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JC Bradbury Chat


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#1 absintheofmalaise


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Posted 02 December 2010 - 01:41 PM

We're pleased to announce that JC Bradbury has agreed to do a chat with us from Noon to 1pm on Thursday 12/9. He is an economics professor and Chair of the Health, Physical Education and Sports Science department at Kennesaw State University and is an author and blogger about baseball. His new book is Hot Stove Economics: Understanding Baseball's Second Season and is available at amazon.com.

Please post your questions in the thread ahead of time. If time allows, JC will answer follow up questions during the chat. If any lurkers have questions for JC, Please PM them to a member.

#2 Worst Trade Evah


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Posted 03 December 2010 - 01:32 PM

There have been some uncomfortable interactions between academically-oriented baseball researchers, and analysts from other traditions, such as Tom Tango and mgl at the InsideTheBook blog (http://www.insidethebook.com/ee), and to a lesser extent at Baseball Prospectus. What do you see as the issues here? Why do academic papers or books about baseball topics so resolutely refuse to examine or cite the research from people like Tango? How much of that is due to the fleeting nature of baseball research on the web as opposed to the durability of cited academic research -- even when the academic research is of inferior quality?

What can/should be done, if anything, to permit a richer interaction between these analytic communities?

For what it's worth, I have worked at a large university for a number of years, but my impression is that the academically-oriented analysts simply ignore much of the great work done on the some of the better analytic sites, and do not engage meaningfully with those writers. At best, blogs are regarded as incubators of ideas some version of which can then be published (maybe) in traditional academic venues, not as places where high-level interactions about the ideas can happen (which seems to be the perspective of your paper with Dave Berri earlier this year).

Edited by Worst Trade Evah, 03 December 2010 - 01:56 PM.


#3 absintheofmalaise


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Posted 06 December 2010 - 07:20 AM

Thanks for taking the time to do this chat JC.

Yesterday, the Nats shocked the baseball world by signing Werth to a 7 year $126 million dollar deal. You posted on your blog that you have Werth valued at $127 million over 7 years and Crawford valued at $135 million over 7 years for average teams. IIRC, you use Marginal Revenue Product and how a player will contribute to an increase in MRP in your calculations. Could you give a brief explanation of what you mean by an average MLB team and an above average team and how much more MRP those players would contribute to be worth the dollars quoted.

#4 mabrowndog


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Posted 06 December 2010 - 07:43 AM

Thanks for stepping to the plate, J.C.

* With the CBA due to expire after the upcoming season, do you have a feel for what a new agreement might bring in terms of salary management parameters? In particular, revenue sharing, luxury tax thresholds, tax rates for cap violators, closing of loopholes (such as "let's wait until after opening day to announce an extension" wink wink)? Is there anything that might surprise fans who follow baseball finances? How does the nation's still-struggling economy factor in?

* Speaking of the economy, heading into 2010 foreign currencies such as the Yen, Euro and Aussie & Canadian dollars were forecast to rise to record levels vs the US dollar through 2011. Some recent forecasts are calling for that trend to reverse, particularly with the Yen. How does such volatility affect how MLB teams mine and develop talent overseas, especially in Japan? Similarly, how does it affect their marketing approaches in those regions as they seek to gain broader exposure?

#5 Worst Trade Evah


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Posted 06 December 2010 - 10:29 AM

1. Has there been an explosion of player salaries in recent months, with the Howard, Werth, Teixeira and Sabathia contracts as examples (and Lee on the horizon)? Is that any sort of bellweather for the economy as a whole?

2. Do you have any knowledge as to what extent teams do formal value analysis of players? From most sabermetric perspectives, the Howard and Werth contracts (at least) seem like ridiculous over-pays. Do those particular front-offices just ignore valuation research, have their own, or is there some other justification?

3. Any opinions as to Jeter's worth to the Yankees, on and off the field?

#6 Frisbetarian


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Posted 08 December 2010 - 08:55 AM

Thanks so much for agreeing to answer our questions, J.C. I have a few:

I know you are not a fan of the use of a "replacement player" in sabermetric studies (and I completely agree). Would you please tell us why?

