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Theo Epstein and Valuing Players


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#1 philly sox fan


  • SoSH Member


  • 9747 posts

Posted 01 November 2005 - 08:04 PM

I’ve been working on some reviews of last year’s free agent market using some different BP stats and value methods. As I was doing that I remembered that I did something similar for Epstein’s transactions during his first two years last winter. I figured that I’d eventually get to re-doing that at some point. All of a sudden it seems a little more timely than a FA review.

I’ve tried to include each player that was intended to be a significant part of the Sox roster. All of the faceless bit players that came and went were ignored. Each player is listed with several pieces of data.

Years – the length of the contractual commitment. A “+” indicates an option year. If the option vested on the basis of player performance, then I eventually rolled that option into the original contract. If the team picked up a club option, then I considered that a second commitment.

Total – the total guaranteed portion of the contract in millions.

Cost – what each player cost each season. Usually. I think I ended up using AAV for Renteria and Varitek for some reason (probably because 10 is such a nice round number). The distinction doesn’t matter for players who have finished their contracts, which is most of them. It’s primarily an issue with Foulke and Clement who have back loaded contracts. Their first years look like better values than they really are.

VORP – is an easy to use context adjusted measure of player value.

$10/VORP – is the cost of 10 VORP. If 10 VORP = 1 win, then it’s the cost of one win. This is one measure of cost efficiency.

WARP1 – is another BP metric. Unlike VORP it includes defensive value. It’s necessary to compute a valuation using a method recently published by Nate Silver.

BPVal – is a measure of the value of WARP1 production in the free agent market.

Diff – is the difference between BPVal and Cost. Positive numbers are good values for the team.

I’m going to split the players up in two different ways. The first is just by season. The second is by the season that the contract was signed. For example, the Sox made a 3+ year commitment to Schilling in Nov of 2003. Each season is grouped separately as “2004” and “2005”, but the whole contact is considered as a single commitment as a “2003/04 Transaction”.

I also split players by pitcher or position player, because, well, they’re different.


2003
Player    Years   Total    Cost     VORP   $/10 VORP  WARP1   BPVal     Diff
Walker      1      3.45     3.45    28.2     1.22      2.1     1.78    -1.67
Mueller     2+     4.2      2.1     65.2     0.32      6.8    12.57    10.47
Millar      2+     5.3      2.0     28.6     0.70      4.9     7.08     5.08
Giambi      1      2.0      2.0      0.4    50.0       0.3     0.14    -1.86
Ortiz       1      1.25     1.25    48.5     0.26      4.9     7.08     5.83
Jackson     1      0.625    0.625   -2.3     neg       0.0     0.0     -0.63
Total             16.825   11.425  168.6     0.68     19.0    28.66    17.23

Epstein’s first year produced tremendous value in the short-term position player market. Mueller was a tremendous pickup at a bargain price. Both Millar and Ortiz were also very good pickups. The other pickups didn’t amount to much, but those misses are overwhelmed by the three big hits.

The VORP unit cost of 0.68M per “win” is pretty exceptional.

Player    Years   Total    Cost     VORP   $/10 VORP  WARP1   BPVal     Diff
Wake        3     13.02     4.34    30.8     1.41      5.6     8.93     4.59
Mendoza     2      6.5      2.9     -5.9     neg       0.8     0.46    -2.44
Embree      2+     5.5      2.75    11.3     2.43      2.1     1.78    -0.97
Kim         1      2.0      2.0     15.7     1.27      4.5     6.12     4.12
Timlin      1      1.85     1.85    19.7     0.94      3.8     4.6      2.75
Suppan      1      0.625    0.625    1.6     3.91      1.2     0.79     0.16
Williamson  1      0.6      0.6     -1.2     neg       0.2     0.09    -0.59
Sauerbeck   1      0.517    0.517   -2.7     neg       0.0     0.0     -0.52
Fox         1      0.35     0.35     2.2     1.59      0.9     0.53     0.18
Lyon        1      0.310    0.31     7.0     0.44      2.6     2.48     2.18
Total             31.272   16.242   78.5     2.07     21.7    25.79     9.54
  
Total             48.097   27.677  247.1     1.12     40.7    54.4     26.78

Wakefield is an ambiguous inclusion. He had a contract for 2003 for about the same cost. However, Epstein signed him to a new three-year deal that replaced his 2003 contract. I’m giving Epstein full credit for Wakefield’s entire contract, but obviously with any extension of an inherited player there is some aspect of “credit sharing” that is necessary.

Wakefield, Kim and Timlin were the key players in terms production. Those three and a very inexpensive Lyon drove the “Diff” column into strongly positive territory. There were some definite misses both in terms of on field production (mostly from the pen) and financial value, but the misses were generally only moderately expensive and as a result easily washed out by the successes.

In total, the Sox spent 28M on these players and received 41 WARP that would be valued at roughly 54M. That’s a net gain of roughly 27M in 2003.

2004
Player    Years   Total    Cost     VORP   $/10 VORP  WARP1   BPVal     Diff
Nixon       3     19.0      6.33    13.1     4.83      1.4     0.98    -5.35
Ortiz       1      4.588    4.588   71.3     0.64      6.4    11.29     6.7
Millar      2+     5.3      2.65    37.6     0.7       4.2     5.44     2.79
Mueller     2+     4.2      2.1     21.8     0.96      3.9     4.81     2.71
Cabrera     1      2.0      2.0     14.7     1.36      1.3     0.88    -1.12
Reese       1      1.0      1.0     -7.3     neg       1.1     0.7     -0.3
Meintk      1      0.933    0.933   -4.5     neg      -0.2    -0.07    -1.01
Burks       1      0.75     0.75    -1.3     neg      -0.1    -0.04    -0.79
Kapler      1      0.75     0.75     1.2     6.25      0.9     0.53    -0.22
Bellhorn    1      0.49     0.49    37.6     0.13      5.0     7.33     6.84
Roberts     1      0.325    0.325    1.7     1.91      0.7     0.39     0.06
Total             39.336   20.915  185.9     1.18     24.6    32.24    10.33

In 2004 the biggest decision was to give Nixon a reasonably large three year deal. He subsequently got hurt and has badly under performed his contract. In terms of positive performance and value standpoints the key players were Ortiz, whose one year contract was a residue of the previous decision to sign him and his service time, and Bellhorn. Millar and Mueller continued to contribute positively, but at reduced levels in comparison to 2003.

The new additions aside form Bellhorn did not contribute much in terms of statistical performance or value.

