Craig Calcaterra

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No, it’s not crazy to pay a free agent for what you think he’ll do in the future. That’s the bleedin’ point.


Often times free agent contracts end up working out poorly because the team evaluates the player as if they will continue to perform in the future the same way or even better than he performed in the past. Like, say, every free agent contract the Angels have handed out in recent years.

Of course predicting the future is hard and, given that it is hard and given that the market is what the market is, even teams that do their best to evaluate a player end up paying some premium based on his track record. This is especially true — and forgivable — in the case of teams seeking to retain their own free agents, as they got way more production than that for which they paid when the guy was in his pre-free agency years. Just the cost of doing business.

But really, if teams could do things ideally with free agents — if they had a crystal ball — they’d pay them for the production they actually end up getting out of them, not for past production. Indeed, that’s what the entire business of applied advanced baseball metrics is all about: trying to figure out what baseball players may do in the future and basing one’s roster decisions on those projections.

Which is why this argument from Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times against the contract the Dodgers have Brandon McCarthy is sort of loony:

Dodgers General Manager Farhan Zaidi and McCarthy argue a new conditioning program made him stronger, elevating his velocity a couple mph to 93 and enabling him to finally last the duration of a full season. Plus, it’s not like Chase Field is a pitcher’s ballpark. Clearly the Dodgers believe the way he pitched in New York is further indication his past health issues are behind him . . .They’re paying less for what he’s done that what they hope he can do. Which makes no sense. And he got four years and $48 million.

He never does explain why it “makes no sense” for a team to pay a guy based on what they think he’ll do in the future. Especially when one realizes that a player’s market is a function of what 30 teams, all using some form of advanced metrics or another, think a guy will do in the future.

Actually, I think Dilbeck does miss that little fact. That the Dodgers are not out on some crazy island in which they are the only ones thinking of players in terms of advanced metrics. He clearly believes they are, however, as he plays up more of that “Geek Squad” stuff he started a while back, painting Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi as crazy people performing mathematical voodoo. Dilbeck fails to consider that, maybe, a LOT of other teams might evaluate a player in the way the Dodgers evaluated McCarthy.

The NFL in Dodger Stadium?

dodger stadium getty

This is a few days old, but just bubbled up in front of me this morning. The “League,” here refers to the NFL, of course, and the topic is the NFL’s desire to move a team to Los Angeles:

Which I would object to on religious grounds. A better objection, however, may come from one of the people who commented on the tweet:

I have no idea if this scale is perfectly correct — and it’s possible it could work if you angled the gridiron from the first base dugout out to left field like a lot of multi-purpose parks do — but it still looks like a lousy place for football, even if you don’t care about the desecration of a baseball cathedral.

My guess is that it’s just something people are yakking about to be yakking. Or that it’s some idea aimed at seeing if people will actually go to Chavez Ravine to watch football, eventually paving the way for the construction of a football stadium on the site as has been suggested at various times in recent years.

Meanwhile, on Dan Shaughnessy’s Hall of Fame ballot

Tim Raines

Dan Shaugnessy’s Hall of Fame ballot is out. He demonstrates his usual rigorous care for the process by, apparently, spending about 30 seconds on the thing.

He puts Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Randy Johnson on his ballot. He also adds Tim Raines and Alan Trammell. I love all of those choices, of course.

But let us recall that in 2012 Shaughnessy put Raines and Trammell on his ballot and in 2013 he left Raines and Trammell off. And in none of these years has he come close to filling the ten slots allotted. So I guess those two have gotten worse and better at various times. Or maybe he just doesn’t give a crap about his ballot. Can’t wait to see which long-retired player improves in 2015!

Of course there’s this too, during his discussion about PEDs:

No votes for guys caught using. And worse — no votes for guys who just don’t look right. Bagwell and Piazza are the two players most penalized for this arbitrary crime . . . Happily, none of the bad stuff ever touched Pedro.

And he knows this. For reasons, apparently.

In other news, Dan Shaughnessy was a finalist for the Spink Award, which the baseball writers talk about as if it were induction into the Hall of Fame. He lost. Maybe it’s because he just didn’t look right.

It is perfectly clear that A-Rod is the Yankees’ DH. At best. So there will be no drama, right?

Alex Rodriguez

Brian Cashman spoke to the media today regarding the Chase Headley deal and made a point to say that Alex Rodriguez was the team’s designated hitter at best.

Cashman said almost as much 11 days ago. Likewise, the team’s consistently reported interest in Chase Headley before he was signed made it quite clear that the Yankees have no illusions that A-Rod can be counted on to play third base. Indeed, if he can’t really hit, he probably won’t even DH as Carlos Beltran can do that and the Yankees could use Chris Young or someone like him in right field.

The Yankees are fully prepared for A-Rod to be a non-factor for them. If he can’t play anymore the roster is set up to cut him without much of a baseball impact. If, however, they are pleasantly surprised by his hitting, they will enjoy his services at DH.

This is all a conservative, sensible and non-controversial approach for the Yankees to take. And that they have it all sorted by December 16th means that — barring some crazy comments from A-Rod about how he expects to start in the infield or something — there will be no drama from the team’s perspective. Indeed, this is the dictionary definition of a drama-free approach to this kind of situation.

But if you think the media is going to let that be the case, you’re crazy:

The strangest spring training saga will begin when the Yankees’ full squad emerges from the clubhouse for their first pre-workout stretch . . . the platoon of cameras will be focused on a guy with an undefined role: Alex Rodriguez . . . Reporters will trace his every movement and log Rodriguez’s interaction with teammates, looking for signs that the others around him might shy away from him . . . The search for signs of awkwardness will continue the first time the Yankees’ infielders move to their positions . . . Will A-Rod step in the front of the line, in front of Headley, among those awaiting grounders at third base? Or will Rodriguez defer to Headley? Will manager Joe Girardi feel the need to say something to Rodriguez about who should be first, to make everything crystal clear? Or will Rodriguez and Headley be assigned to separate fields, to protect Rodriguez’s feelings?

That’s all from Buster Olney today and it goes on and on like that. And I’m not singling Buster out here. That echoes the sorts of things a lot of scribes have tweeted in the past couple of days in the wake of the Headley signing and what will, no doubt, be the jumping off point of a dozen or two reporters covering Yankees spring training, claiming it’s a complete circus and “The A-Rod Show” and all kinds of stuff.

But as it stands now, given how the Yankees have handled this, it will only be a circus if the media creates it. And by God, you know they’re going to try to. When they do, don’t blame A-Rod. Don’t blame the Yankees. Blame the people who are absolutely desperate for this to actually be a circus and who will dissect every flinch, cough and blink in order to shoehorn what, as of now, appears to be a pretty straightforward situation into their preferred narrative of A-Rod-fueled, Bronx Zoo chaos.



Rays pitcher Jake McGee had elbow surgery

Jake McGee AP

Struggling to think of the the last bit of Rays news that was unequivocally good. Heck, even ambiguously good would probably work for them:

McGee was outstanding for the Rays last year, pitching in 73 games, saving 19 and posting an ERA of 1.89 while striking out 11.4 batters per nine innings pitched.