NFL playoffs are right around the corner, but ’tis the season for a jolt of baseball excitement too, as teams sign new players. The contracts are getting bigger and bigger, supported by growing MLB revenues. Some of the major signings under the tree this year (more here):
- Zack Greinke, 6 yrs, $147 million (Dodgers)
- Josh Hamilton, 5 yrs, $125 million (Angels)
- B.J. Upton, 5 yrs, $75 million (Rays)
- Anibal Sanchez, 5 yrs, $80 million (Tigers)
But before you start thinking playoffs, remember that many big deals don’t work out. Who will be nice and who will be naughty this year?
The Old Lumps of Coal
From the list above, Greinke is 29 years old, Hamilton is 31, Upton is 28, and Sanchez is 28. Not many young players are available through free agency, but are these 4 to 6 year deals for 28 to 31 year olds a good idea? I tackled this question with my friend Jeff Phillips for ESPN the Magazine in early October.
Specifically, we wondered if long deals for 30 year olds made more sense during the steroid era, when players could recover, train, and maintain more easily. There are two sides of the coin: (1) how has older player performance changed, and (2) has older player compensation evolved appropriately. We focused on players in the top quarter of the salary distribution, since that’s where the big money is spent. To measure performance, we examined average Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP)* by age during and after the steroid era:
Uh oh. Although performance for all highly paid players has gone down, older “stars” have turned out to be coal indeed. Looking year by year highlights the post-PED age decline. Average WARP for older and younger stars was remarkably similar through the steroid era, but older player WARP Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Causal Analysis, Financial Analysis, Prediction, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged age and performance, Age and steroids, aging, aging baseball, Albert Pujols, Angel Pagan, Angels, Anibal Sanchez, average salary, B.J. Upton, baseball, contracts, David Ortiz, Detroit Tigers, ESPN The Magazine, Fielder contract too long, free agent projections, Jake Peavy, Jeff Phillips, Josh Hamilton, lumps of coal, Major League Baseball, Michael Bourn, Mike Napoli, Mitchell Report, MLB free agent market 2013, MLB free agents, MLB revenue, MLB revenue growth, Nick Swisher, older stars, Post-steroid era baseball, Prince Fielder, projected value, projections, Pujols contract, rising salaries MLB, salary distribution, Shane Victorino, Sports, Steroid era MLB, steroids and age, steroids and aging, Torii Hunter, WARP, worst contracts, worst contracts MLB, Zack Greinke
Incredibly, the Blue Jackets turned them down! I thought the Redskins trade for the second pick in the NFL draft (used to select Robert Griffin III) was crazy. The Islanders offered the fourth pick along with six other picks. How could the Blue Jackets — who are terrible — refuse the chance to collect six extra prospects? Doing so would give them trade assets and limit their risk exposure substantially. Even if their second pick (highly regarded defenseman Ryan Murray) works out, how can he possibly be worth more than seven draft-worthy players, including the fourth overall pick?
As in the NFL, I was shocked by the value the Blue Jackets and Islanders placed on the second pick. There’s so much risk involved with top draft picks. Given the price teams are willing to pay, why not trade them for known quantities (current NHLers) or multiple picks slightly lower down? I made this same argument about the first pick in the NFL draft this year. Just because Andrew Luck is “the best quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning” (or whoever) doesn’t mean the Colts should have drafted him. The value of that pick was astronomical precisely because Andrew Luck is considered to be a sure thing, when we all know there’s no such thing as a “sure thing” in a sports draft.
Edit: At least the Bobcats have realized that they should trade the second pick this year. Even if they had the first pick (which they surely would keep), I would suggest that they at least check Anthony Davis’s market value.
Posted in Basketball, Common Sense, Football, Hockey, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged Andrew Luck, Anthony Davis, Blue Jackets, Blue Jackets dumb, Blue Jackets Islanders draft trade, Blue Jackets Ryan Murray, Blue Jackets should have traded second pick, Blue Jackets turn down trade, Bobcats trade second pick, Charlotte Bobcats, Colts should have traded Andrew Luck, Colts should have traded first pick, Columbus Blue Jackets, Indianapolis Colts, Islanders trade every pick, Islanders trade whole draft, National Hockey League, New York Islanders, NFL, Peyton Manning, Redskins gave up too much for Robert Griffin, Redskins trade, Robert Griffin III, Robert Griffin trade dumb, Ryan Murray, top draft picks overrated, top draft picks risky, Washington Redskins
When the Nuggets resigned Nene to a large contract in the off season, I wrote that they were making the most of a bad situation (few marquee free agents available, Nene not worth the money). Today, they admitted as much by trading Nene in a three team deal that landed them talented but unreliable JaVale McGee.
