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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

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"...but Soriano making that much money in two separate markets is either a testament to Scott Boras or a semi-justification of Papelbon's deal."


Or both.

Papelbon deal was still more foolish because it was 4 guaranteed years for a reliever (and possibly 5 including a vesting option with a lower threshold than Soriano's 3rd year).

The one thing you don't want to do with a pitcher is sign him to a long-term deal due to the elevated injury risk level.

I suppose the Nats do need a LOOGY but if that's the worst we can find to say about them, then they're in pretty good shape. Something tells me they'll find their LOOGY before opening day.

Davey Johnson isn't a strong believer in split matchups for his relievers and using roster spots in the bullpen on specialized relievers.

I would bet that Johnson played a key role in pushing Rizzo to sign Soriano too.

And to get my 2 cents in, this is a good signing from a baseball standpoint, because Soriano is a good pitcher.

I wonder how this affect Storen's view of the franchise, and whether he'll take this as a personal slight? Does this affect the market's perception of Storen? That is, will he be viewed as soft and not up to the task of closing?

Sure, he's got 4 more seasons to go before he's an FA, and anything can happen, but Soriano will be around for 3 of those seasons, so Storen won't be putting up many glamour numbers (saves) the next three years. Does he get pissed because that hurts his LT value?

It will be interestng to see how things work out down there.

It's not a "justification," it just shows that closers are overvalued relative to their production. If people are paying out the nose for a new quack baldness cure, you don't feel "justified" that you spent the same amount. A smart GM recognizes there's an inefficiency and acts accordingly.

MG- in the last thread you completely misrepresented my criticism of Rizzo/defense of Amaro. I was appalled by the Papelbon signing, and I still am. But this deal is a higher AAV for a guy that is more than two years older, with almost 300 fewer career saves, one year removed from a crummy 105 ERA+ injury-shortened year, on a team that already had a closer. Papelbon is on his way to the HOF if he keeps up his numbers, has never been hurt, and the Phils needed a closer when they signed him. You're damn right he should get more years than Soriano.

They're both terrible deals, but Soriano's isn't any less terrible. It's basically a wash. We'll see what Soriano actually gives them- if it's anything less than what Storen gives them, it will look even more foolish and will have been a complete waste of money by your boy Rizzo.

As far as paying a premium for quality, that's certainly still something I will defend every time. But Rizzo has spent $40 million on Haren, LaRoche and Soriano this off-season just for the 2012 season. That is hardly paying a premium for 'quality.' One is coming off an injury-plagued below league average season (Haren), one is coming off a ridiculous career year very likely to never happen again (LaRoche), and another is a guy that had almost no market for his services (certainly at the price he ended up getting) that will fill a role (9th inning) that was already filled by a much younger and arguably better pitcher.

If Amaro had paid $40 million on Bourn (20 mill), Adams (6 mill) and, say, Swisher (14 mill), just for the 2012 season, MG would be up in arms about it. But that is worlds better than the trio of Haren, LaRoche and Soriano, which MG is defending as savvy signings by Rizzo.

The funny thing about paying a premium for quality is that you're usually pretty sure that the player you're getting is going to give you quality performance. That's the entire reason why you pay the premium. Rizzo paid a premium for two unsure things and a few redundancies on his roster. You usually aim to NOT pay a premium for question marks and holes that don't need to be filled.

Jack- (from the last thread): I think they should have not signed LaRoche, kept Morse (assuming he'll be moved) and re-signed Gorz and Burnett to round out their bullpen. As far as good hands go, like you said, they've already got one. With those moves it's probably a full house. I'll assume they still make the Haren signing, which isn't a bad move since it's for one year (though still a hefty AAV).

Now that we know what they have to spend, they could've either used the $10-15 million they'd be saving this year going that path to make a big move at the deadline to fill a hole created by injury/underperformance, which is almost always bound to happen, or done nothing, let Morse walk after this year, and have almost unlimited resources (with the savings of Haren and Morse coming off the books, plus $26 million with no Soriano and LaRoche on the books) to spend on A) Another good/great pitcher (Josh Johnson, Lester, Nolasco, Lincecum if he bounces back, Wainwright) or B) a great hitter- off the top of my head, Cano- sliding Espinosa to SS, Desmond to 3rd and Zimmerman to 1B.

If the goal is to get better every year, then I think the Nats have decided to get a little better this year at certain areas for a lot of money at the expense of getting a lot better 1 or 2 years down the road, while still fielding a very good/great team, which it would have been without Soriano or LaRoche.