When doing your player evaluations you use the Fielding Bible's Plus/Minus numbers for defense. These purport to measure each player's runs saved above or below average, yet over the past three seasons Plus/Minus does not total zero, which, if it is measuring based on average, it should. In fact, since 2008, all MLB players in Plus/Minus are an aggregate 1040 runs above average (+342 in 2008, +414 in 2009, and + 284 in 2010). Outfield seems to be the largest problem area, with left, center, and right fielders +229, +337, and +390, respectively, over the past three years. My question(s) are were you aware of this discrepancy? How much do you trust these numbers accuracy? Do you have any opinion (in general) on how much data is required to make any defensive metric usable?

Finally, your win to revenue curve seems to have a revenue decline after 60 wins. Could you please explain this?

Good luck with the new book. It looks fantastic, and I'm hoping Santa leaves one under my tree.

#7 czar


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Posted 08 December 2010 - 12:23 PM

JC, thanks for stepping up and answering some of these questions-- I really enjoyed reading The Baseball Economist.

In recent years it appears (at least subjectively) that there has been a large shift towards signing young "superstars" to long-term contracts which buy out the tail end of their arbitration (at perhaps a slight bump) and first few years of free agency (likely a discount relative to the free market). This seems to have allowed smaller-market teams like the Brewers (Ryan Braun), Marlins (Hanley Ramirez), Nationals (Ryan Zimmerman), and the Diamondbacks (Justin Upton) (among others) to keep talented, home-grown players for longer periods of time. It also seems to allow a player a more guaranteed source of income in exchange for pushing off the potential of free agency in their mid-late 20's (arguably the statistical "prime" of their careers), where they might be subject to fervent bidding wards between the usual spenders like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Mets, etc.

My two-part question is thus:

Is this idea of small market teams trying to sign young talent with 0-4 years of service time to franchise-friendly guaranteed contracts a trend you see continuing (or expanding) in the future? If so, how do you think this affects the market for free agency for big spenders like the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, teams who have historically relied on acquiring top-tier pieces by use of their fiscal might?

#8 Fratboy


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Posted 08 December 2010 - 09:17 PM

JC, I enjoyed your previous book, and just bought your latest using the Amazon link here. Definitely looking forward to some holiday reading!

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. Since 2003, MLB's revenues have exploded, in large part to MLB Advanced Media. Is this growth sustainable, even as the country remains mired in a recession?

#9 Orange Julia


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Posted 08 December 2010 - 09:20 PM

What is going to be the biggest surprise or unlikely story in the off-season or have we already seen it with Werth to Natstown?

#10 E5 Yaz


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Posted 08 December 2010 - 09:46 PM

Thanks for taking our questions. There has been a great deal of talk that in the next collective bargaining agreement, changes will be made as to how and how much drafted amateur players can be paid. Are there floors/ceilings that would work with draftees that ownership and union could agree upon?

Also, how much of an advantage is it really in relation to the luxury tax threshhold for a team ... hypothetically, of course .. to reach a long-term agreement with a recently traded-for player, but wait until after the start of the season to announce it? Is it really that much of a financial savings, or is it more a matter of appearances?

#11 sachmoney


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Posted 08 December 2010 - 10:12 PM

JC, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, we really appreciate it.

I started reading your posts on your blog and I have checked out The Baseball Economist, which I look forward to reading it over winter break. I'm very intrigued by your work because it combines two of my prevailing interests: sports and economics. As an economics major with a strong passion for sports, I have looked increasingly at sports through an economist's perspective; that is to say looking at players not just by their productivity on the field, but by their financial worth and their resulting value. Sports economics is a field that interests me, but I don't have much exposure to. I think it is something that I would enjoy doing. I would like to learn more about the field.

My questions are more about how you got into sports economics research. I know you have an economics background, but how did you progress from mainstream economics to this sub-field? What resources were available to you in pursuing this topic of research? How would you describe the current environment for this field? What sort of opportunities are available? Clearly, there is a demand for this kind of data and research, but is it an economically viable pursuit? Is it a growing field? Are most of the developments in the field spurred by academia or are sports organizations looking for more sports economists? Additionally, is there any reading or other resources you recommend exploring?