Although the Nuggets have bucked the trend slightly by having some success post-Iverson and Carmelo, my preferred models for NBA success are the South Beach Talents and the Seattle Scientists. The Talents involve trading or signing two (or three!) top 15 players, and spending the spare change on spare parts to fill out the roster. The theory is that mid range guys are overpaid, so just spend you money at the top and bottom.
If you’re a small market, it’s tough to attract stars these days, so I suggest the Scientists, a hypothetical NBA team that attacks a different undervalued asset: effort. The Scientists hire guys who will be in better shape and work harder than every other team. They press on offense AND defense.
The Nuggets are neither of these. They are doing okay with their strategy of paying mid range guys (Afflalo is another example); they have the 6 seed right now. However, they probably aren’t a championship team. Wouldn’t it be fun to try something new instead?
Posted in Basketball, Innovative Ideas, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged bad situation, basketball, Denver Nuggets, free agents, ideas for NBA teams, JaVale McGee, JaVale McGee trade, Los Angeles Clippers, low effort NBA, mid range, National Basketball Association, NBA, NBA players don't try, nba team, NBA team models, Nene, Nuggets, Nuggets trade Nene, Nuggets Wizards Clippers trade, Seattle Scientists, South Beach Talents, spare change, Sports, Washington Wizards
If this is what the second pick is worth, I can only imagine what the first pick is worth.
Seriously, that is a lot of picks to give up for a college quarterback. The Browns made a similar offer, only to be outbid! Couldn’t the Redskins (or the Browns) have gotten an above average NFL QB for that price instead? What if Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin get hurt? What if they just aren’t any good? If I were the Colts, I would trade the first pick too and let someone else gamble on Luck.
Posted in Football, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged Andrew Luck, Andrew luck overrated, Colts should trade the first pick, dumb trade Redskins, football, Indianapolis Colts, Luck is a gamble, Mike Shanahan, National Football League, NFL, NFL draft, Quarterback, Rams trade second overall pick, Redskins gave up too much, Redskins overpaid for the second pick, Robert Griffin III, Robert Griffin overrated, second overall pick, Shanahan stupid trade, St. Louis Rams, Washington Redskins
The Celtics are hanging onto the 8 seed for dear life. Last night, they got a big win over the Cavaliers (who are ninth) and managed to tie up the Knicks for the 7 seed. In Boston, most people realize that this group is done. I’m reminded of the Pistons in ’08-09; here’s the IMDB:
PG-13 (66 games and 1 playoff round) – Sports Action
In 2008-2009, the Detroit Pistons are coming off six straight Eastern Conference finals appearances. However, their core players — Chauncey Billups, Richard “Rip” Hamilton, and Rasheed Wallace — are aging, Continue reading
Posted in Basketball, Commentary, Pop Culture, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged 08 09 Pistons, Allen Iverson, Antonio McDyess, Arron Afflalo, Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics, Brandon Bass, Celtics big three too old, Celtics championship window closed, Celtics need to blow up the big three, Celtics should trade Allen, Celtics should trade Garnett, Celtics should trade Rondo, Celtics too old, Celtics trade possibilities, Chauncey Billups, Chris Wilcox, Cleveland Cavaliers, Danny Ainge, Detroit Pistons, Doc Rivers, E'Twaun Moore, Iverson trade Pistons, Jason Maxiell, Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Kwame Brown, LeBron James, Michael Curry, Mickael Pietrus, Paul Pierce, Pistons 6 straight Eastern Conference finals, Rajon Rondo, Rajon Rondo on the trading block, Rajon Rondo trade, Rasheed Wallace, Ray Allen, Richard Hamilton, Rip Hamilton Ray Allen, Rodney Stuckey, Steve Kerr Rajon Rondo quote Sports Illustrated, Tayshaun Prince
Jerry West had some interesting comments yesterday on superstars demanding trades in the NBA. Basically, he says wait them out. His two arguments:
- Players and agents will “resign” themselves to the situation and “re-sign” since their current team can offer them as much as $30 million more than another team (by NBA rules)
- Even if they don’t, the value you get in a trade is crappy
I disagree with point 1 (Exhibit A: LeBron James), but he’s right about point 2. In my South Beach Talents model, Continue reading
Posted in Basketball, Common Sense, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged Bulls trade Howard, Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls, Dwight Howard, Dwight Howard trade, Jerry West, Jerry West Dwight Howard, Joakim Noah, LeBron James, Luol Deng, NBA, should the Bulls trade for Dwight Howard
The Colts are going to take Andrew Luck first overall in the draft. No one will blame them if he doesn’t work out because every team without a star quarterback would draft him, given the chance. However, is this the right choice? Here are the career numbers for all first pick QBs since 1990 (from Pro Football Reference):
I listed each quarterback’s draft year, games played, winning percentage, completion percentage, TDs and INTs as a percentage Continue reading