I mean, they are so good and so young, all they really have to do is not screw it up. They haven't done that necessarily, but if they get hit with one or two key injuries (especially to the SP), they are really going to be kicking themselves.

clout thinks Soriano at 2/28 is a good contract.


Interesting.

If we're all going on record, I do think that the "2" portion of the Soriano 2/28 is a good contract. I'm unfamiliar with any competing offers, so I don't know about the 28 portion.

I'm firmly in the camp that bullpens are crapshoots and due to said crapshootery, it doesn't make a lot of sense to lock up a guy over more than a couple of years. The nature of the job is one that is setup for large swings in performance, due to limited innings (for both sample size and that notion that pitchers throw a bit harder as a result - injury risk). Throw in that the "good" relievers are the ones inserted into high-leverage spots and it's pretty easy to experience a performance slump in such a small sample size.

Long story short, it's the rare, rare exception where it makes sense to value AAV over a shorter duration of a contract (Rivera? - even his injury, however, causes pause).

Iceman - Now you are simply getting ridiculous using crazy hypotheticals which remotely didn't take place this offseason and ignoring the simple fact the biggest issue in signing FA pitchers to long-term deals is the injury risk.

For LaRoche, Soriano, and Haren to deliver more than market value, they have to combine for a little over ~6 WAR (about 6.5) this season.

Care to make a little wager that those 3 players will exceed that threshold this season?

Iceman - Haren got a 1-yr deal and LaRoche & Soriano got 2-yr deals. Rizzo did potentially sacrifice a little financial flexibility for '14 but that's about it.

I don't think he handled the bullpen that well and that he might have overestimated what Morse would get him in the trade market for a young reliever.

Even there making a big move at the deadline is more going to be impacted much more by the young talent they would have to trade and less by the financial concerns.

MG, your sentence isn't clear.

Are you taking the position that those 3 players WILL exceed that threshold or that they will not?

Paying any closer that amount of money is absurd. He has every bit as good of a chance to turn into Eric Gagne/Brian Wilson/or one of the countless other elite closers to fall off of the cliff.

Most overvalued position in the game. Give me a bullpen of above average middle relievers capable of more than one inning any day over the week over a team that wastes two roster spots on a LOOGY and a closer.

Will, you're kind of making my point. Let's say that Soriano does somehow wind up headed down the Gagne/Wilson path. If that's the case, would you rather owe him $28M and call it a day after 2 years, or owe him something along the lines of $30M or so over 3 years?

Basically, the AAV for relievers should be looked at drastically differently, with slightly more emphasis on the actual duration of the contract, moreso than the dollars spent.

role - Exceed.

MG- well from a quick look on BR, they combined for 6.0 WAR last year and that was with LaRoche's 4.0, something he never came close to touching in his career before that (total of 1.1 WAR in 3 years prior), and Soriano basically maxing out at 2.6 WAR. So based on last year, when two of the players in question had career years, they don't meet that standard.

I still won't take your bet because I think WAR is a stupid thing to use as a singular standard for a one-year bet. I can't even think of a fair bet here. I have enough of them to keep track of. Basically if Morse matches or exceeds LaRoche this year for less than half the price, and Storen posts similar numbers to Soriano (who your boy paid a closer premium to get), and Haren is mediocre, you're dead wrong and Rizzo spent his money poorly.

As far as 'crazy hypotheticals,' they are the type of 'hypotheticals' that are probably no longer possible because of the money allocated to LaRoche and Soriano (and Werth) going forward. They were stacked enough this year that Rizzo didn't have to pay a premium for incremental upgrades (if they even turn out to be upgrades) in exchange for flexibility and more attractive options going forward. Instead he chose to spend his money on LaRoche, Werth and Soriano because he had the money and they were what was available at the time. We'll see how that ends up.

Basically every analysis I've seen so far has been saying what many of us have said:

Yeah, it's a big payday for a reliever, and yeah they may have been bidding against themselves, but if there was one team it almost makes sense for, it's the Nats, who have money to spend, are trying to win a championship, and could use a good reliever. And 2/28 isn't exactly going to cripple a franchise for years to come.

Iceman: "Storen posts similar numbers to Soriano"

Why would that necesarily mean Rizzo was dead wrong in getting Soriano? Instead, doesn't it just mean they have *two* good late-inning relievers instead of one?