Player    Years   Total    Cost     VORP   $/10 VORP  WARP1   BPVal     Diff
Schilling   3+    39.5     14.0     72.9     1.92     10.2    26.24    12.24
Foulke      3+    22.5      4.5     35.9     1.25      7.3    14.27     9.77
Wake        3     13.02     4.34     9.4     4.62      3.7     4.4      0.06
Kim         2     10.0      4.0     -3.0     neg       0.0     0.0     -4.0
Mendoza     2      6.5      3.6      9.4     3.83      1.4     0.98    -2.62
Williamson  1      3.175    3.175   14.0     2.27      1.2     0.79    -2.39
Embree      2+     5.5      2.75     8.5     3.24      1.6     1.19    -1.56
Timlin      1+     2.5      2.5     18.3     1.37      3.2     3.47     0.97
Adams       1      0.56     0.56    -1.2     neg       0.3     0.14    -0.42
Arroyo      1      0.333    0.333   24.7     0.13      4.6     6.35     6.02
Myers       1      0.18     0.18     3.5     0.51      0.6     0.32     0.14
Leskanic    1      0.15     0.15     8.3     0.18      1.8     1.41     1.26
Total            103.918   40.088  200.7     2.0      35.9    59.56    19.48

Total            143.253   62.003  386.6     1.6      60.5    91.81    29.8

The BPVal methodology breaks down at high WARP levels. Schilling was great both in terms of production and value, but probably not as good as his listed “BPVal”. The second major pitching staff addition, Foulke, was also excellent. However, his “Diff” is boosted by the comparison to an artificially low 2004 “Cost”. Arroyo, who had been picked up on waivers in 2002/03 was also a key contributor in terms of production and value. Kim, Mendoza and Williamson were disappointments.

In total, the Sox spent 62M on these players and received 61 WARP that would be valued at roughly 92M. That’s a net gain of roughly 30M in 2003. Even if you do a rough correction for Schilling and Foulke of 10M or so, the Sox still would have received a sizable 20M net gain.

2005
Player    Years   Total    Cost     VORP   $/10 VORP  WARP1   BPVal     Diff
Renteria    4     40.0     10.0     26.7     3.75      1.8     1.41    -8.59
Varitek     4     40.0     10.0     45.4     2.2       6.2    10.67     0.67
Nixon       3     19.0      6.33    21.7     2.92      4.3     5.66    -0.67
Ortiz       2+    12.5      5.25    85.8     0.61      8.0    16.83    11.58
Millar      3      8.8      3.5     14.8     2.36      3.9     4.81     1.31
Bellhorn    1      2.75     2.75     4.9     5.61      1.7     1.3     -1.45
Mueller     1      2.1      2.1     32.3     0.65      5.2     7.85     5.75
Payton      1      1.75     1.75     3.6     4.86      0.8     0.46    -1.29
Mirabelli   2      3.0      1.5      4.8     3.13      1.3     0.88    -0.62
Olerud      1      0.75     0.75     8.7     0.86      1.9     1.53     0.78
Graff       1      0.65     0.65    13.8     0.47      1.6     1.19     0.54
Total            131.3     44.58   262.5     1.7      36.7    52.6      8.02

Renteria is Epstein’s first very large bust. A pbp defensive system like UZR that perhaps values his defense more highly than BP’s method would boost his production. That would cut into the magnitude of his negative “Diff”, but it was a very bad first year any way you look at it. In the first year of a contract extension signed during the 2004 season, Ortiz was tremendously productive at a bargain cost. Mueller also bounced back and had a very good season. Varitek was a very good performer, but basically did so at full market value. The rest of the players produced at a rate roughly commensurate with their compensation.

Player    Years   Total    Cost     VORP   $/10 VORP  WARP1   BPVal     Diff
Schilling   3     39.5     12.5      1.3    96.15      2.2     1.92   -10.58
Wells       2     13.0      9.0     24.1     3.73      5.2     7.85    -1.15
Foulke      3+    22.5      7.0     -0.7     neg       1.6     1.19    -5.81
Clement     3     25.5      6.5     21.6     3.01      4.8     6.83     0.33
Kim         2     10.0      6.0      0.0               0.0     0.0     -6.0
Wake        3     13.02     4.34    32.9     1.32      6.5    11.6      7.26
Embree      3      8.5      3.0     -8.8     neg      -0.1    -0.04    -3.04
Timlin      2      5.25     2.75    28.6     0.96      5.6     8.93     6.18
Arroyo      1      1.875    1.875   16.9     1.11      4.7     6.59     4.72
Miller      1      1.5      1.5      5.9     2.54      1.9     1.53     0.03
Halama      1      1.0      1.0     -4.9     neg       0.2     0.09    -0.91
Mantei      1      0.75     0.75    -3.1     neg       0.1     0.04    -0.71
Bradford    1      0.7      0.7      5.0     1.4       1.1     0.7      0.0
Myers       1      0.6      0.6     10.0     0.6       1.8     1.41     0.81
Papelbon    1      0.325    0.15    10.9     0.14      1.7     1.3      1.15
Total            144.02    57.665  139.7     4.13     37.3    49.94    -7.72

Total            275.32   102.245  402.2     2.54     74.0   102.25     0.30

As good as Schilling and Foulke were in 2004, they were just god awful in 2005. Combined they were basically replacement level pitchers at a cost of 19.5M. Add in the 6M obligation to Kim and the Sox received nothing for 25M.

Wakefield, Timlin and Arroyo were bright spots, but in this case the large misses overwhelmed the hits.

In total, the Sox spent 102M on these players. With a payroll of roughly 130M this was the first time that players Epstein acquired accounted for more than 50% of the Sox payroll. In return, the Sox received 74 WARP that would be valued at roughly 102M. The Sox basically broke even on Epstein acquired players in 2005.

These are the three year totals.
Player          Cost      VORP   $/10 VORP   WARP1   BPVal     Diff
3yr Hit        76.741    588.8     1.30      78.2   111.72    37.25
3yr Pitch     113.904    418.9     2.72      94.9   135.29    21.30
3yr Total     190.645   1007.7     1.89     173.1   247.01    58.54

Overall, the Sox spent 191M on Epstein players and received roughly 247M in value. That’s a net gain of 59M. I wouldn’t take any of these precise numbers too seriously for a variety of reasons, but that’s a good idea of what kind of value Epstein’s players have returned in comparison to their cost.

I think this kind of summary is more interesting looking at every contract as a single unit. Let’s reorder these player seasons by the season their contract was signed.

2002/2003 Transactions
Player    Years   Total    Cost     VORP   $/10 VORP  WARP1   BPVal     Diff
Walker      1      3.45     3.45    28.2     1.22      2.1     1.78    -1.67
Mueller03   2+     4.2      2.1     65.2     0.32      6.8    12.57    10.47
Mueller04   2+     4.2      2.1     21.8     0.96      3.9     4.81     2.71
Millar03    2+     5.3      2.0     28.6     0.70      4.9     7.08     5.08
Millar04    2+     5.3      2.65    37.6     0.7       4.2     5.44     2.79
Millar05    3      8.8      3.5     14.8     2.36      3.9     4.81     1.31
Giambi      1      2.0      2.0      0.4    50.0       0.3     0.14    -1.86
Ortiz       1      1.25     1.25    48.5     0.26      4.9     7.08     5.83
Jackson     1      0.625    0.625   -2.3     neg       0.0     0.0     -0.63
Total                      19.7    242.8     0.81     31.0    43.71    24.04

