Mets Merized Online » Peter K. http://metsmerizedonline.com Tue, 02 Sep 2014 16:13:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.4 Do $100 Million Dollar Players Guarantee Success? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/do-100-million-dollar-players-guarantee-success.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/do-100-million-dollar-players-guarantee-success.html/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 17:57:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=147665 As Mets fans who have had to deal with the angst of the past few years, it wasn’t enough that the clubs play during the season was sub .500 for five straight years, we also have had to deal with the last three offseasons of no money to go out and buy the big ticket free agent that might have helped us get closer to the promised land. In fact, the only $100M+ plus investment we made was in Captain David Wright. There has been a smattering of opinion that suggests we could have done better by trading him for prospects and starting over, but what cannot be denied is that he is easily one of the best third baggers in baseball (apologies to Miguel Cabrera). And lets not forget that the organization was put into shock with previous large contracts that blew up in the teams face. Throw in a good old fashion Ponzi scheme, and then you can start to hear shoes squeak over at Willets Point.

So, with all that as a backdrop, the question I wanted to pose and try to answer in this article is this; Could we have done any better spending big on free agents?

Theo Epstein, Carl Crawford

And by big, I am referring only to those contracts where the total value was over $100 million-plus and added during the Sandy Alderson era. Clearly, one player does not make a team, but when you sink that much dough, not to mention years, into some of the players that have received these deals over the past three years, teams like the Mets cannot afford to have duds, they need All-Star caliber players. As an aside, I follow the European soccer scene very closely and have watched as teams in small English towns spent heavily to try and compete with the powerhouses in London and Manchester, only to find themselves bankrupt, with no trophies to show for their efforts, and fans in despair (sound familiar?).

Since Sandy Alderson and Co. joined the Metropolitans in October 2010, there have been 14 players who have signed deals with a total value of over $100M in his first three years (I have not included anyone who signed this offseason as there is no data to evaluate their performance yet). These players have signed deals that total over $2.1 billion over an average length of seven years. The annual average value of these contracts is approximately $21 million. Now it bears noting that of these 14 deals, five have to be excluded as those deals were actually extensions (Troy Tulowitzki, Joe Mauer, Matt Kemp, Matt Cain, and Cole Hamels). They are included in the statistical analysis.

In order to determine the relative worth of these ballplayers and if they could have helped the Mets to a title, I used WAR values provided by Baseball Reference. One can debate the relative merits of WAR as a statistic but it is really the only way to look at position players and pitchers together and determine worth. Again, I am only focusing on those nine players who signed their deals since Sandy Alderson and his band took over the Mets front office.

Per Baseball Reference, an All-Star is defined as one with a WAR of 5.0 or better. A Major League class starter is one with a WAR of 2.0 or higher. Now, it can be expected that once a team drops over $100M on a player they should expect All-Star caliber play for the majority of that contact. Sadly, the figures do not bear this out. Of the three seasons analyzed (30 total “seasons” for the 14 players who signed mega-deals), only 20% of all those seasons produced a WAR of 5.0 or higher. Of these six seasons, two were in 2011 (Tulowitzki, Lee), one was in 2012 (Pujols), and three were in 2013 (Tulowitzki, Joe Mauer and Lee again!). Of these players, only Cliff Lee has helped his team to at least one playoff appearance.

It gets worse. From the 30 seasons produced by the 14 players signed to mega deals, a whopping 40% of those seasons produced a WAR of 2.0 or less. That means that players signed to play for over $20 million a season could not even produce a WAR capable of an average major league starter, never mind an All-Star. With a failure rate as high as this, teams with little or no flexibility in their budget simply cannot afford to be part of such a crapshoot. I’m surprised that the Angels aren’t taking more heat for their bad spending over the past two years, as Pujols and Hamilton have contributed very little to delivering a .500 season for their team, let alone a championship, for Los Angeles.

Previously I had discussed the high WAR value of players such as Cliff Lee and Troy Tulowitzki. I also found that Joe Mauer had also produced over a fairly high level since signing his mega extension. Lee, specifically, is a phenomenon, over the three years since he signed his 5 year, $120 million contract in the 2010 offseason, the man has produced over 20 WAR! That accounts for one fifth of the total WAR of all the mega free agents signed since 2010. It’s an incredible statistic. Add in the total WAR for just these three players, they accounted for 52% of the total WAR of all players signed to $100M+ deals.