Thanks again for taking the time to answer our questions, and I look forward to the insight that you share with us.

Edited by sachmoney, 09 December 2010 - 04:46 AM.


#12 Trautwein's Degree


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Posted 09 December 2010 - 06:52 AM

With the large contracts being signed this offseason, do you think owners are betting on inflation in light of the Feds quantative easing policies?

#13 Trautwein's Degree


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Posted 09 December 2010 - 06:54 AM

How concerned were the Red Sox about NESNs declining ratings? Do you think last year's ratings impacted how the Sox have approached this offseason?

#14 absintheofmalaise


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Posted 09 December 2010 - 09:13 AM

What do you think the market will be for Pujols and do you think that the Cardinals can afford to keep him?

#15 czar


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Posted 09 December 2010 - 09:34 AM

This question sort of lines up with a couple asked, but I figured I'll throw it up anyway.

When defending the Werth contract on your blog, you take into account expected league revenue growth over the length of the contract-- one thing that has constantly come up during big Sox signings over the last half decade is the ability of the player to foster revenue growth within the team itself. People are saying the signing of Carl Crawford "juices" an apathetic fanbase and will help sell tickets/merchandise/whatever before Christmas. The large posting fee the Sox had to pay for Matsuzaka was considered merely "an investment that will repay itself" with the influx of Japanese fans, tourist packages, TV deals, etc.). The Yankees recently and very publicly just went through this whole ordeal with Jeter.

When a lot of us look at Carl Crawford's on-the-field peripherals, we find it hard to believe he's a $20+ million/yr player through his late 30's (although I don't think we quite know if these contracts represent a new market landscape). However (payroll/luxury tax flexibility aside), do you think front offices have (or should have) a padded "above and beyond on-the-field" value on certain individual players which factors in additional, non-traditional, revenue streams that would "soften" the perceived overpay?

Edited by czar, 09 December 2010 - 09:34 AM.


#16 jbradbur

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 12:00 PM

Hi Folks,

Thanks for inviting me to chat. I've had very little time to read these questions in advance, so I only have a few answers in the can. I'll post these first, and then get to as many questions as I can. Also, I'm a horrible typer, so I apologize in advance for the typos.

#17 jbradbur

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 12:01 PM

There have been some uncomfortable interactions between academically-oriented baseball researchers, and analysts from other traditions, such as Tom Tango and mgl at the InsideTheBook blog (http://www.insidethebook.com/ee), and to a lesser extent at Baseball Prospectus. What do you see as the issues here? Why do academic papers or books about baseball topics so resolutely refuse to examine or cite the research from people like Tango? How much of that is due to the fleeting nature of baseball research on the web as opposed to the durability of cited academic research -- even when the academic research is of inferior quality?

What can/should be done, if anything, to permit a richer interaction between these analytic communities?

For what it's worth, I have worked at a large university for a number of years, but my impression is that the academically-oriented analysts simply ignore much of the great work done on the some of the better analytic sites, and do not engage meaningfully with those writers. At best, blogs are regarded as incubators of ideas some version of which can then be published (maybe) in traditional academic venues, not as places where high-level interactions about the ideas can happen (which seems to be the perspective of your paper with Dave Berri earlier this year).


Well, since I've been a part of some of those discussions, my own impression is that many members of the sabermetric community are unfamiliar with the standards of research expected within academia. Its' not necessarily that sabermetric research is wrong, but that it's findings cannot be accepted at face value when presented in an academic forum. When I submit an article to a journal, I cannot cite a blog post as legitimate research. Some disciplines go so far as explicitly prohibiting citation of work that hasn't passed through a standard peer review process; this includes working research papers that in all likelihood will eventually be published. In my view, the proper way to handle this is to cite good sabermetic findings, but follow up with the expected empirical rigor to demonstrate that "yes, this finding is legit." The second problem is that some of the work done my sabermetricians isn't very good. It doesn't get cited because it's bad. There is bad academic work too, and it doesn't get cited.