The nice thing about doing it this way is you can see how a player’s production and value varies during the course of a multiyear deal. Mueller saw a significant drop in production from 2003 to 2004, but his cost stayed very, very low and as a result he was a solid bargain even in his decline season. Somewhat surprisingly, Millar’s three year decline is pretty gentle by WARP. Since his salary only went up in small increments from a very low base he remained a decent value even in 2005. Those two players and Ortiz made this a tremendously productive off-season of transactions.
Player    Years   Total    Cost     VORP   $/10 VORP  WARP1   BPVal     Diff
Wake03      3     13.02     4.34    30.8     1.41      5.6     8.93     4.59
Wake04      3     13.02     4.34     9.4     4.62      3.7     4.4      0.06
Wake05      3     13.02     4.34    32.9     1.32      6.5    11.6      7.26
Mendoza03   2      6.5      2.9     -5.9     neg       0.8     0.46    -2.44
Mendoza04   2      6.5      3.6      9.4     3.83      1.4     0.98    -2.62
Embree03    2+     5.5      2.75    11.3     2.43      2.1     1.78    -0.97
Embree04    2+     5.5      2.75     8.5     3.24      1.6     1.19    -1.56
Embree05    3      8.5      3.0     -8.8     neg      -0.1    -0.04    -3.04
Kim         1      2.0      2.0     15.7     1.27      4.5     6.12     4.12
Timlin      1      1.85     1.85    19.7     0.94      3.8     4.6      2.75
Suppan      1      0.625    0.625    1.6     3.91      1.2     0.79     0.16
Williamson  1      0.6      0.6     -1.2     neg       0.2     0.09    -0.59
Sauerbeck   1      0.517    0.517   -2.7     neg       0.0     0.0     -0.52
Fox         1      0.35     0.35     2.2     1.59      0.9     0.53     0.18
Lyon        1      0.310    0.31     7.0     0.44      2.6     2.48     2.18
Total                      34.3    129.9     2.64     34.8    43.92     9.65

Total                      53.947  372.7     1.45     65.8    87.63    33.69

Wakefield bounced from good to solid/break even to very good during the course of his contract. Again, some chunk of that credit has to be considered inherited. Wakefield represents about half of the on field productivity and essentially all of positive “Diff”. Mendoza was a pretty big bust. I think people may be surprised to see how poorly Embree is rated by these measures, but he was never especially productive and he was always relatively expensive for his role. He had some very good stretches for the Sox, but ultimately he wasn’t a very good signing.

All of these contracts have now expired so we can make a complete accounting of Epstein’s first off-season. He committed the Sox to spend 54M and these players produced 66 WARP with a free agent valuation of 88M. That’s a net gain for the Sox of nearly 34M.

2003/2004 Transactions
Player    Years   Total    Cost     VORP   $/10 VORP  WARP1   BPVal     Diff
Nixon04     3     19.0      6.33    13.1     4.83      1.4     0.98    -5.35
Nixon05     3     19.0      6.33    21.7     2.92      4.3     5.66    -0.67
Ortiz04     1      4.588    4.588   71.3     0.64      6.4    11.29     6.7
Ortiz05     2+    12.5      5.25    85.8     0.61      8.0    16.83    11.58
Cabrera     1      2.0      2.0     14.7     1.36      1.3     0.88    -1.12
Reese       1      1.0      1.0     -7.3     neg       1.1     0.7     -0.3
Meintk      1      0.933    0.933   -4.5     neg      -0.2    -0.07    -1.01
Burks       1      0.75     0.75    -1.3     neg      -0.1    -0.04    -0.79
Kapler      1      0.75     0.75     1.2     6.25      0.9     0.53    -0.22
Bellhorn    1      0.49     0.49    37.6     0.13      5.0     7.33     6.84
Roberts     1      0.325    0.325    1.7     1.91      0.7     0.39     0.06
Total                      28.745  234.0     1.23     28.8    44.49    15.75

The significant multiyear deals in this group are the three year deal to Nixon and the contract extension to Ortiz that took effect after his one year deal for 2004. Over the first two years of Nixon’s deal the Sox are down about 6M. The Sox are obligated for one more year as well. If Nixon stays healthy he can make up some of that deficit, but the Nixon contract will end up as a surprising net negative.

The two contracts given to Ortiz in this period have been major successes both in terms of on field production and value. They represent more than the total positive “Diff” for this group of player transactions.
Player    Years   Total    Cost     VORP   $/10 VORP  WARP1   BPVal     Diff
Schill04    3+    39.5     14.0     72.9     1.92     10.2    26.24    12.24
Schill05    3+    39.5     12.5      1.3    96.15      2.2     1.92   -10.58
Foulke04    3+    22.5      4.5     35.9     1.25      7.3    14.27     9.77
Foulke05    3+    22.5      7.0     -0.7     neg       1.6     1.19    -5.81
Kim04       2     10.0      4.0     -3.0     neg       0.0     0.0     -4.0
Kim05       2     10.0      6.0      0.0               0.0     0.0     -6.0
Williamson  1      3.175    3.175   14.0     2.27      1.2     0.79    -2.39
Timlin04    1+     2.5      2.5     18.3     1.37      3.2     3.47     0.97
Timlin05    2      5.25     2.75    28.6     0.96      5.6     8.93     6.18
Adams       1      0.56     0.56    -1.2     neg       0.3     0.14    -0.42
Arroyo      1      0.333    0.333   24.7     0.13      4.6     6.35     6.02
Myers       1      0.18     0.18     3.5     0.51      0.6     0.32     0.14
Leskanic    1      0.15     0.15     8.3     0.18      1.8     1.41     1.26
Total                      57.648  202.6     2.85     38.6    65.02     7.38

Total                      86.393  436.6     1.98     67.4   109.52    23.12
Looking at contracts as a single group has a huge effect here as the awful second seasons from Schilling and Foulke wipe out much of their first season value. Flags fly forever and all that, but from a simplistic value perspective those contracts which had been great values may end up as busts. Schilling has 2 years at 26M left and Foulke has 1yr+ a mutual option at 11-15M. If they don’t bounce back, they’ll significantly reduce the overall positive “Diff” for this set of player transactions.

We also pick up all of Kim’s terrible contract. The two bright spots are Timlin, mostly in his second season, and Arroyo. And I probably should have pushed Arroyo back to 2002/03 when he was claimed. He has signed new contracts each subsequent season, but ultimately his price is set by the CBA and his production and that all flows from the good decision to claim him on waivers. If you push all of Arroyo’s value back to Epstein’s first off-season, then you exacerbate the fact that most of Epstein’s high value moves were already from that first off-season.

Mostly on the strength of Ortiz, the Epstein players as a group have been very good values. That may or may not still be true by the time the Schilling and Foulke deals expire.

2004/2005 Transactions
Player    Years   Total    Cost     VORP   $/10 VORP  WARP1   BPVal     Diff
Renteria    4     40.0     10.0     26.7     3.75      1.8     1.41    -8.59
Varitek     4     40.0     10.0     45.4     2.2       6.2    10.67     0.67
Bellhorn    1      2.75     2.75     4.9     5.61      1.7     1.3     -1.45
Mueller     1      2.1      2.1     32.3     0.65      5.2     7.85     5.75
Payton      1      1.75     1.75     3.6     4.86      0.8     0.46    -1.29
Mirabelli   2      3.0      1.5      4.8     3.13      1.3     0.88    -0.62
Olerud      1      0.75     0.75     8.7     0.86      1.9     1.53     0.78
Graff       1      0.65     0.65    13.8     0.47      1.6     1.19     0.54
Total                      29.5    140.2     2.10     20.5    25.29    -4.21

The year one return on this group of position players hasn’t been very good. Varitek and Mueller had very productive seasons, but only Mueller was a good bargain because Varitek is basically paid full market rate. Renteria’s first year is a big drag on the overall group. Most of the rest of the players were role players who didn’t have much of an impact on things either way.

