Friday, December 12, 2008

New York Winners?

I should be working. And when I'm done working I can bury a cable wire, hang the rest of the Christmas lights, take a shower, fix the pool, go Christmas shopping, help at my daughter's school, network, or plan dinner. But instead I'll write about the Yankees- to an audience of...

So the big news of the MLB winter meetings is that the New York teams came away as big winners. How spending a ton of money translates to being winners is a little beyond me as has been proven time and time again over the last decade. So the Yankees have committed $23MM a year for Bartolo Colon II. Yes that's right, the second coming of big fatty. For those with short term memories, you'll see that Colon was traded to the Expos at the trade deadline in 2002 when he was 29. With the Expos, he went 10-4. A year later, he parlayed his success into a lucrative deal with the Angels, a 4 year deal worth about $51MM. He had two solid years but his last two years with the halos he was 7-13. He was 33 and 34 during those crap seasons.

Sabathia just came off a kickass season highlighted with an 11-2 post trade performance. Perfect contract year action. So now he's signed for 7 years with the Yankees at $161MM. That's $23MM a year. He's 2 years younger than Colon was. So that will translate to 4-5 years of kickass performance followed by 2 years of crap. So in reality, his true worth will probably translate to $32MM per year. Now I know that we're talking about two separate pitchers here, but here's the big (key word "big") parallel. Both Colon and Sabathia are big fat dudes- both listed at two and half spins on (which is where I retrieved all stats that I've used for analysis). And big fat dudes tend to break down- especially pitchers who must exert so much force on their bodies 100 pitches per game. And if you compare a guy like Roger Clemens in 1986 to Clemens in 2006, and the dude gained weight. It's a simple derivative of age. So if Colon is listed as 250 now, how much did he weigh 5 years ago?

So the Yankees being defined as big winners sounds very similar to when they signed Carl Pavano. Pavano earned $5MM per win for the Yankees.

Moving on to the Mets and in particular Omar Minaya. Another Expos connection here. Minaya's the J-hole who actually traded for the Bartolo Colon rental- and he only had to give up Grady Sizemore (4 time MVP candidate and 3 time all star) and Cliff Lee (2008 Cy Young Winner, previous CY candidate and 1 time all star). Oh yeah and Brandon Phillips- the starting 2b for the Reds for the last 3 years. So Minaya is a genius if you ask any Expos fan. So now he's the GM of the big money Mets and he has been labeled a winner since he signed K-Rod and Putz. Really?

K-Rod has the new record for saves in a season but he didn't win any awards for that. Oh, I assume he won the Prilosec Relief award or whatever they call it. But anyone who knows closers knows that their lifespan is typically very short. Besides guys like Trevor and Mariano and Billy, closers typically flame out pretty quickly. Look at guys like Keith Foulke or Gagne. Those guys just puttered out after rising so quickly. In fact it's always a risk with any pitcher. It's a big risk to sign a closer- hence K-Rod smartly "only" got a 3 year deal at about $12MM per- which he was smart to take. And going back to Minaya's genius, what else was he supposed to do? The bullpen killed the Mets last year, there are very few top tier closers on the market this year, the Mets have money, so they signed K-Rod. Hell, I could have done that if I were in Minaya's position (ok, I don't speak spanish, so perhaps it would have been a more difficult conversation) So now the Mets have 2 closers of which Wagner is still servicable. So is their bullpen bolstered? Absolutely. Add to that the trade for JJ Putz who was the Mariner's closer in 2007 and you now have 3 closers.

But how many winter meetings end up with the Yankees, Mets or other big market team being declared the "winner"? Don't get me wrong, you can officially name some teams like the Padres, Nationals, Royals, Blue Jays, etc. "losers" and I don't dislike these teams, but they simply didn't make any moves that look like they'll improve their teams. But to name some teams "winners" is absolutely ridiculous. How bout we simply say that these teams spent the most money this winter meeting. Winners are determined in October (ok November) so lets save that label for the appropriate time because at the end of the year, either the Yankees or Mets or both will definately be losers.

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