It just means they have a lockdown bullpen to go with their solid lineup and rotation.

That's not a bad thing.

14 million per is the awful part, but the scant 2 year mitigates the awfulness of the contract. It's very unlikely that this contract negatively effects their roster in those two years. Sure, it could happen, but it's not likely.

Soriano's 2 for 28 is a good opportunity to amplify clout's not-always-apt point that "who give a **** what the ownership is paying." Unless you can convincingly show that the Nats are hereafter hamstrung from improving to a degree greater than the improvement effected by Soriano, then it may be time to allow for yourself the thought that a couple of plutocrats won't be getting optimal dollar for WAR, and that that's OK. The Nats are a bit better. Meanwhile, weep not for the ownership, who'll be content enough sucking up the surplus value of Harper/Strasburg.

On re-reading, perhaps that was a bit saucier than necessary. Still, the essential point stands

One thing to keep in mind is that the Nats' market is Washington, D.C.

For anyone who thinks that Philadelphia is a football town, I suggest you go to DC where it's all Redskins all the time. The RGIII phenomenon last Fall only served to reawaken the Redskins' faithful.

This, after the Nats disappointed (some say lived up to expectations) by crapping the bed in Game 5 against the Cardinals.

So there may have been some pressure on the Nats to make a little more of a splash than re-signing LaRoche and bringing in Haren.

The Nats were a huge surprise last year...we were still supposed to be the top of the East in 2012...so to say they disappointed is a bit unfair.

Soriano's only costing the Nats $7M per year in 2013 and 2014 - the remaining $14M is apparently deferred and will be paid starting in 2018.

"It just means they have a lockdown bullpen to go with their solid lineup and rotation."

Yes, but we have Ben Revere, whose speed and defense make him the Great Equalizer.

It shortens the game to 7 innings for the opposing team. Rizzo is not finished with his roster just yet. He will make a trade of M M+ for top prospects or a Justin Upton. Dynasty in the making

I keep trying to post a response to Jack that's getting dumped, probably because it's so long. I'll give up on it for now.

The short version: he's paying Soriano $14 million to rack up saves. If he was paid to his actual value, he's not worth nearly that. I never claimed they didn't get better by making this move- that's a ridiculous notion. But instead of paying Soriano $14 million to collect saves, he could have had Storen collecting saves for under a million and, say, Uehara in the 8th for $10 million (and one or two years) less, and gotten the same results. So if Storen isn't completely traumatized by his Game 5 meltdown (doubtful), why are you paying for a 'closer' when you could get just as good a pitcher at half (or less) of the price?

I mean, we are all admitting here that Soriano is a really good pitcher, and that Rizzo is playing with a stacked deck (that he, admittedly, helped stack with some very nice trades). There's almost nothing Rizzo can do at this point to keep his team from being really, really good, save something crazy like voluntarily holding his most valuable player out of October baseball.

But does that mean we can't debate the merits of each move individually? I understand the clout 'you don't know what the budget is' argument, and I agree with it to some [large] extent. I'm not even arguing that any of these contracts are hamstringing them long-term- they aren't long-term contracts. I'm analyzing this in the 1 to 3 year window that these contracts are even relevant, and in my opinion, I think they could have held off and done better for themselves. That's all.

Obviously I would not go against the religion of Rizzo on BL and claim that Washington is not a better team than the Phillies on paper. But there will always, ALWAYS be circumstances down the line that you don't foresee, and in the next few years, it's very possible that a better opportunity would have presented itself for Rizzo to upgrade the team- an opportunity he can't exercise because of a few of these moves (specifically LaRoche and Soriano).

I just don't think he's breaking the bank on the right players, that's all. If I were locked and loaded up and down the roster like Rizzo, and had the $26 million to spend in 2013 and 2014 that he allocated to Soriano and LaRoche, I'd have waited for a better opportunity to spend that money. It obviously may not even matter. They're stacked. I just think standing pat for now might've been the better option.

"Yes, but we have Ben Revere, whose speed and defense make him the Great Equalizer."

Good one!

So they're deferring $14 million until after 2018? What the heck? I don't even know anymore. Forget everything I said. Do Boras and Rizzo have a timeshare together, also?

Iceman, good points, although I think the "religion of Rizzo" is laying it on a bit heavy.

I agree with you on the Soriano deal: great pitcher, and the contract doesn't really hamstring them in terms of length, but he could have gotten better value through 2-3 pitchers at the same or less price.