As a good value player, Varitek is likely to decline. Renteria is something of a mystery at this point. In total, they represent a pretty iffy 60M commitment.

Player    Years   Total    Cost     VORP   $/10 VORP  WARP1   BPVal     Diff
Wells       2     13.0      9.0     24.1     3.73      5.2     7.85    -1.15
Clement     3     25.5      6.5     21.6     3.01      4.8     6.83     0.33
Arroyo      1      1.875    1.875   16.9     1.11      4.7     6.59     4.72
Miller      1      1.5      1.5      5.9     2.54      1.9     1.53     0.03
Halama      1      1.0      1.0     -4.9     neg       0.2     0.09    -0.91
Mantei      1      0.75     0.75    -3.1     neg       0.1     0.04    -0.71
Bradford    1      0.7      0.7      5.0     1.4       1.1     0.7      0.0
Myers       1      0.6      0.6     10.0     0.6       1.8     1.41     0.81
Papelbon    1      0.325    0.15    10.9     0.14      1.7     1.3      1.15
Total                      22.075   86.4     2.55     21.5    26.35     4.27

Total                      51.575  226.6     2.28     42.0    51.64     0.07

All of the new pitcher acquisitions were right around their financial break even point. Only Wells and Clement had solid seasons. In terms of the positive overall “Diff”, that is solely dependent on Arroyo. Again, if you push him back to 2002/03 then the pitcher group would be negative as well.

Wells is still owed 4-9M and is at best someone who can come close to hitting his financial breakeven point. Clement is owed 19M over two years on his back loaded contract. It’s likely that he’ll fall short of his break even point.

Overall, last off-season was right at the break even point in terms of value with some significant risk going forward.


Here are the summary tables.
Year                   Cost     VORP   $/10 VORP   WARP1    BPVal      Diff
2002/03   offense     19.7     242.8     0.81       31.0    43.71     24.04
2003/04               28.745   234.0     1.23       28.8    44.49     15.75
2004/05               29.5     140.2     2.10       20.5    25.29     -4.21
Total                 77.945   617.0     1.26       80.3   113.5      35.6

Overall, Epstein did a fantastic job putting together an excellent offensive team. However, most of the great value signings were in his first off-season and the subsequent extension to Ortiz.

Year                   Cost     VORP   $/10 VORP   WARP1    BPVal      Diff
2002/03   pitching    34.3     129.9     2.64       34.8    43.92      9.65
2003/04               57.648   202.6     2.85       68.6    65.02      7.38
2004/05               22.075    86.4     2.55       21.5    26.35      4.27
Total                114.023   418.9     2.72       94.9   135.29     21.3

This looks like a better, more consistent performance by Epstein than it is. About half of that 21M “Diff” is from Wakefield and a good chunk of the rest is from the likely overvaluation of Schilling’s 2004 season. Epstein has been closer to break even on his pitching acquisitions than this table suggests. All things considered, that’s probably not bad – it may even be above average – but it’s a much different record than for his position player acquisitions.

The overall, overall…
Year                   Cost     VORP   $/10 VORP   WARP1    BPVal      Diff
2002/03               53.947   372.7     1.45       65.8    87.63     33.69
2003/04               86.393   436.6     1.98       67.4   109.52     23.12
2004/05               51.575   226.6     2.28       42.0    51.64      0.07
Total                191.915  1035.9     1.85      175.2   248.79     56.88

There is a steady decrease in cost efficiency as represented by $/10 VORP. The overall value of 1.85M/10 VORP is probably quite good though. The tremendous performance of the players from 2002/03 – the position players in particular – was largely unsustainable for a number of reasons. One overlooked reason is that the move from mostly signing complementary players for 2-3M to signing foundation players for 6-12M makes it much harder to maintain high cost efficiency or value scores. No player will be so bad and yet still get a lot of playing time that he’ll produce significant negative value. That creates an effective floor for every player. A 2M player can only be overpaid by 2-3M. However, that same player has a virtually unlimited ceiling and every year you see a 2M player produce 10-12M in value. As long as a GM or team is mostly signing cheap players their efficiency and value scores will be skewed positively by that. Once you start to deal with more expensive players, those players have much greater room for financial downsides (see Renteria, 2005) and much smaller room for upside even while enjoying very successful seasons (see Varitek, 2005). Once Epstein and the Sox moved from mostly signing cheap complementary players to sometimes signing expensive building blocks it was essentially guaranteed that the efficiency and value ratings would go down. And as long as the productivity stays high, that’s not a problem.

There is also a rather noticeable (and steep) decline in the “Diff” column. Why if that trend continued, we should be thrilled Epstein is gone. Or something. Part of that is due to mistakes that Epstein made, but a lot of it is reflective of the changing needs of the team.

Despite the fact that he had such a short tenure, Epstein has really been in charge through three distinct phases. In the first, he inherited a talented, expensive and under performing team. His ask mostly involved adding inexpensive complementary players. That phase was mostly a huge success. The bullpen was under resourced and he should have fired Little as a condition of taking the job, but phase one was a success.

In the next phase he was given significant payroll space to acquire two stud pitchers to try to make one last run in the Pedro window. That worked out pretty well too. The sudden health problems of those two pitchers leaves the medium and long term wisdom of those moves in doubt, but a championship is a championship.

In phase three, Epstein was asked to expand the championship window while building a bridge of younger core players to the hoped for eventual next generation of home grown players. That’s a much more diffuse goal and it’s probably not much of a surprise that the moves made in this phase are the least impressive. Varitek and Wells performed ably in their roles, but Renteria and Clement really didn’t establish themselves as the kind of prime age bridge players that the Sox had hoped.

And that’s the end of the story. There seems to be some controversy about how willing the organization will be about trying to go young in a fourth phase, but reportedly that’s the direction that Epstein wanted to move. To some extent, despite the championship, Epstein’s tenure has to be considered incomplete. The next phase – transitioning young players onto the roster as part of a sustainable long term winning organization – is what really separate the great GMs from the good and lucky ones. We’ll get a chance to see how Epstein’s prospects develop, but we won’t really get a chance to see how Epstein might have managed that transition of the organization.

#2 Lose Remerswaal


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Posted 01 November 2005 - 08:22 PM

Nice work, especially appreciate the brief definitions of VORP, etc, as some of us are a bit remiss in studying these measurements.

Shows once again how useful Kim was in 2003 . . . and how bad he was in 2004. But no one remembers his 2003 season, well, hardly anyone.

#3 Pumpsie


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Posted 01 November 2005 - 10:12 PM

Great work, Philly. An interesting way to look at acquisitions.

Of course, we'll only know if this is meaningful if we do ALL 30 MLB teams and compare.

(ducking)

#4 Clears Cleaver


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Posted 01 November 2005 - 10:23 PM

Meuller and Ortiz explain a huge part of the "value" that was created.

#5 Eric Van


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Posted 01 November 2005 - 11:46 PM

Great work, philly, with the usual caveat that BP's defensive metrics aren't worth the pixels they're composed of.

#6 philly sox fan


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Posted 02 November 2005 - 12:30 AM

Great work, Philly.  An interesting way to look at acquisitions.

Of course, we'll only know if this is meaningful if we do ALL 30 MLB teams and compare.

(ducking)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I've done this for most of the FAs from last winter. Epstein has so far produced a "$/10 VORP" of 1.85M. MLB as an industry last year was 3.04M.

