Sunday, November 25, 2007

Santana and The Winners Curse

If you must have Santana, here he is.

The most valued commodity in baseball is low-salaried talent under your control, an approach that allows you to overspend for other areas of weakness. The Red Sox, the most successful of the Moneyball teams, clearly understand this. Spending money to make a splash guarantees nothing, and you may just lock yourself into both bad contracts and bad chemistry.

Among the Red Sox high value, low cost contracts include:
  • Kevin Youkilis
  • Jonathan Papelbon
  • Dustin Pedroia
  • Jacoby Ellsbury
  • Jon Lester
  • Clay Buchholz
Having these 'commodities', baseball's 'raw materials' as it were, is akin to having oil or gold in the ground, proven reserves, which almost certainly will rise in value.

Established players carry higher price tags for past production, and expected production at similar levels to the past. For example, with Mike Lowell, is he more likely to hit .320 with 25 homers and 120 RBI, or hit .290 with 20 homers and 90 RBI? I'd argue the latter, although quite content with the Lowell signing.

Most competitors underestimate the importance of The Winner's Curse. You can go the following website and experiment with a variety of applications.

Johan Santana, winner of a pair of Cy Young Awards, has a career on a trajectory to become a Hall of Famer. Rumor is that he has already turned down over 18 million dollars a year to pitch for the Twins. Rumor also has it that the Twins seek as much as possible for Santana (three to four upper echelon prospects including a couple of major league ready players), for ONE YEAR guaranteed of Santana. Only the richest clubs can afford to bid with both prospects and dollars, and the accompanying luxury tax considerations for some teams. Negotiating an extension would clearly be a precursor for any team willing to part with so many prospects.

We already know that no team has won the World Series with one player's salary dominating their payroll beyond a certain amount. Even with Santana's positive health history, no guarantees exist, expressed or implied that this will continue. His proven track record in the AL means a lot.

The Red Sox projected starting rotation for 2008 includes:
  • Josh Beckett (arguably the post-season MVP)
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka (seeking to meet higher standards)
  • Curt Schilling (twilight season)
  • Jon Lester (seeking breakout season)
  • Clay Buchholz (projected as a possible number one starter)
  • Tim Wakefield (possibly part of a rotation designed to allow more rest for the entire staff)
The two leading pitching prospects in the minors, Justin Masterson and Michael Bowden, both are not major league ready, from what we 'understand'.

To an extent, what transpires represents philosophy. I'd be inclined to continue the developmental pitching track, and try to avoid suffering the Winners Curse. Last year the Yankees suffered the Winners Curse with their abysmal Clemens bargain. Whether A-Rod and Mariano Rivera will continue that faux pas remains to be seen.

Whatever the Sox choose to do, I hope they educate themselves in the Winners Curse.

15 comments:

BCC said...

Right on.

Getting Santana entails risk (what happens if he goes Zito/gets badly injured?).

Not getting Santana entails risk (what if our young guys never amount to much & Santana wins 25 for NYY?).

I don't know the right answer. My gut tells me I'd rather see the Sox rely on the home-grown young guys, but there's a reason why my gut isn't the Red Sox GM!

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more. We're finally in the enviable position that every team in every sport wishes to be in - loaded with young cheap talent and just waiting to watch it blossom, bringing great chemistry with it. Please don't get Santana. Plus, everyone I know really likes these kids as people and players.

Jason Price, MS, CSCS, ATC, LAT-MA, NCSF-CPT, USAW Club Coach said...

You guys are nuts. Prospects are just that Prospects. If you can get a 2 time Cy young winner and keep him from going to your rival you do it. Were talking bout prospects! Not proven major league talent! But, Prospects! From your minor league system if you can produce one or two major league viable players every 3-4 years that is great when you are a big market team. The sox have produced several of late. If it costs you two who played in the majors last year, coco and one not major league ready prospect you pull the trigger. Its the biggest NO brainer in the history of earth!!

Anonymous said...

I think part of the Red Sox reason for acquiring Santana is too keep him out of pinstripes.

Anonymous said...