Posted in Common Sense, Football, Innovative Ideas, Trades/Free Agency, Uncategorized
Tagged Alex Smith, Alex Smith overrated, Alex Smith sucks, Andrew Luck, Andrew Luck trade value, Andy Dalton, Baltimore Ravens, Bill Belichick, Bill Cowher, Bill Parcells, Bill Simmons, Brandon Weeden, Brandon Weeden 28, Brandon Weeden old, Brandon Weeden underrated, Brett Favre coming back, Brett Favre wants to play, Cam Newton, Carson Palmer, Colts, Colts Manning Luck, Colts quarterback scenarios, Colts quarterback trades, Colts should stick with Manning, Colts should trade the first pick, David Carr, Drew Bledsoe, Eli Manning, Eli's first name, Eli's first name is Elisha, Elisha Manning, first pick NFL draft trade value, first picks nfl draft, football, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Is it smart to take a QB with the number one pick, JaMarcus Russell, Jason Campbell, Jay Cutler, Jeff George, Joe Flacco, Kirk Cousins, Kirk Cousins underrated, Kyle Orton, Luck is overrated, Luck overvalued, Luck risky, Luke, Matt Cassel, Matt Flynn, Matt Flynn overrated, Matt Moore, Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Matt Stafford, Matthew Stafford, Miami Dolphins, Michael Lewis, Michael Lewis Eli Manning, Michael Lewis Mannings, Michael Vick, NBA trade value column, NFL, NFL draft, NFL draft quarterbacks, NFL quarterback evaluation, number one overall picks, number one picks, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Quarterback, quarterback simulation, quarterback trade value NFL, quarterback virtual reality, quarterbacks NFL, quarterbacks picked first overall, Robert Griffin III, Sam Bradford, Should the Colts take Andrew Luck?, Super Bowl, teams should not draft quarterbacks high, Tim Couch, TJ Yates, Tony Romo, will Luck be better than Manning
Here’s one potential career “arc” for Prince Fielder:
I call it “the Prince Heavy Side Function,” after the famous Heaviside step function. The graph above certainly has a “heavy side,” though Oliver Heaviside himself was not heavy at all.
Oliver "Not So Heavy" Heaviside
Thanks Brother Evan for suggesting the graph above!
Posted in Baseball, Humor, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged baseball, brother Evan, Detroit Tiger, Evan, Major League Baseball, Miguel Cabrera, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, Oliver Heaviside, Prince Fielder, Prince Fielder career, Prince Fielder ffat, Prince Fielder overweight, Prince Heaviside Function, Tiger, Victor Martinez
David Schoenfield put up a fairly useless blog post about the Tigers signing Prince Fielder yesterday. It just became even more useless, as ESPN confirmed that Cabrera will shift to third base to accommodate Fielder (Schoenfield said this would never happen). I knew about this way before ESPN, thanks to Brother Evan passing along a local news link.
The real issue with Schoenfield’s post Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Financial Analysis, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged Albert Pujols, baseball, brother Evan, Cabrera moving to third, Cabrera too fat to play third, Cabrera will play third, David Schoenfield, Detroit Tigers, ESPN, Fielder, Fielder contract too big, Fielder contract too long, Fielder signing, Los Angeles Angels, Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Ilitch dumb, MLB, Prince Fielder, Prince Fielder bad contract, Prince Fielder contract worth it, Prince Fielder too much money, Tiger, Victor Martinez, Victor Martinez ACL, Victor Martinez injury, Victor Martinez out for the year, World Series
My boyhood memories are coming back full force: Prince Fielder is coming to Detroit to play for my Tigers! Fielder’s dad Cecil (former Tigers masher) might be the most surprised, since they don’t get along. The money is huge (9 years, $214 million), but my immediate reaction had to do with the logjam at first base and DH. The thick brothers (Cabrera and Fielder) should be able to share this year (except at the buffet), but what about when Victor Martinez (the Tigers’ third best hitter) comes back from his ACL injury next year? He’s primarily a DH at this point. This signing makes me think more news is on the way. Maybe Martinez is secretly 41 years old. The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Cabrera will have to move — Fielder doesn’t want to play DH.
Is the contract reasonable? Once the details come out, some dummy will comment that Fielder won’t be worth the money at the end of the nine years. That’s not really relevant (as I’ve written before) Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Financial Analysis, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged baseball, Cabrera is going to play third, Cabrera moves for Prince Fielder, Cabrera third base, Cecil Fielder, Detroit, Detroit can't afford Fielder, Detroit Tiger, Detroit Tigers, fat, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Ilitch, Mike Ilitch spends too much money, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, Prince Cecil Fielder don't get along, Prince Fielder, Prince Fielder contract, Prince Fielder hates his dad, Prince Fielder signs with the Tigers, Prince Fielder Tigers, Prince Fielder too much money, Tiger, Victor Martinez, who will play first base in Detroit, who will play first base Tigers, why did Prince Fielder sign in Detroit?