Now that's a little apples to oranges because some of the Epstein players (notably Arroyo) had their salaries depressed due to service time issues whereas all the players from last were obviously FAs. But that wouldn't close such a big advantage.

Same considerations apply to this as well, but another way of looking at it is that the Epstein players have produced 130% of cost whereas last year MLB players produced 88% of cost.

The best team from last winter was StL with a "Diff" of 12.64M. The Epstein Sox have averaged just under 19M after a pretty blah 2004/05 off-season.

I'm pretty sure the Epstein Sox would be right at the top any kind of across the league comparison.

#7 yecul


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Posted 02 November 2005 - 09:35 AM

As always, great stuff and much appreciated.

It's interesting to look back. This type of thing really shows that you just need a hit or two (or three) to compensate for any number of misses. 2003 was such a huge success because they picked up a handful of cheap guys and gave them opportunities. If none worked out they'd still likely break even. If even one does (and obviously Theo got more than just one) then you're going to have HUGE gains.

This is contrasted by someone like Renteria. If he does what you expect then you break even (a la Varitek). Anything short of that and it quickly becomes a big loss. Millwood probably gave CLE a huge gain this season and that easily could have been Theo's (if I had my preference at least). Additionally, someone like Renteria will be handed a job and rack up lots of playing time to earn his plus/minus. Someone like Giambi is simply jettisoned once he doesn't pan out so the impact (plus/minus) is minimized.

#8 nolasoxfan

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Posted 02 November 2005 - 09:49 AM

Wow, nice work.

My memory of player performances (i.e., what I saw--or think I saw--, "the qualitative") jibes well with your quantitative analysis.

Damn, well done.

#9 67WasBest


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Posted 02 November 2005 - 10:11 AM

Philly, that opitimizes what SoSH is about, quantifying with numbers what we think we see with our eyes. Thanks for the great work, I know that took some serious hours to construct.

#10 smastroyin


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Posted 02 November 2005 - 11:44 AM

Already mentioned, but the thing that really sticks out here is David Ortiz is a Goliath amongst Lilliputians in this analysis. in 2005 Ortiz produced fully 1/3 of the VORP at about 1/9 of the contribution of Epstein signings.

I don't think this is enough to change any conclusion about Theo's ability, but I am always leery of an analysis which contains such a large outlier.

This also doesn't mean that credit shouldn't be given for finding and signing Ortiz. Of course, it might mean that Papi should get himself a new agent. Or at least get some presents from Manny.

#11 soxfan121


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Posted 02 November 2005 - 12:19 PM

1. Theo might have been the best "Plan B" General Manager in baseball history.

Bold statement, to be sure. But looking over his tenure with the team a constant theme emerges - THANK GOD Plan A never happened. Some of the great Plan B moments, and the Plan A failures that made them possible:

Plan A: Edgardo Alfonzo offered 3/$21M, signs with SF for 4/$24M
Plan B: Bill Mueller signs for 3/$7.5M.

Mueller won the 2003 batting championship and was a key component to each of the three "Theo teams" that won 95 games or more and the World Series. Alfonzo has dropped off a cliff, performance-wise, and SF was shopping him at the 2004 & 2005 deadlines for a bag of balls.

Plan A: Jose Contreras offered 3/$24M
Plan B: Bronson Arroyo claimed off waivers

The Red Sox rented out an entire hotel and Theo reportedly broke a chair upon hearing Contreras signed with the Yankees. Arroyo won the AAA Pitcher of the year award in 2003, served as a valuable set-up guy in that year's playoffs, then was the 4th starter for the 2004 & 2005 Red Sox at bargain basement prices.

Plan A: Sign Jeremy Giambi to DH
Plan B: Sign David Ortiz to be the backup 1b/DH

People forget that Giambi was signed in December 2002 (one of Theo's first moves) and Ortiz in February 2003 (after scout Dave Jauss saw him play in the Dominican Winter League). Giambi was to be the primary DH - and spent most of April & May of 2003 sucking while Ortiz languished on the bench (and quietly asked his agent to facilitate a trade out of Boston). Giambi hurt his shoulder and Ortiz took the full-time DH job and had one of the great 3-year stretches for a hitter of the last 20 years.

Plan A: 2003 Bullpen-By-Committee
Plan B: Trade Shea Hillenbrand for Byung-Hung Kim

The BBC was a complete disaster, forcing the trade of cheap (and arb controlled) Hillnebrand for Kim. Kim performed well in the 2003 regular season before imploding in the playoffs, flipping off the fans, THEN getting rewarded with a 2/$10M deal which resulted in ONE victory and the Sox paying Charles Johnson to catch for Tampa Bay (for $9M) in 2005.

Plan A: Trade for Livan Hernandez
Plan B: Trade for Jeff Suppan & Scott Sauerbeck

The plan at the 2003 was to upgrade the rotation and to get a LH reliever. Initially, the Scott Sauerbeck & Mike Gonzalez for Brandon Lyon & Anastacio Martinez deal was a great one (and would have been even better, now knowing what Gonzlaez has developed into) but Lyon's arm injury forced the Suppan & Sauerbeck for Freddy Sanchez modification. However, Hernandez was THE target and Gammons reported many times that Minaya wouldn't do business with Theo (for some reason). I don't know that it's really FAIR to list it like this, but the reality is that Suppan was terrible, Sauerbeck got hurt, Sanchez has done nothing with his career and Lyon went on to become a piece of the Schilling deal.

Plan A: Trade for Javier Vazquez
Plan B: Trade for Curt Schilling

In the winter of 2003, the big need was to improve the pitching staff and Theo targeted Javier Vazquez, then of the Expos. However, Omar Minaya refused the Sox package and accepted Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera & Randy Choate from the Yankees for the 28-year old All-Star. Theo then moved to Plan B, Schilling, and sold him on Boston over a 72-hour period and Thanksgiving dinner. Schilling, of course, won 21 games and three in the post-season (two with his ankle tendon stapled to the bone) in dramatic, unforgetable fashion.

Plan A: Sign Keith Foulke, 3/$21M
Plan B: ???

No idea what Plan B might have been, and it's argubaly the only time that Plan A panned out. Of course, that analysis is based SOLELY on 2004, when Foulke was great and closed out all 4 World Series victories, as well as threw 100 pitches in 56 hours of Games 4, 5 & 6 iin the ALCS. That stretch likely ruined his body & career, but it was worth it.

Plan A: Trade Manny & Nomar for Arod & Magglio Ordonez
Plan B: Keep Manny, trade Nomar in July for Orlando Cabrera & Doug Mintybitch

There's some dispute over who "killed" this deal, but the fact is that Theo negotiated the trades and then someone (99.9% sure it was Lucchino) killed the deal over $15M (over 5 years). Maybe, if this trade happens, Magglio doesn't destroy his knee and become a shadow of his former self. However, there's really no doubt that Arod would have been despised in Boston for his phony nature and blue lips. Meanwhile, Manny wins the 2004 World Seris MVP and OC plays SS like Luis Aparicio in his prime, en route to the World Series win.

Plan A: Sign Carl Pavano to a 4/$40M deal
Plan B: Sign Matt Clement to a 3/$30M deal

Pavano ended up signing with the Yankees (his mom's favorite team) for 4/$44M and then blew out his shoulder in June, never to be seen again. Clement wasn't great, but at least he stayed healthy.