As far as LaRoche, I think the best argument I've seen for it is that he wasn't THAT expensive, and he's cost and roster certainty for 2 years as opposed to only 1 with Morse. I can buy into that to a degree. And they still have Morse, so until they trade him, they have more options than they need. Can't be too bad of a thing to have.

"The Nats were a huge surprise last year...we were still supposed to be the top of the East in 2012...so to say they disappointed is a bit unfair."


NEPP, I grew up in teh district and still have many friends there. Once they won teh division they disappointed a lot of people in the playoffs.

Iceman, the deferral aspect makes it a BETTER deal for the Nationals, since $14 M spread over 8 years from 2018-2025 is worth MUCH LESS than $14 M today.

I'm surprised Soriano took that, since he's now accepting investment risk, mortality risk, among other risks.

Fata- yeah, I know. That's why I said to forget everything I said. It won't be great to have that money to pay when some of their current young starts need to be paid, but at that point their revenue will be at a point where it won't matter.

It's a win-win for both here. Rizzo gets a bullpen upgrade for 2/14 (or 3/28, unless half of the option money is also deferred), which is not unreasonable, and Boras gets his headline, and still got more money that Soriano deserves. And probably more than he could've gotten anywhere else, deferred or not.

They have a really, really tight relationship. Don't know if I've seen anything like it, in any sport.

*THAN Soriano deserves

Looks like Rizzo did Boras a solid by agreeing to a deal that allows Boras to claim he beat the Yankees' qualifying offer in a tough market. Boras, in turn, delivers Soriano to the Nats at their price point in present-day value. Very cozy.

It is just incredible the money Boras has gotten Soriano. I mean, we all agree it's a ridiculous system, with 'setup' guys like Mike Adams, who are just as good as, if not better than, a vast majority of "closers," getting the shaft because they pitch the 8th instead of the 9th.

Soriano has 132 saves in an 11-year career (153 ERA+, 12.1 career WAR), and, including this contract (we'll assume he doesn't hit his 2015 option), has made almost $68 million in his career. I mean, holy sh*t!

Mike Adams, by comparison, has a career 177 ERA+ and a 9.3 career WAR (8 seasons)- and with his current contract will have made almost $21 million in his career.

I know there are other factors here in how each got paid, but good God. Soriano could potentially make, after this contract is over, more than $60 million in his career than Mike Adams. Boras has taken all of Soriano's FA opportunities and leveraged them to the absolute max, giving him 4x as much money as similar pitchers in the same league that have given their teams almost the same production.

I'm not sure if there's a hall-of-fame for agents, but if there is, it should be named after Scott Boras.

Col Tom- just wait until Boras convinces Rizzo to give Bourn $100 million with a 'Bonilla Deferment' paying out little by little until 2040, then commands him to flip Span, Morse and Clippard for Max Scherzer- followed by a 7-year extension for Scherzer to be the Nats #4 starter.

They'll hammer out the details of this during their two-week vacation together in Antigua over Valentine's Day.

Is it OK to still be excited that Spring Training is on the way?

I kinda like the underdog role for the Phils. It has a familiar feel to most long term fans. And off season BL analysis has softened my expectations to the point that the 102 win season is a pleasant, faded memory.

And contending for the playoffs would make 2013 a huge success.

Has anyone ever looked at the 1992 California Angels offense before? Their #4 hitters for the entire year hit .200/.237/.308 made up mostly of Gary Gaetti and Hubie Brooks, with a little Von Hayes.

.545 OPS out of the cleanup! Unreal.

Heyman says we signed Juan Cruz to a MiL deal.

Ice-
35 yr old prospect...that Juan Cruz?

All arguments about money and value aside, Washington just got a little better and that's never a good thing.

Bubba- oh yeah. He of 5.2 BB/9 over the last 5 seasons...that Juan Cruz.

Seriously though, his BABIP was through the roof last year. Maybe there's something there. Worth a look.

I think the owners put one over the players' union with the latest CBA.

The teams are awash with TV money and, yet, there are only two bumps in the luxury tax threshold through 2016. $178 million and $189 million are not very high standards in the grand scheme of things.

Look for the union to ask for a greater slice of the pie with the next CBA, in part by insisting on much higher thresholds and/or more frequent adjustments to keep pace with revenue.

Then, the players will start making serious money.

Then, perhaps, there won't be so much talk about the virtue of minimizing the cost per win. Or what the value of a WAR is.

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