But academics frequently do cite good sabermetric work. Bill James is often cited in academic articles. I cite sabermetricians when they deserve credit. I find it odd that I have been attacked for dissing sabermetrics with I've probably cited more sabermetric writing in the academic literature than any other academic author. I've cited Bill James, Pete Palmer, John Thorn, Voros McCracken, and even the pseudonymous Tom Tango in my academic writing. And I have argued that academic authors can benefit from sabermetric ideas as long as they have undergone proper scrutiny.

Could you cite some examples of academic ignoring good sabermetric work? Maybe that would help me understand your frustration.

#18 absintheofmalaise


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Posted 09 December 2010 - 12:01 PM

We appreciate you taking the time to do this JC.

#19 jbradbur

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 12:02 PM

Yesterday, the Nats shocked the baseball world by signing Werth to a 7 year $126 million dollar deal. You posted on your blog that you have Werth valued at $127 million over 7 years and Crawford valued at $135 million over 7 years for average teams. IIRC, you use Marginal Revenue Product and how a player will contribute to an increase in MRP in your calculations. Could you give a brief explanation of what you mean by an average MLB team and an above average team and how much more MRP those players would contribute to be worth the dollars quoted.


By an average team, I mean a team that is a true-talent .500 team. The reason I use this assumption is that because the returns to winning are not linear---wins are worth more to winning teams than losing teams---players are worth different amounts to different teams. How much more a player is worth to a winning team is a very specific calculation that requires knowing exactly how much better a team will be with that player over the term of the contract. So, how much better Crawford will be specifically for the Red Sox than an average team would take me a while to figure out, and I'd have to make some pretty bold assumptions about how good the team will be for the next seven years. But for example, in my book, I estimate that C.C. Sabathia was worth about $30 million more valuable to the Yankees over the term of his deal than he would have been to an average team.

#20 jbradbur

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 12:04 PM

With the CBA due to expire after the upcoming season, do you have a feel for what a new agreement might bring in terms of salary management parameters? In particular, revenue sharing, luxury tax thresholds, tax rates for cap violators, closing of loopholes (such as "let's wait until after opening day to announce an extension" wink wink)? Is there anything that might surprise fans who follow baseball finances? How does the nation's still-struggling economy factor in?



I hope that I'm right here, but I think the changes to the CBA are going to be pretty minor. I think we might an end draft-pick compensation other than sandwich picks. And maybe there will be some tidying up of loopholes. Baseball fought a huge war in 1994-1995. After that battle, I think everyone figured out exactly how much bargaining power each side has. Though there have been some minor skirmishes since then, in the end I think everyone is happy with their share of the pie. I think the real league-union battle is about to happen in the NFL. I see similarities to MLB in the 1970s with the way things are unfolding in the NFL. The players union finally has a good labor leader in DeMaurice Smith, and I think the owners may be in for a shock like the one Marvin Miller gave MLB owners.

As for the economy, it always looms over CBA negotiations, but we seem to be moving forward towards a recovery. Both sides are not likely to panic and grab more of the pie, nor is it healthy enough to feel like it's worth fighting for more. But, this is all speculation on my part.

#21 jbradbur

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 12:05 PM

Speaking of the economy, heading into 2010 foreign currencies such as the Yen, Euro and Aussie & Canadian dollars were forecast to rise to record levels vs the US dollar through 2011. Some recent forecasts are calling for that trend to reverse, particularly with the Yen. How does such volatility affect how MLB teams mine and develop talent overseas, especially in Japan? Similarly, how does it affect their marketing approaches in those regions as they seek to gain broader exposure?


Well, as the dollar weakens, the biggest change in talent will be more marginal players heading to Japan and Canada. It may also mean fewer foreign stars coming to the US. But on the plus side, it's now cheaper to sell baseball to foreign consumers. A weak dollar means that it's a good time for MLB to make further strides in Asia. Maybe this is the boost the Blue Jays need to compete in the AL East.

#22 jbradbur

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 12:09 PM

1. Has there been an explosion of player salaries in recent months, with the Howard, Werth, Teixeira and Sabathia contracts as examples (and Lee on the horizon)? Is that any sort of bellweather for the economy as a whole?


I think so. Even in the heart of the US recession, MLB revenue continued to grow. As teams expect revenue to increase with the economy, players become more valuable and teams are willing to spend more for them.