Plan A: Sign Edgar Renteria 4/$40M

See what I'm talking about? Plan B, Orlando Cabrera, at 3/$24M was a better value. As was Plan C, David Eckstein at 2/$10M or whatever he makes now.

It's not a stretch to say that Theo did better with failure than any other GM I can think of ... but it's also not a stretch to say that the Boston Red Sox would have been much worse off if not for Theo's Plan A failures.

Now, there were PLENTY of Theo moves that DID work out, very well. Picking up Brandon Lyon off the waiver wire, then including him in the Schilling deal was brilliant. Signing Mike Timlin to anchor the bullpen in 2003 was an excellent move. Trading for Todd Walker, then Mark Bellhorn, then Tony Graffanino was excellent every time he rolled the 2b dice. Pokey Reese was very valuable to the team in 2004. Alan Embree, acquired by Theo as the Assistant GM (in 2002) was a good trade and then was signed to a 3 year deal, which provided good value until 2005 (when Embree, also a victim of overuse in 2004, broke down and couldn't get anyone out). Retaining Doug Mirabelli (acquired in 2002 by then-Interim GM Mike Port for Justin Duscherer) to be Tim Wakefield's personal catcher has been a good move, as was signing Mirabelli (and Wakefield) to contract extensions. Trading Henri Stanley for Dave Roberts (and a legendary stolen base & World Series title) and then Roberts for Jay Payton (eventually turned into the mediocre Chad Bradford in mid-2005), Ramon Vazquez (turned into Alex Cora) and AA pitcher Dave Pauley was an excellent move. Trading for Scott Williamson at the deadline in 2003 was an excellent move. Finally, bringing in Kevin Millar, in an epic saga that defines the Theo Era, was a great move for 2 seasons and terrible for one (more on this in a moment).

Some other low-lights, before we move on: Signing Ramiro Bendover (Mendoza) for 2/$6.5M was a disaster. In general, the "back-end of the bullpen" acquisitions have been forgetable (but not killers, because it's the back of the bullpen, for cripessakes) like Chad Fox, Todd Jones, Rudy Seanez, Blaine Neal, and a whole host of others. Signing Trot Nixon to an extension weeks before he suffered a herniated disc in his back and then hamstring problems set in has turned out badly (3/$18M, IIRC). Throwing Matt Murton into the Nomar-OC trade might come back to bite the Sox in the ass someday real soon.

2. Kevin Millar & Theo Epstein should forever be joined at the hip.

Theo made other moves before the Millar acquisition, but none DEFINED him as this did. Millar, in the process of being sold to the Chunichi Dragons by the Florida Marlins, was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox. This was a "no-no" in the world of baseball - usually, clubs allowed guys being sold to Japanese clubs to slide right through the waiver process. But Theo, who had looked into trading for Millar, decided to defy convention and claimed Millar, setting off a near-two-month saga in which Millar, the Dragons and the the Marlins all needed to be appeased. The Red Sox evnetually shipped a AAAA outfielder to Japan to make Chunichi whole, and paid the Marlins ~$2M for Millar. Of course, Marlins GM Larry Beinfest was understandably PO'ed by the whole thing and Theo made his name as a guy who would do ANYTHING to get the job done, even if it wasn't convention or violated "baseball ettiquette".

Millar was, in mnay ways, the poster boy for the Theo years; he had a great 2003 season, a bad 1st half of 2004, a GREAT 2nd half of 2004 when he helped the Sox make and them win in the playoffs, and a terrible 2005 when he was sent out to play everyday despite the presence of another Japan league refugee (Roberto Petagine, the Moby Dick of sabre-geeks) rotted away on the bench. Millar, along the way, coined catch-phrases - "Cowboy Up!", "Idiots Rule!" - and made the media's job easier by being quotable and available. Another Theo acquisition (and another guy who had to extricated from Japan, albeit in totally different circumstances) Gabe Kapler, was also one of the "media guys" that Theo (rightfully) acquired to help with the burden faced by such shy/reclusive guys like Nomar & Manny who wanted nothing to do with the media demands of Boston.

3. In the final analysis, Theo Epstein gets a "A-" for his Boston tenure and should have no trouble getting another job, when he decides he wants one.

Theo got lucky, Theo worked hard, Theo made TOUGH decisions and Theo won a World Series. He brought in lots of "complimentary talent" that meshed well with the "core" left to him by Dan Duquette's tenure (Pedro / Nomar / Manny / DLowe / Varitek). He found bargain-basement values and got super-star level production from them (Mueller in 2003, Ortiz 2003-2005). He found the right pitchers to compliment an already strong pitching staff (Schilling, Foulke) and built a championship-level bullpen in 2004 after failing in 2003 (well, Grady owns most of this blame, as Timlin in the 8th, Williamson in the 9th will ALWAYS haunt Sox fans).

Theo made some brilliant moves; and he was saved by luck or fate or Larry from making some monumentally BAD ones. In the end, he deserves the credit for building the Red Sox 2004 World Series winner, something I will forever be grateful for. He also has left the team in much better shape than he found it in, especially as regards the minor league system. His only real "stinker" deals are the Renteria & Foulke contracts, and as discussed, Foulke's was worth it (in context). And Renteria's still may be (although, it's doubtful).

The Red Sox, into 2006 and beyond, are set-up to rebuild and contend consistently. They have solid, dependable veterans who can help develop the youngsters who will begin arriving in 2006. The "core" of veterans (Varitek / Renteria / Schilling / Timlin / Ortiz) is univerally regarded as guys who "play the right way" and all have a bent toward coaching/managing in the post-playing days. They've got guys who can help the kids learn the right way to prepare and compete. That's encouraging.

In the end, the next GM of the Red Sox has had a lot of the heavy lifting done for them by Theo (just as Theo had it done for him by DD). I hope Theo finds his niche and does really well. He earned a standing ovation from Red Sox fans for his efforts...even if he'll never be around to accept it. C'est la vie.

#12 BelgianSoxFan

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Posted 02 November 2005 - 01:21 PM

Great work philly sox fan. As you point out this method of evaluation has some limitations. It is also very sensitive to a small sample size and it favours the GM who only signs 1M players.

I decided to see at how the new players Theo brought in performed over the rest of their Sox career.

In 2003 their total diff is 56.79 (this the total diff for Walker, Mueller, Millar, Giambi, Ortiz, Jackson, Mendoza, Kim, Timlin, Suppan, Williamson, Sauerbeck, Fox, Lyon and Arroyo (who was aquired in 2003) for 2003-2005-for the Sox - 15 players)
In 2004 their total diff is 9.42 (Cabrera, Reese, Minky, Burks, Kapler, Bellhorn, Roberts, Schilling, Foulke, Myers, Leskanic for 2004-2005 for the Sox - 11 players)
In 2005 their total diff is -9.82 (Rent, Payton, Olerud, Graff, Wells, Clement, Miller, Halama, Mantei, Bradford, Pap - 11 players)

That is why I think Theo's performance was a mixed bag with more good than bad. He had one very spectacular year, one solidly good year and one not-so-good year. I am not even sure that Theo's 2003 is completely unique either. Picking Johan Santana in the rule 5 draft would probably get one close enough to have a comparable year.

