Friday, November 24, 2006

Wait Till Next Year

This MLB offseason, we've seen the dawn of a new economy, with teams offering big-money, long-term contracts to players who aren't exactly hall of famers.

Juan Pierre, he of the career 727 OPS, got five years at $9 million from the Dodgers for his age 29-33 seasons. Alfonso Soriano's set to make $17 million a year through 2014. Sori was tremendous in 2006, but only two guys are signed through 2013: Soriano and David Wright. Wright will be 30 that year; Soriano will be 38. And now, Gary Matthews, Jr will get $10 million each season from the Angels while he's 32-36 , despite a mediocre career line of .263/.336/.419.

All of these guys are past their prime, yet their average yearly salary is but $2 million less than that of Albert Pujols! What's the one thing Pierre, Mathews and Soriano (not to mention Mark DeRosa and Nomar Garciaparra) have in common? They're all available now. Teams are spending like there's no tomorrow, busting their budgets on mid-level talent, but the smart GM's should wait till next year.

Looking at a list of players who will hit free agency in 2007, who would you rather have...
  • CF: Juan Pierre or Milton Bradley (pictured)? Bradley is a year younger than Pierre and has a career OPS over 50 points higher, 783 to 727. Bradley hit more home runs in 2006 than Pierre's hit his entire career.

  • CF: Gary Matthews Jr. or Andruw Jones? Andruw is almost three years younger and has a career OPS almost 100 points higher, 850 to 755.

  • CF(?): Alfonso Soriano or Vernon Wells? Sure, Soriano's a 40-40 guy, but Wells is more than a year younger, plays gold-glove defense in center, and has a career OPS of 828 to Soriano's 835.

  • 1B: Nomar Garciaparra or Adam Dunn? Dunn is more than six years younger, has stayed injury-free, and his career OPS of 893 isn't far off Garciaparra's 907.

  • 2B: Mark DeRosa or Marcus Giles? Giles is almost three years younger and has a career OPS of 809, compared to DeRosa's 735.

Other marquee 2007 free agents? Chris Carpenter, Carlos Guillen, Ichiro, Michael Young and Carlos Zambrano. If your team missed out on the Skyline Matsuzaka sweepstakes or has thus far failed to sign anyone, don't complain that your GM is sitting on his hands. Instead, praise him for saving money today so he can spend it next year, when a real free agent class hits the market.


Anonymous said...

this is mindless. You just don't get it.

Milton Bradley? Seriously? Do you think a team brings in Juan Pierre for his OPS, or even more ridiculous, his home run totals??? He led the NL in hits last year, can steal bases at will, and is a tireless worker in the off-season. Bradley certainly hits more homeruns than Pierre...but he's a cancer to any team he's been on. He doesn't steal. He's a free swinger. Not someone you could even by the greatest stretch of the imagination compare to Pierre.

Andruw Jones - will cost more than $10m per year.

Soriano/Wells - "Gold Glove Defense"...Soriano led the majors in outfield assists, in his first year out there...compiling 22...the next closest total in the majors was 16. Not to mention, Soriano's OPS has climbed each year for the past 3 years. Wells has done nothing outside of this past year.

"Wait until next year"...just tell the fans that. I'm sure they'll line up to buy tickets.

Fatkid said...

Hmm not sure I agree with your examples either but I agree with your overall argument that this years crop of free agents is weak and you should look to invest your budget in the future. Milton Bradley is certifiable, but the guy who was sweatin Juan Pierre didn't watch him last year. He's a good player, but if I were a GM I would not want to commit to a long term deal with a guy who's game is dependent on his legs who is almost 30. As for Soriano, please watch him play defense and do not just look at outfield assist stats. Wells is a gold glover because he does everything a fielder is supposed to do. Soriano first of all plays left field which is less valuable, but also is an adventure on fly balls. He often takes poor routes to balls and they drop (something that doesn't show up in the box score). I will give Soriano credit for being adequate in the field considering he had been a career infielder, but to compare him to Wells is ridiculous. As for Wells offensively since he became an every day player in 2002 he has been extremely consistent. 2004 was his worst year when he missed some time (134 games) batted 272, 23 HR, 67 RBI. Every other year was more like .285, 28 HR, and 100 RBI. Very good CF #'s. I think if I were a GM I would look within my organization and extend contracts of existing young talent now several years before they become eligible for free agency (Like the Mets did with Wright and Reyes those contracts look like bargains now).

Anonymous said...

Playing the outfield at Wrigley ain't rocket science. If the ball is within the walls, you should be able to get to it, especially in left or right. Also on the subject of the cubs, Pierre is a stud. I was there. Often. The interesting thing to me is why the Dodgers were so intent on bringing him in? They've already got a similar leadoff man in Furcal (who i guess goes to 2 hole now). Is $50 million worth it, when you consider you are bringing in something you already have? (Not to mention Lofton...but he's well over his life exp...)

A gold glove in the outfield is overrated. Further, I'd love to see Wells put up numbers in a division with at least some pitching. Facing the Oriole/Devil Ray/Yankee staffs 50 times per year makes for a nice buffer.

David Wright & Jose Reyes are the rarest of young talent. Easier said than done to just 'extend contracts to young the mets did with Wright & Reyes'. Cubs young talent, that isn't signed...lets see...yeah...not much coming to mind. Rich Hill is the most promising MLB-ready young talent. Otherwise...yowza.

Fatkid said...

I'm a Met fan but I have to say the American League East's pitching is better than than or at the very least equal to any National League division's pitching. The AL central is the strongest division with the Tigers, Twins, White Sox, and Indians but I certainly wouldn't put the AL East that far down the list. The Orioles and the Ray's staffs stink, but though it pains me to defend the Yankees, you can't throw their staff in with them. Wang is very, very good, Mussina is still pretty good, Randy Johnson is good 50% of the time and they still have Rivera. Sad to say that staff would dominate in the NL. I agree with you with regard to Gold Gloves, they are overrated (see Derek Jeter) (ahh that makes up for defending the Yanks). But Wells is an excellent fielder and I hope for the Cubs sake they don't put Soriano in center.

Quality said...

Perhaps the term "Gold Glove defense" needs to be further clarified. I was using it as an adjective to describe the ability of Wells as a CF rather than as a factual matter ("he has won a Gold Glove" - a "fact" of which I'm not even positive).

Great advances have been made in objectively rating fielders. Look at Clay Davenport at BP, John Dewan's plus-minus system or Dave Pinto's Probabilistic Model of Range. Those systems all rate Pierre as an average fielder.

My point still stands: You don't want to pay $$$ to guys on the wrong side of 30 who don't bring much to the table aside from speed. Pierre doesn't walk or hit for power, so his league-leading hit total is rather meaningless. Less so is Pierre's propensity to make 500 outs in a season.