2. Do you have any knowledge as to what extent teams do formal value analysis of players? From most sabermetric perspectives, the Howard and Werth contracts (at least) seem like ridiculous over-pays. Do those particular front-offices just ignore valuation research, have their own, or is there some other justification?


I'm not aware of much literature on valuation to draw on. Teams are very much aware of how their performances affect winning. These methods differ from team to team. I think Howard was overpaid, but I don't think Werth was too far off target. I mean, it's on the high side, but I think it's justifiable.

3. Any opinions as to Jeter's worth to the Yankees, on and off the field?

I estimate that Jeter is worth about $10 million year on the field . He's worth a bit more on the field because the Yankees are a good team. Now, off the field is difficult to value, and it's not a project that I've undertaken. But, the contract that Jeter signed is a guide. The off-field "Mr. Yankee" premium is likely somewhere between $3-5 million.

#23 jbradbur

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 12:17 PM

I know you are not a fan of the use of a "replacement player" in sabermetric studies (and I completely agree). Would you please tell us why?


Replacement-level thinking is based on the notion that there is a vast supply of equally-talented players at the bottom the league. This is not the case, the distribution of talent across players is bell-shaped. Players who aren't in the league are a real step-down from major-league players. Now, this doesn't mean that cheaper inferior players don't put downward wage pressure on marginal players---I think they do, as did economist Simon Rottenberg in the 1950s---but taking the step of valuing the bottom level of players at the league minimum is wrong. Having the worst player in the league on your team will better your team than just randomly grabbing a minor-league player who earns the minimum. And adding the next best player not in the majors to your roster isn't easy. There are 29 other teams whose player control covers far beyond their rosters. If you want a guy who you can pay $400K who would net you $1 million in revenue, another team isn't going to hand him over for free just because he's not on its big-league roster.

I'd also like to add that 1/3 of the league is considered to be below replacement level. And 15% supposedly cost their teams more than $1 million. GMs make mistakes, but eight players per team who shouldn't be there? I don't buy it.

And finally, do sabermetricians really wish to infiltrate the mainstream? I could explain every sabermetric concept to my grandfather who was born in the deadball era without resorting to WAR, VORP, FART, or whatever. "Hey Papa, getting on base is good, because it doesn't make outs and gets one player closer to the plate. And though that guy may not get hits often, when he hits it he gets more than one base, that's why we use a slugging average. What's a good OBP and SLG, well here are the league averages..." See how simple that was. My grandfather's been dead for 20 years, and I think he still got it. My seven-year-old daughter gets it. Replacement level is an unnecessary concept that complicates discussing things that we already know. Baseball has a big enough lexicon, let's just stick to it.

#24 jbradbur

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 12:21 PM

When doing your player evaluations you use the Fielding Bible's Plus/Minus numbers for defense. These purport to measure each player's runs saved above or below average, yet over the past three seasons Plus/Minus does not total zero, which, if it is measuring based on average, it should. In fact, since 2008, all MLB players in Plus/Minus are an aggregate 1040 runs above average (+342 in 2008, +414 in 2009, and + 284 in 2010). Outfield seems to be the largest problem area, with left, center, and right fielders +229, +337, and +390, respectively, over the past three years. My question(s) are were you aware of this discrepancy? How much do you trust these numbers accuracy? Do you have any opinion (in general) on how much data is required to make any defensive metric usable?


I think John Dewan does a good job of explaining the discrepancy. I don't think it's much of an issue.

I am very impressed with the quality control and continued improvement that BIS has made to its Plus/Minus numbers. I trust them more than any other defensive metric. I'm not sure when a sample size is enough, but I prefer some information to none, and more to less. I wish defensive runs saved had been more fully developed before I wrote my book. My defensive numbers are based on converting P/M numbers to runs using the provided conversion. The only thing I haven't been satisfied with when it comes to BIS's defense is with catchers and pitchers, and translating their stealing prevention (pitchers) and game calling (catchers) into their DRS numbers. But, it's early in development. I hope no one at BIS would take this comment as a criticism. I am quite in awe of all they have accomplished in such a short amount of time.

