysis of the player’s who have migrated to MLB from Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) are the relievers, the least appreciated members of a successful baseball team. Yet, of all NPB imports, they have been the most numerous (explaining the length of this article, for which I apologize in advance) and the cheapest. Diminished quality is the most obvious reason for these extremes, since starters who don’t meet MLB standards get shifted to the bullpen, and lesser talents also keep salaries down. Additionally, the typical NPB pitcher’s arsenal matches well with an MLB reliever’s skillset.
As I discussed in my last Asian Equation article, NPB is a breaking ball league, which translates better to relief than starting. A good breaking ball might fool major league hitters the first or second time they see it in a game, but it probably won’t the third or fourth time. As an illustration, here’s how batter OPS rises against two of the biggest NPB starting-pitcher busts as compared with three current MLB pitchers: the best, the most mediocre, and an old junkballer. While MLB batters’ performance improves against each pitcher the more times they see him in a game, the change is far more dramatic with Matsuzaka and Kawakami.
There's no denying it, this is the division where the big boys come to play.
It's no secret that the American League East has been the game's strongest division in recent years. They've produced the highest winning percentage and Hit List Factor by far over the past three years, as well as the last three AL pennant winners, two of the last three World Series champions, and the strongest fourth-place team of the wild-card era. With the two highest average payrolls, those of the Yankees and Red Sox, and a reliance on more free-agent muscle than any other division, this is baseball's high-rent district, though not every team is trying to spend with the big boys. As part of my ongoing series on the game's competitive ecology (introduced via a division-based overview, and continued with a look at the NL East), today we delve further into some numbers that illustrate that diversity.
It may seem as though everyone involved in the Aces-for-Prospects swaps came out ahead, but it simply isn't so.
The Blue Jays, Phillies, Mariners, and Athletics put together a blockbuster trade that has rarely been seen in baseball history: nine players will belong to new organizations next year, including two former Cy Young winners very much in their prime.
The Rockies knot things up while Los Dos Angeles take leads in their respective series.
Jim Tracy is going to win the NL Manager of the Year Award, because when you take over a team in May and that team plays .600 baseball under you and makes the playoffs, that's just the way it goes. When I wrote about the Rockies in July, I noted that their success seemed in part to be due to personnel decisions Tracy had made, largely in improving the defense.
Tweaking the system to better evaluate the benefits of draft position.
Way back in August of 2009, I tried to evaluate major league front offices on how efficiently they were spending their payroll dollars, building on the work of Doug Pappas and Nate Silver. I called it MR3/ExpMR-which was horrible. So from now on, we're going with Payroll Efficiency Rating, or PER. So there.