While this may not be a complete apples to apples comparison, it is a fairly compelling piece of information when you consider that even when their average WAR per year is compiled, these three still rank at the top of the list of 14. Only Adrian Gonzalez comes close with 7.5 WAR over two years.

Okay, maybe WAR shouldn’t be the measurement we use to measure success against a mega contract, maybe its just too sabermetric for you, and doesn’t beat what is really important to Mets and baseball fans everywhere, and that is winning the World Series. And to some extent I heartily agree, a player signed to a huge $100M contract should help his team into the playoffs and World Series. Surely, on this scale, we should see success, right?

Unfortunately, even by this measurement, these players do not provide proof that big spending buys championships. Over the past three years only one player has signed a $100M deal and won a World Series. Bad news again, is that this player signed an extension with his current team and wasn’t even allowed to hit the free agent market (Matt Cain of the 2012 Giants had a 3.9 WAR in the Giants run to the title in 2012, but slipped to an injury plagued 0.5 WAR in 2013). There is only one free agent who signed a mega deal that has at least made a World Series appearance (Prince Fielder with the Tigers in 2012). Seven of the 14 players have at least had the privilege of playing in the playoffs (thanks to three different Dodgers who made it in the last post-season: Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Zack Greinke. Matt Kemp was not counted as he was injured and did not play).

What conclusions can be drawn by this? Well, it seems that signing a player to such a humongous contract over an equally long period of time is a very, very, very risky proposition, as more of these contracts fail then succeed. Mets fans have been close to the bone on this with the Johan Santana and Jason Bay contracts (though the latter was only for $64M). A mixture of free agents on shorter term deals with home grown talent would seem to be the way to success, just ask the Cardinals, Rays, and Pirates. So, whether or not we believe that the plan as stated by our GM is working, he is working to a script that at least has had proven success with other teams.

mmo

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Are the Mets Snakebit? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/are-the-mets-snakebit.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/are-the-mets-snakebit.html/#comments Tue, 05 Nov 2013 13:13:36 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=132205 sad mets benchIt has been no surprise that after five straight losing seasons, any optimism that coincided with the arrival of Sandy Alderson and team Moneyball has now subsided into a cynicism and even a resentment of the current power brokers at the helm.

Second and Third guessing any decisions made by the current front office reflect the dismay which the current fandom, including many of us in the blogosphere, who are sick to death of the losing, the lack of spending, and the seeming lack of concern by the team charged with fixing it.

Of course, this is all understandable, fans have the right to complain when their teams lose. But sometimes, the odds just seem as though they have been stacked against this franchise for the past five years. Changes in the Collective Bargaining Agreement in 2011, and the surplus of media revenue available this year are two factors that have either already contributed to the Mets current milieu or will continue to affect their attempts to build a competitive team in 2014.

Lets take a closer look at how each of these external factors have affected the rebuilding of the farm and team via free agency.

The new front office took charge in November 2010, with a vow to bring the same principles employed (with some success) when they were in charge in Oakland and San Diego. That meant using money more effectively in the draft, and possibly go “overslot” on some high draft picks, something the previous regime (often thought to be at the request of ownership) were criticized for not doing. Then, in 2011, a new CBA agreement between the owners and players put an end to teams who used the largest percentage of their revenues on their youth. The Mets new front office had only one year under the old rules. Additionally, the fixed money pool also applied to international amateur players, although with the caveat that this money could be “traded.” From the 2011 draft on, teams were “forced” into a cap on their draft spending, with severe penalties for any team that went overslot.

Although the new draft rules, which one report alleged that the players; “threw the youngsters under the bus,” were impediments to the speed of the Mets rebuilding process, the changes in the amount of money teams have to spend this year in the free agent market could have the biggest affect on the Mets attempt to build a contender.

jason bayWe’ve all heard the story many times over now, the $40M that was taking up space in the form of Johan Santana and Jason Bay has now been freed and the Mets can spend, spend, spend, and when they’re done, spend some more. It seems it will be as easy as just splashing some green, and watch the instant playoff team take roots and show shoots of hope (too corny? Nah). Easy? Hmmm, not so fast. First, consider that the Mets payroll last year was approximately $90M; and (it is estimated) that the franchise lost $10M last year. If you can do math, and read tea leaves, one can come up with the theory that the Mets payroll in 2014 will be somewhere around $85M.