#25 jbradbur

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 12:36 PM

JC, thanks for stepping up and answering some of these questions-- I really enjoyed reading The Baseball Economist.

In recent years it appears (at least subjectively) that there has been a large shift towards signing young "superstars" to long-term contracts which buy out the tail end of their arbitration (at perhaps a slight bump) and first few years of free agency (likely a discount relative to the free market). This seems to have allowed smaller-market teams like the Brewers (Ryan Braun), Marlins (Hanley Ramirez), Nationals (Ryan Zimmerman), and the Diamondbacks (Justin Upton) (among others) to keep talented, home-grown players for longer periods of time. It also seems to allow a player a more guaranteed source of income in exchange for pushing off the potential of free agency in their mid-late 20's (arguably the statistical "prime" of their careers), where they might be subject to fervent bidding wards between the usual spenders like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Mets, etc.

My two-part question is thus:

Is this idea of small market teams trying to sign young talent with 0-4 years of service time to franchise-friendly guaranteed contracts a trend you see continuing (or expanding) in the future? If so, how do you think this affects the market for free agency for big spenders like the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, teams who have historically relied on acquiring top-tier pieces by use of their fiscal might?


Thanks for the complement. The rules of the collective bargaining agreement that allow teams to pay some players less than their expected worth is the most important tool for helping small-market teams compete with larger markets. And signing players long-term is a way to extend that advantage. I think John Hart gets most of the credit for starting this trend by signing players like Jim Thome (hey, I used to watch him play with Sam Horn for the triple-A Charlotte Knights) to extensions well in advance of free agency.

Players are risk averse, because they have all their value tied up in a single skill. This means that players are typically willing to sacrifice some income for long-term security. Teams are risk neutral, and are willing to value players according to their expected value. They can diversify their risk among many players. If some long-run contracts don't work out, they'll be counterbalanced by those that do. That's why Youkilis and Pedroia were willing to sign deals with the Red Sox that bought out some of their free-agent years, when they would likely earn more than what they will now be paid.

I'm not sure how much of a new trend it is, but it is definitely part of the game and it continues to go on. I've often wondered if Scott Boras combats this tactic (which lowers his commission) by guaranteeing his clients a minimum salary if they promise to wait on free agency. That way Boras can act like a team, and diversify his risk across several clients. The players then get higher salaries with less expensive insurance.

#26 jbradbur

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 12:42 PM

JC, I enjoyed your previous book, and just bought your latest using the Amazon link here. Definitely looking forward to some holiday reading!

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. Since 2003, MLB's revenues have exploded, in large part to MLB Advanced Media. Is this growth sustainable, even as the country remains mired in a recession?


Thanks! MLB can't grow at a rate bigger than the US economy forever, or else our economy will be baseball....But, would that be such a bad thing? The question is how long will MLB continue to grow at a high rate. I expect the US economy to grow over the long term. As we grow wealthier, Americans are going to spend even more time on leisure activities like watching baseball. I also wonder in what ways baseball will be able to expand its market. MLB was really an industry leader on the Internet, with even the normal leader NFL having to copy the MLB model. MLBAM did far better than MLB anticipated. What other new means of spreading baseball to more and rabid fans are still out there for the taking? I'm optimistic that MLB will grow along its pre-recession growth path for the near term.

#27 jbradbur

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 12:46 PM

What is going to be the biggest surprise or unlikely story in the off-season or have we already seen it with Werth to Natstown?


As Peter Gammons said the other day, this is show business. While the Werth story was surprising, I have to believe there will be something to top it. Let's see where Cliff Lee ends up and what he gets paid. And though free agents are the main focus of the hot stove league, there will be a blockbuster trade before the season starts.

#28 mabrowndog


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Posted 09 December 2010 - 12:49 PM

Just want to say this is already one of the best chats we've ever had on this board, and I can't thank J.C. enough for sharing his insights. I also want to credit all the posters in here for the well-written and thought-provoking questions that really cover the bases, and the dopes/mods for setting it up for us.

Awesome stuff. Well done.

Edited by mabrowndog, 09 December 2010 - 12:57 PM.