Jason Price: your a moron. Buying proven major leaguers will get you nowhere (see 2007 cubs and yankees) Bringing along prospects wins you rings (see 2003 Marlins and 2007 Red Sox) The Yankess have been buying every proven free agent out there for the past 6 years, and they got nada out of it. The entire competitiveness of the MLB revolves around a front office's ability to scout young talent. Don't talk about it just being "prospects", your obviously an idiot.

Anonymous said...

barry zito/eric gagne....but santana is more connected to the sox schilling,big papi,manny all friends..this one is a tough one and i am wary of giving up young talent...the last few years we gave up a lot for beckett/lowell although that worked out...this one has me at least on a gut level kind of nervous...its all rumors,at least its not buckholtz/lester/ellsbury...i still think we signed schilling this year because i think the sox thought santana would be a free agent next year...i feel this is a deal that was on the plate just not this year.. secondly that means when becketts contract is up we will have to ante up especially if we give santana what he wants...and beckett has proved himself to the sox....hard call

Jack said...

y deal doesn't include Ellsbury, I'm good with it.
If our 2008 lineup was Beckett, Santana, Schilling, Matsusaka, and ??
, you could practically start printing the WS tickets now.

NeverNude said...

You guys are insane. I'm with Jason. You are the same bunch that wouldn't trade Pedro Martinez for our 3 prized pitches (See Pavano, Okha and Kim). I heard Brian Rose is going to be the next Roger Clemens, let's hang onto him. It is ridiculous to think that Lester, Masterson, OR Bowden will amount to be anywhere as close to the pitcher Santana is and will continue to be for 5 years. We retain our 3 best prospects/little MLB Experience (Bucholtz, Ellsbury, Pedroia). This is a trade that has to be made.

NeverNude said...

And Anonymous, before insulting anyone's intelligence and calling them "an idiot"...

Your - You're... different meanings.

Nothing worse than an illiterate, smug "fan".

Anonymous said...

NeverNude- YOUR an idiot too, we were clearly the best team in baseball this year and we're bringing everybody back. Forget Santana! And don't give me that "your the same bunch" BS. Don't take my opinion on one trade and think you know me. It sounds like you are the same bunch of fans that wanted to get A-Rod in 2003.

Jason Price, MS, CSCS, ATC, LAT-MA, NCSF-CPT, USAW Club Coach said...

Anyone who is going to call me out and not leave there name has no Balls. To anonymous at 2:55pm you are an No Balls idiot. How can you justify holding onto all of your prospects when you can get a 2x cy young winner. What happens when you have to resign Papelbon, Youk, Pedroia, Delcarmen, Lester, Buckholz, Elsbury all within three years of each other. You think you can afford that. Lets be honest, If you don't make the deal you are one of the top three in the AL next year. Make the deal you are The top team in MLB and if everyone stays health and produces a shoe in for the World Series. I stand by my statements and at least I have the balls to leave my name attached to my comments.

meccaleccahi-meccahineyho! said...

Anonymous 2:55.
Obviously a huge douche bag. Never mind 'your'. "Buying proven major leaguers will get you nowhere." WTF do you call Curt Schilling? Or Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Keith Foulke, etc.? Without them your ass probably wouldn't know a baseball from a skidmark. The Yankees have been giving extra cream to dudes way past their prime. Santana is 28. Jackass. Scouting young talent is essential to the development of teams, but that cheap talent alone does not in and of itself make champions.

homesnatch said...

Trading for pitching gets you no-where???

Pavano and PTBNL for Pedro Martinez

Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon, + 2 Minor Leaguers for Curt Schilling

Annibal Sanchez, Hanley Ramirez, + 1 for Beckett + Lowell.

Crisp, Lester, Lowrie, Bowden for Johan Santana

What is the difference?

Anonymous said...

Silly question but.... "If it's not broke...Why mess with it?"
There is enough talent in the farm teams to make any MLB team wish it were their Christmas. Obviously you have seen that this year!!
We are Red Sox..We are a team and strive to be the best but not at the cost of becoming like the Yankees!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 7:27 AM:

"Crisp, Lester, Lowrie, Bowden for Johan Santana"

Delusional may be the right term for you if you truly think Santana is coming here for NO less then either Buchholz and/or Ellsbury.