Ok, so thats not so bad, it means that the team can add $30M to the payroll this year. They can add a premier free agent, perhaps a Shin-Soo Choo at an affordable $70M over 5 years. Perfect, right?

This is where the new media money comes into play, all teams now have an increased revenue stream, and all indications are that they are willing to spend to improve this year. Now whether they are going into debt to supply this spending, is not known. But early reports, and the extensions that have already been done, point to a wild free agent signing period, and you can guarantee that some of these players will be overpaid. The San Francisco Giants just doled out $120M on Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum, who would’ve thought that a few months ago? No one, that’s who. There are also reports that the Astros, who’s entire team payroll was a notch above Johan’s, will be big players for Choo this year.

For a front office that has made all indications that 2014 was the year they were going to start competing and spending again, fate has stepped in to temper the Mets fan expectations. I am optimistic and believe that Alderson and co. will use a combination of trades and free agent signings to build a contender in 2014, or at least a team that plays meaningful games in September.

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What is the ONE Thing the Mets Must Do This Offseason http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/what-is-the-one-thing-the-mets-must-do-this-offseason.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/what-is-the-one-thing-the-mets-must-do-this-offseason.html/#comments Wed, 23 Oct 2013 13:52:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=131584 sandy aldersonFor all my fellow Mets fans, opinions have been flying fast in the blogosphere, twitterverse, and any other media I may have forgotten to mention. And all this is occurring before the World Series has even started! No Free Agents can change teams right now, no player has been tendered, yet you would think from some of us Met die-hards that the offseason is already a failure.

Lets all take a deep breath, I mean, Sandy Alderson hasn’t even had time to officially decline Johan Santana‘s 2014 option for $25M, pay the $5M buyout, and move on to Free Agency. There was significant debate about whether the Mets should have chased Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu, who eventually signed with the White Sox for a six year $68M deal. In my opinion, this deal will come back and bite the ChiSox where the sun don’t shine; I mean, giving a guaranteed $11M a year to a guy who has never hit higher that Double A pitching? No Thank You. In fact, I doubt that over the course of the six years that Abreu even hits one Home Run per million dollars he’s paid (for those that can’t do math, that’s 68 HR’s).

Then there was the news last night that the Giants signed Tim Lincecum to a two year $35M deal. Wow! A guy who is clearly in decline, who’s ERA was nearly 5 in 2013, and who’s average fastball speed has decreased two miles an hour gets $17M PER YEAR to continue that mediocrity. Most of the early reaction from Giants fans and media has been that this is a massive overpayment, and not only that, but this deal just drove up the price of every other medium, used to be somewhat useful, starter the Mets might have interest in this offseason (see Josh Johnson and Scott Kazmir).

So, no matter your view of this front office (and count mine on the slightly positive side), they will have their work cut out filling all the holes while staying under what looks to be a team budget of roughly $85M (You can complain about that budget if you want, but it is what it is). So, as you would do in any business, you prioritize. You make the case for which positions on the diamond have the greatest need while accepting those that can be updated next year (or later). If I were Sandy Alderson, my list would look something like this:

  1. Outfield (Right Fielder)
  2. Shortstop
  3. Starting Pitcher
  4. Outfield (Left Fielder/ 4th OF)
  5. First Base
  6. More Pitching

If there is one thing that simply must be done to have even a chance of competing in 2014, its that the Mets obtain a power hitting Outfielder who provides the Mets with an OPS threat that will never be confused with their OBP. This won’t be easy, but there are options out there and this is simply what Sandy Alderson and company must spend the bulk of their dollars on, even at the expense of quality options in other areas. Shortstop is another key area, and there is a possibility that signing someone like Jhonny Peralta could address both concerns, as he played a decent LF for the Tigers in the playoffs. Also, it might be a pipe dream, but perhaps Ruben Tejada rededicates himself to the craft, and becomes the Tejada of 2012, which wasn’t too shabby.

Some readers might be disappointed to see First Base listed so far down the list, but lets think about this for a second. If Sandy obtains a power hitting outfielder, and another one who makes contact and gets on base, we can assume that the budget (again, it is what it is) is near tapped. Then I can live with Lucas/Ike/Josh batting 7th in that lineup.

I am expecting a decent offseason from this front office, I know I am in the minority in that sentiment, but I really believe there will be at least one blockbuster trade that the Mets are a part of.

addicted to mets button

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