#29 RingoOSU


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Posted 09 December 2010 - 12:54 PM

The Rockies owner is considering offering Carlos Gonzalez 7/100.
http://www.denverpos...ies/ci_16812598
Is there anyway of looking at this as a good deal, considering they're paying for one year pre-arb and only 3 years of FA?

#30 jbradbur

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 12:54 PM

Thanks for taking our questions. There has been a great deal of talk that in the next collective bargaining agreement, changes will be made as to how and how much drafted amateur players can be paid. Are there floors/ceilings that would work with draftees that ownership and union could agree upon?


I don't see any floors ceilings being agreed upon beyond setting the new luxury tax threshold. The MLBPA has been smart to protect the interest of its soon-to-be members to garner support down the line. Players remember the importance of that signing bonus. I think that the bonding that takes place in the minors with guys who never make it also strengthens their resolve. They've seen guys spend their whole lives working on a dream only to come up short. Knowing that some of these guys have a bonus to fall back gives them some comfort.


Also, how much of an advantage is it really in relation to the luxury tax threshhold for a team ... hypothetically, of course .. to reach a long-term agreement with a recently traded-for player, but wait until after the start of the season to announce it? Is it really that much of a financial savings, or is it more a matter of appearances?


That's a good question, but I don't know enough about the specific rules in place. It always helps to have clever accountants and lawyers on the payroll. I have a buddy of mine who worked as a mechanic for a NASCAR team. One of the things they did to get away was to find extra horsepower through holes in the rulebook. It's not different with big-league teams.

#31 jbradbur

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 01:08 PM

My questions are more about how you got into sports economics research. I know you have an economics background, but how did you progress from mainstream economics to this sub-field? What resources were available to you in pursuing this topic of research? How would you describe the current environment for this field? What sort of opportunities are available? Clearly, there is a demand for this kind of data and research, but is it an economically viable pursuit? Is it a growing field? Are most of the developments in the field spurred by academia or are sports organizations looking for more sports economists? Additionally, is there any reading or other resources you recommend exploring?


I get asked this quite a bit, mostly by strangers when I tell them what I do. The truth is I got into this by accident. I was teaching a class using a baseball example on hit batters to explain the law of demand to students. My former colleague Doug Drinen overheard and wanted to probe further, he wasn't convinced. I showed him some previous tests, and we agreed that a better study needed to be done. So we did one and presented at a conference. It got picked up by a national newspaper. Doug and I did a few more studies and I did some on my own. Every time I wrote about baseball, it seemed like that was what people wanted to read. I liked doing the study and loved working with the rich data baseball had to offer. Plus, it gave me an excuse to read Doug's collection of Bill James Annuals.

Is this a viable field? Yes, but I wouldn't try to do explicitly sports econ. I was an economist before I was studying sports. If I had been doing this out of grad school, I probably would never have found a job. If you want to work in sports,I suggest going into a sports science field like exercise physiology. The medical technology available to study mechanics and injuries is phenomenal, and there are lots of unexplored areas for study. A few years ago, I saw a presentation on muscle cross-section analysis to study recovery. I would have loved to see it applied to pitchers based on days of rest.

Whatever you want to do in sports, boning up on statistics is important. No matter what part of the game you are working in, and even if you're not in the game at all, stats are useful. So, in terms of resources, I say take a few stats classes or college-level courses in applicable field to sports. This includes economics, exercise science, law, and finance.

#32 jbradbur

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 01:11 PM

I've got to head out now for a meeting. Thanks to all of you for your excellent questions. I'm sorry that I did not have time to get to all of them. I'd also like to add special thanks to absintheofmalaise for setting this up.

Best of luck to the Red Sox next season; that is, unless you meet the Braves in the World Series.

#33 AlNipper49


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Posted 09 December 2010 - 01:14 PM

That was great, thanks!

#34 absintheofmalaise


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Posted 09 December 2010 - 01:15 PM

Thanks for taking the time to do this for us JC. Excellent information as always.
I highly recommend buying both of JCs books.

#35 czar


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Posted 09 December 2010 - 01:23 PM

Thanks JC, fantastic stuff.

#36 Joshv02

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 01:23 PM

Fantastic stuff here. Thanks, JC. Looking forward to reading your new book as I did your last.




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