#13 Butch Hobsons elbo chips

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Posted 02 November 2005 - 02:36 PM

soxfan121, Solid points all around on Theo's back-up plans success but here is a few comments I thought about while reading it.

People forget that Giambi was signed in December 2002 (one of Theo's first moves) and Ortiz in February 2003 (after scout Dave Jauss saw him play in the Dominican Winter League).

Great point that there was much more interest in Giambi than Ortiz as an Offensive force and many people were trashing Ortiz as someone who had no role on the team even after his Dominican Winter Coach Jauss gave the Red Sox a favorable review that he could be used partly in the field. Theo likely doesn't waste the ink on the contract if he can't fit this guy on the roster as a combo 1B/DH and Ortiz wasn't taking a minor league deal.

Retaining Doug Mirabelli (acquired in 2002 by then-Interim GM Mike Port for Justin Duscherer) to be Tim Wakefield's personal catcher has been a good move,...

Doug Mirabelli - June 12, 2001: Traded by the Texas Rangers to the Boston Red Sox for Justin Duchscherer.
Belli was still left as part of that Duquette core going into 2003 under Theo along with: Tek-Nomar-Manny-Damon-Nixon-Hillenbrand-Merloni-Pedro-Lowe-Wake-Burkett

...but the reality is that Suppan was terrible, Sauerbeck got hurt, Sanchez has done nothing with his career and Lyon went on to become a piece of the Schilling deal. 

Sanchez did well as a Rookie for the Pirates this year.
Freddy Sanchez returned from an 2004 injury to hit .291/.336/.400 in 492 PA in 2005 while playing 3B-2B-SS for the Pirates.
.736 OPS from a utility infielder would be welcome on the Red Sox or even as a part-time 2nd baseman that is acceptable production.
Certainly the group of Cesar Crespo/R.Gutierrez/R.Vasquez & A.Cora (.704ops with Boston/.607 in 2005 overall) have not posted that kind of offense for the Red Sox in the last 2 seasons. Even Bellhorn's collapse this year resulted in a .689ops in 335 PA at 2nd Base.

Plan A: Jose Contreras offered 3/$24M
Plan B: Bronson Arroyo claimed off waivers

The Red Sox rented out an entire hotel and Theo reportedly broke a chair upon hearing Contreras signed with the Yankees. Arroyo won the AAA Pitcher of the year award in 2003, served as a valuable set-up guy in that year's playoffs, then was the 4th starter for the 2004 & 2005 Red Sox at bargain basement prices.

"Georgina Lacayo, manager of the Campo Real Hotel, backed Epstein's story that it was a fabrication that he broke a chair, but that didn't keep Steinbrenner from the Winfield routine, and he actually got someone to write that the action raised questions about Epstein's maturity." -Gasbag 1/04/03

Anyways, the FO individuals/internal scouts involved with signing some interesting young pitcher like Arroyo with 8 seasons of mostly minor league ball in the Pirate organization are a likely a different group than the International Scouts that advised THeo to chase after a big money player like Cuban star Jose Contreras to add immediately to the 2003 Boston rotation.
You can be pretty sure that someone in Boston FO scouting area had their eye on Arroyo for at least a few months to see if the Pirates brought him back in the fold or not. Jose Contreras negotiations would have nothing to do with grabbing Arroyo and giving him a Pawtucket slot.

Bronson Arroyo-February 4, 2003: Selected off waivers by the Boston Red Sox from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Minor Leaguer Bronson Arroyo was relegated to AAA until late in the season when he got 17 relief innings (+3 in playoffs) for the Sox despite clammoring by some people that he should have been promoted to rotation instead of acquiring Suppan.

Clearly, the decision to try and woo the 31+ yr old Contreras was not related to signing a AAA arm for 2003 to pitch at Pawtucket. If anything, they hung onto Burkett for 30 starts that year in Boston when they would have liked to have upgraded to Contreras behind Pedro & Lowe and in front of Wakefield & Fossum.
The last spot/injury starts in the 2003 rotation was filled by Fossum (14), Mendoza (5), Kim (5), Chen (2), Rupe (1) and finally the addition of Suppan (10) late in the summer.

#14 soxfan121


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Posted 02 November 2005 - 08:19 PM

Thanks, BHEC. Good points all around.

Theo likely doesn't waste the ink on the contract if he can't fit this guy on the roster as a combo 1B/DH and Ortiz wasn't taking a minor league deal.


This is an excellent point. The roster situation going into that season was Mueller (3b), Hillenbrand (1b/3b), Millar (1b/OF), Giambi (DH), Ortiz (DH/1b) - 5 guys for 3 spots. In thinking about it more, it's possible that Theo made the call on Ortiz because he knew Hillenbrand was a trade chit if Mueller panned out. Mueller started hitting right away and Hillenbrand played more 1b, likely to keep his bat in the lineup as a showcase (and he did start hot, as usual, spring of 03).

Belli was still left as part of that Duquette core going into 2003...


This was just shoddy fact-checking. My bad.

Certainly the group of Cesar Crespo/R.Gutierrez/R.Vasquez & A.Cora (.704ops with Boston/.607 in 2005 overall) have not posted that kind of offense for the Red Sox in the last 2 seasons.  Even Bellhorn's collapse this year resulted in a .689ops in 335 PA at 2nd Base. 


Another excellent point. That trade, non-trade, trade situation with the Pirates really altered the course of the franchise. To wit: Sanchez replaces the drek noted above. Maybe he replaces Nomar at SS to begin 04 (leaving Pokey at 2b), which sets off a TON of weird permutations. Maybe Mike Gonzlaez is the "closer-in-waiting" here, instead of Pittsburgh. Certainly they save $1M in 2005 on John Halama, maybe cut bait on Embree sooner in 2005, never trade for Mike Myers either? The ramifications of the trade. non-trade, trade were huge. Certainly Theo's evaluation goes way up had he managed to hold on to Mike Gonzalez & Freddy Sanchez.

Jose Contreras negotiations would have nothing to do with grabbing Arroyo and giving him a Pawtucket slot. 

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Frankly, there just wasn't a good "Plan B" to the Contreras signing...unless it's Mendoza. And that makes Theo look godawful and is apples-to-bruised oranges. I probably should not have included it - but in a way, Contreras was where Theo made his rep. Regardless of how "true" the chair rumor is (and I acknowledge it's not), it was our (fans) first real look at the GM - and we all licked it up like ice cream on a hot day. He was tough, he was determined, he was "just like us!!"

The Plan B to Contreras ended up being Schilling, which makes him more a Plan C (as Vazquez was unquestionably higher on the list for age reasons). The 2003 team did suffer from not having another (better than Burkett) SP, but also from the horrible performances from the bullpen.

#15 Doza



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Posted 03 November 2005 - 07:58 AM

Great work Philly. It's very helpful to be able to put a number on a players value based on performance vs. salary.

Looks like Clement was basically market value for 2005.

#16 wade boggs chicken dinner


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Posted 03 November 2005 - 10:34 AM

I've done this for most of the FAs from last winter.  Epstein has so far produced a "$/10 VORP" of 1.85M.  MLB as an industry last year was 3.04M. 

* * *

I'm pretty sure the Epstein Sox would be right at the top any kind of across the league comparison.

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Very interesting stuff as usual Philly. As always, it's great to see data about these transactions.

