Added Thoughts On The Cost Of A Marginal Win

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Keith is one of my best baseball friends. There aren’t too many people that will take the time to listen to me argue with them for hours on end. Him not being around as often as he used to be makes me sad in general but always makes my day to see him write something. In case you may have missed it, he put together a really well throughout post this morning and I hope that you got a chance to read it and if not go read it now.

Here is a short encapsulating thought:

“it’ll cost $10 mil/year on the open market just to get an average player.

That’s awful. A 0 WAR team is expected to win about 42 games. So to get to 90 wins (the minimum to begin expecting playoffs) a teams needs to accumulate around 48 WAR. If a team was to try and do that entirely via free agency at market value, it would cost $240 mil to become a borderline playoff team.”

Nothing said in the post was likely revelutionary to anyone, rather it was a reiteration of what many of us have come to believe and some of us love. It’s all talk of what a marginal “win” would cost a team on the open market and it certainly makes ones head spin just getting started on the subject.

First before we get into this conversation let me state the obvious and rebut a few of Keith’s points as I’m sure he has come to expect.

A) I don’t believe Prince Fielder signs for anything less than $20 million a year and I think even that is stretching it. Boras is pushing hard for $25 million annually based upon most of the information that is generally available.

B) I’ve said it about 20 times and I’ll say it again, there are multiple ways to build a ball club. I’m not against signing Prince Fielder, I am against trading Justin Smoak, I am against trading Felix Hernandez and I won’t blindly believe in everything the front office does but they’ve already done a lot in the way of building the Mariners into a long term successful organization and I believe in the plan they currently have in place. Those are the state of my current stances, everything else that I believe in with this Mariners club is pretty negotiable.

Now, I’m going to plagerize Dave Cameron off of one of his Fangraphs post and piggy back on some of Keith’s thoughts:

[The Rays are] going to pay Soriano about $4 to $4.5 million per win for 2009, which is certainly not a discount, and is actually above the going rate that we have seen for most players signed this year. Additionally, the $7 million he will earn would represent nearly 11 percent of the total team payroll from 2009. That is a significant allocation of resources to give to a closer.

However, the Rays are not in a league average situation. Their position in expected outcomes is quite a bit different than most teams. They have the talent of a contender, but share a division with New York and Boston, which drives down their chances of making the playoffs. As such, they have to protect themselves from variance more than most clubs will, as a bullpen implosion (like they had in 2009) can essentially derail their chances of playing in October.

Soriano adds a win or two to the roster, which may not sound like much, but the win that he’s bringing is extremely valuable, given the precarious nature of the Rays playoff odds. By adding a premium relief ace, they’ve insured, to an extent, against a disaster. The security that he brings doesn’t offer the same reward for the dollar that you may find by taking a flyer on a young, unproven, power arm, but the Rays don’t need more upside as much as they need less downside. – Dave Cameron 11/12/09

 

I like what Dave says here and I agree with it. Purchasing and valuing team wins that take your team from let’s say 85-90 wins and even beyond is considerably different than purchasing wins 65-70. Prince Fielder is a 85-90 win type signing in my opinion. Because the cost to acquire a talent, such as his, is so great while your most likely only upgrading your team marginally compared to a team that is a below average. If you are paying for Prince Fielder while in the 70-80 wins bracket I personally believe that is a hefty price to pay while still having roster holes that that need to be filled and can be filled to improve the team to the same amount of wins that a Prince Fielder would improve the team for a considerably less amount of money. 

Fielder as a free-agent more of a finale piece and a jewel, if not the crown, to a line-up that needs him.  I can certainly see the arguments for and against such an acquisition by the organization and I’m really not going to complain one way or another –short of it being a $200+m deal– should he end up in Seattle. 

Again, I fully believe in the front office that is currently established and if they think that $150-180m dollars allocated to a player like Fielder makes us a better team both in the now and in the future, then I’ll trust their judgement. But as I said there are cheaper options out there and

 The point of Keith’s post wasn’t for or against Prince Fielder, I used it to mention Fielder just to drive up site hits (!!), rather his point was the importance of building up the farm system as younger players contribute value beyond their cost. It has been refreshing the priority Jack Zduriencik’s front office has placed on it the past three years. It’s a key step and vital to the organization’s plans of competing against the rest of the AL West. I have a post on this so I’ll save the rest. This was just going to be one extremely long comment that I decided to turn into a post reply.

I miss you Keith, thanks for being awesome and also for stopping by.

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Tags: Felix Hernandez Justin Smoak Prince Fielder

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