Archive for December, 2007

Valuing Andruw Jones

After almost no mention of Andruw Jones in the free agent market, he emerges with a two-year, $36.2 million deal with the Dodgers. This is the contract I have been waiting for. Andruw’s 2007 may have been the worst performance, relative to career numbers, by a player entering the final year of his contract in the history of baseball. I was curious as to what this would mean. In the end, I think that one year harmed his value, mainly because it scared away teams from signing a long-term deal.

But, the announcers on the radio this morning couldn’t believe he could command such a big salary. How can I say that 2007 hurt his value, after he pulls in $18.1 million a year? Based on his previous three-years, factoring in salary growth and aging, I anticipate Jones’s performance being worth about $40 million over the next two seasons. This prediction includes his 2007 campaign. Had he signed a five-year deal, like Torii Hunter, he would have been worth $110 million [UPDATE: I found a slight mistake in my initial calculation, and the actual estimate is $108 million.] This is the type of deal Jones missed out on. If Jones does tank, you don’t want to be known as the GM who agreed to it. Fans can live with a two-year mistake.

My numbers are higher than what he got, but not too far off. I wonder if he would have gotten more had his 2007 happened in 2006. Any GM signing Jones has to be wary that 2007 might have indicated a new performance level. Though teams were cautious, I think when you look at his body of work and the shape of his 2007 numbers, there is too much upside there to ignore. The Dodgers have hired a better player than Hunter at about the same price, and without the long-term commitment. I think it’s a good deal for them. I’ll let them handle the log-jam in the outfield.

Jones comes out looking good, too. He gets some big-time money and has the opportunity to hit the free agent market again while he is still relatively young. Like most Braves fans, I grew up disliking the Dodgers, but I will be rooting hard for Andruw. He took a lot of heat in Atlanta for things he didn’t deserve, like not living up to unrealistic expectations. I’ll be sure to get an outfield seat when he comes to Atlanta and I will applaud him.

The Best Sentence I Read Today

I sense, though, that people become frustrated with these metrics because they expect “magic.” In other words, people want a number that answers all questions and reduce the cost of thinking to zero. Models, though, help us explain the world we observe. Models are not “magical”, nor do they remove the need to keep thinking. And that is something to think about when you look at basketball measures, or any other models researchers offer to improve our understanding of our world.

That is Dave Berri at Wages of Wins.

Update: Uh, shouldn’t that be “paragraph”, not “sentence”? I need more sleep. :-)

Valuing Jose Guillen

Yesterday, at our office Christmas party, a student of mine told me the that Kansas City Royals had agreed to a 3-year, $36 million contract with Jose Guillen. “Can you believe that?” he said. To be honest, Jose Guillen is one of those guys whom I lose track of. I know that he’s been good, had some injury and behavior issues, but I couldn’t even tell you whom he played for last year without looking him up. I couldn’t be sure whether he expected me to say “what a steal!” or “how awful!” So, I just stuffed some food in my mouth, nodded, and gave a surprised look. After finishing my cake, I headed back to the office to get a handle on his value.

Over the past three seasons, 2005 and 2007 were similar, while 2006 was awful. For calculating his projected worth I’ll throw out the latter season, because it was heavily influenced by injury and 2007 indicates that he seems to have recovered. But, let’s not totally forget about it when we look at the final number. Also, some in the media have mentioned possibility of a PED suspension for some alleged purchases of steroids and HGH. However, I don’t think there is much risk of a sanction, because it isn’t clear that he violated any baseball rules at the time. Also, the team wouldn’t have to pay his salary during any suspension he might earn, which offsets some of the risk.

So, in saying this, if Guillen plays as he did in 2005 and 2007, I have him pegged at $13.6/year. Throwing out 2006 is a little under-handed on my part, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to anticipate his worth being near $12 million/year. That is a lot of money, but it’s not an awful deal in today’s baseball market. Joe Posnanski and Rob Neyer are skeptical of the deal, but I think the Royals are paying the price they have to pay for the level of talent that they are getting.

And in the midst of all of these signings, Andruw Jones still waits in the wings. There is no way that his 2007 totally sunk his value. When he finally signs a deal, it’s going to be a good bit bigger than this, because he is younger, healthier, and a better player.

Valuing Kaz

Over the weekend, that Astros signed Kaz Matsui to a 3-year, $16.5 million contract
During the past three years he’s averaged $6.6 million per year in value. If we assume that he plays like this for the next three years, then his expected contract value is $19.8 million. (I’m not going to do the age and salary growth adjustments for a three-year deal.)

So, while most of the comments I have seen about this deal are negative, I don’t think it’s such an awful deal. Granted, it would have been nicer to get him for less, but I doubt that was possible.

Bookplates Update

Thanks to all of you who have requested signed bookplates. I put the first round in the mailbox this morning, and you should receive them in the next few days. I am still taking requests: just fill out this form.

I apologize for not being able to comment about the recent free agent signings yet. On top of heavy grading, which I anticipated, my car is in the shop and I have one sick daughter.