I'm wondering, though, since you've done a study of the FAs from last winter that addresses this issue about signing cheap FAs versus expensive FAs. Do you know what the $/10 VORP across MLB for FAs signed for over, say, $15M total contract value?

#17 philly sox fan


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Posted 03 November 2005 - 07:41 PM

I'm wondering, though, since you've done a study of the FAs from last winter that addresses this issue about signing cheap FAs versus expensive FAs.  Do you know what the $/10 VORP across MLB for FAs signed for over, say, $15M total contract value?

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For hitters:

Over 15M total: 3.33M/10 VORP and 62% of AAV

Under 15M total: 1.89M/10 VORP and 122% of AAV

Many of the premium hitting FAs (Beltre, Beltran, Ordonez) were pretty poor buys. The under 15M players are often cheap guys on one year deals who can be cost efficient while only being worth 2-3 wins. They're useful, but you can't put together a roster of just those players.

For pitchers:

Over 15M total: 5.26M/10 VORP or 69% of AAV

Under 15M total: 3.13M/10 VORP or 109% of AAV

High end pitchers are mix of guys like CLemens and Pedro with guys like Russ Ortiz and Eric Milton.

#18 Eric Van


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Posted 03 November 2005 - 10:31 PM

Great analysis, 121. My quibbles:

Plan A: Sign Jeremy Giambi to DH
Plan B: Sign David Ortiz to be the backup 1b/DH

Not really like the others. The other cases, if Plan A is unavailable, plan B is put into place. In this case, as you note, they were both Plan A for different roles. Theo deserves credit for recognizing that every contender needs a 10th hitter, a guy with a serious stick, on the bench as a backup to 1B, DH, RF, and LF (Ortiz could fill this role because Millar could move to the OF). A lot of GMs don't realize that this guy will usually get 350+ PA and end up with a "4th OF" type who is underwhelming.

Plan A: Sign Carl Pavano to a 4/$40M deal
Plan B: Sign Matt Clement to a 3/$30M deal

I don't think I know more about baseball than Theo, and if I were able to figure out that Pavano had "I will be overpaid this winter" tattooed on his forehead, as I did here, I think Theo could, too. As a low K guy with an injury history who had been pitching in a big ballpark in front of a great defense and had a great RISP / empty split for the only time in his career -- there's no way the Sox thought he was an attractive FA target at his likely price. Every other FA offer they made was consistent with my own studies of value, and if the same were true of Pavano, then they didn't offer him more than the $8.5 / year (plus incentives) they offered Clement.

#19 Rudy Pemberton


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Posted 03 November 2005 - 10:45 PM

I don't think I know more about baseball than Theo, and if I were able to figure out that Pavano had "I will be overpaid this winter" tattooed on his forehead, as I did here, I think Theo could, too.


But Eric- you also stated that Clement was a mediocre pitcher before the Sox got him and you also suggested that Theo would never ever trade Nomar for mediocre or average players, and he ended up doing just that. So- there's a disconnect, right? I know you later on defended the Clement move and the Nomar move, but that seemed like backwards thinking...Theo's smart and made these moves- so maybe there's a way to rationalize it?

My opinion (all speculation) is that the supposed interest in Pavano, and the real interest in Renteria, may have been driven by factors other than what Theo wanted. Renteria was a Henry favorite, and while I don't know if Pavano was in FLA when Henry was there; that pursuit seemed odd from the get go. Now, I know some thing that the loud pursuit of Pavano was a smokescreen, but I think there was something there.

Frankly, I think most here thought Renteria was vastly overpaid; as well as Tek...and by the end of the contracts, both will probably be signings that don't generate a ton of value. But Theo still made them, and he makes other poor deals that don't match up with SOSH think, right?

Every other FA offer they made was consistent with my own studies of value


Now, I assume you know a heck of a lot more of this than I do...but did they offer a contract to Pavano? Radke? Byrd? What about Adrian Beltre? Drew? The list goes on and on and the vast majority of us don't know what offers were made except for the ones that were accepted.

Edited by Rudy Pemberton, 03 November 2005 - 10:48 PM.


#20 Rough Carrigan


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Posted 03 November 2005 - 11:56 PM

Nice work, Philly and 121.

I wonder if the credit due to Ron Jackson is being forgotten here. Theo's two biggest successes might have been Ortiz and Mueller.

Mueller hit like 5hit in spring training 2003. He was terrible. Then, according to what I read, at the end of the 2003 grapefruit league, he asked Jackson to work with him and Papa Jack got Mueller to plant his right foot after striding (batting lefty, obviously) with his toes pointed toward the pitcher rather than toward the third base dugout as he'd always done. This helped Mueller clear his hips more easily and got him the biggest power year, by far, of his career. According to another story, when Theo and the baseball ops guys looked at film of Mueller in 2002, they were worried because he never ever seemed to be hitting the ball beyond the outfielders. Papa Jack helped change that.

And Papa Jack also supposedly worked a lot with Ortiz to do the same thing, open his hips quicker to be able to clean out inside pitches, like Paul Quantrill's 2 seam fastball in the 12th inning of ALCS game 4 in 2004 and Woody Williams' slider in the first inning of game 1 of the World Series.

Papa Jack certainly helped.

#21 Butch Hobsons elbo chips

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Posted 04 November 2005 - 02:53 PM

Theo deserves credit for recognizing that every contender needs a 10th hitter, a guy with a serious stick, on the bench as a backup to 1B, DH, RF, and LF (Ortiz could fill this role because Millar could move to the OF). A lot of GMs don't realize that this guy will usually get 350+ PA and end up with a "4th OF" type who is underwhelming.

I bet someone has a woody for Craig Wilson about now...and will Theo successor recognize him as the next Millar. LOL

Geez if the Pirates moved Wilson's arbitration salary and planted Free Agent Mueller at 3B which returns Freddy "mole!" Sanchez to super-sub, they'd be a much more balanced team coming into their All-Star hosting season.

#22 soxfan121


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Posted 04 November 2005 - 04:36 PM

I wonder if the credit due to Ron Jackson is being forgotten here.  Theo's two biggest successes might have been Ortiz and Mueller.

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Coupled with Philly's data in the first post, this is a legitimate and important question. Ortiz & Mueller (and to a lesser extent, especially in 2005, Millar & the 2b) were the basis of the value in the last data set (and it's ultimate decline). Ortiz & Mueller improved so much from their previous baselines that coaching had to be some signifigant aspect to it. How much? No one could truly answer that with certainty.

#23 Paul M


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Posted 04 November 2005 - 04:43 PM

I dunno...Mueller had a career year, but has settled into a baseline not that far out of whack the last two years vs. his healthy years, and I'll gie EV props who ex ante called it.

As for Papi, there were adjustments made, but that went into the decision to sign him, and 27 year old who bust out aren't that rare.

I do think Jackson has been a real asset to most of the hitters--Tek from the right-side for sure--but the coach can only do so much. He can't make Gabe Kapler drive the ball or help Edgah vs. righties.

I really think it stinks that this is a period where we'll need the best GM and plan to ensure this team makes the transition smoothly. I really wanted to see what Theo had in mind since some of the bigger moves usually do fail to yield great returns over the the 3 or 4 year period. It was a short run of three years, but we'll be talking about him probably through the rest of the decade on an almost weekly basis is my guess.