Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Well, the GREATRIOTS did it

Well, after giving myself about ten days to process my feelings, I have come to accept what we all must accept: the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX.  None of us have to accept that Tom Brady is the greatest QB ever (he isn't) or that Belichick is the greatest coach ever (actually, we might have to accept that one).  But the game is done, and thus football season is done.  No more horrible Simmons gambling advice (not sure how he finished on the season, but rest assured that you would have lost money if you followed him).  No more getting mad at thinking about what TMQ is probably writing, even though I don't even read his column anymore.  But most of all, no more NFL for like 7 months--except the combine, the draft, OTAs, training camp, the preseason, and all the ridiculous non-stories we'll have to deal with while trying to pay attention to other sports all summer.   Feels good just saying it.

Before we go, though, just a reminder: the NFL is a fucking joke.

One more reminder that the NFL is a fucking joke.

And finally, a final reminder that the NFL is a fucking joke.

Moving on.

It's almost baseball season yayyyy yayyy yayyy!

/realizes he will once again watch his favorite team lose 90 games this summer

Eh, whatever.  Since it's baseball season might as well start focusing a little bit more on baseball writing.  I hate Jonah Keri (I believe I have established this) even though he's really not that bad of an analyst and an inoffensively mediocre writer.  So, I will pick on stuff he writes even when it's not flagrantly horrible.  YOU CAN'T STOP ME.  Here are some dopey thoughts of his from his "worst contracts in baseball" article from last week.  Most of his picks for the top 10 are fine--I only briefly touch on them at the end of the post.  It's the honorable mentions that mostly get my panties in a bundle.  (Side note: good for him for doing a worst contracts, rather than a "most trade value" article, because fuck Bill Simmons and fuck anyone who appropriates his concepts into their own articles.)  

DH Nick Swisher, Cleveland Indians: two years, $30 million remaining

OF Michael Bourn, Cleveland Indians: two years, $27.5 million

...I try not to weigh team finances too heavily when analyzing these contracts, I can’t discount that the Swisher and Bourn albatrosses will hurt the small-revenue Indians more than they would nearly any other team.

OK, I guess fair enough, those are some non-ideal contracts.  But really, didn't both of them get paid more or less their market value at the time the contracts were signed?  I mean, why make this list at all if you're just going to list every single player who is into his free agent years and hasn't played well lately?  Bourn was awesome in 2012 and OK in 2013.  Swisher was good in both 2012 and 2013.  They both sucked in 2014 and had they been free agents this winter they'd have gotten "prove it" one year deals.  But I'm not sure I see the point here.  More significantly:
SP Edwin Jackson, Chicago Cubs: two years, $22 million

Among pitchers with at least 140 innings, Jackson’s 6.33 ERA was the worst in baseball last year by nearly a full run. With Jon Lester and Jason Hammel now in the fold, Jackson isn’t even ticketed for the rotation anymore. That means he’s either going to be a mop-up man in 2015 or on the chopping block in spring training.

How about some consistency?  Jackson's contract is probably worse than Swisher's/Bourn's, but on the other hand, the Indians don't have a lot of money and are trying to win now.  The Cubs have tanker ships full of money, and aren't really looking to compete until next year.  They could give a shit about giving Jackson $11 million (not even that much for a shitty innings eater, by the by) to make 30 starts this year.  Maybe next year it's a problem, but come on.  It's the Cubs.  Whatever.

SS Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers: eight years, $120 million

Aside from the Boras lesson, the main takeaway here is one that we’ll repeat several times throughout this column: When dealing with players who are still under team control for a couple more years, clubs should tread very carefully before offering an extension that won’t kick in until those years have expired. The consequences of failing to exercise that care can be disastrous.

The Rangers actually have a pretty good revenue stream, so they very well may have foolishly jumped the gun when they gave Andrus that deal.  I mean "jumped the gun" in the sense that they didn't need to try to lock him up to a contract that they were hoping would be a discount over what he could make on the FA market two years later.  But the cautionary note up there is utterly useless for most of the teams that tend to sign players to these kinds of deals (Rays, Rockies, Indians, etc.).  Of COURSE it's risky to sign a player to a big contracts well before they hit free agency.  And then again, the alternative is probably losing that player when they hit free agency, which is risky as well.  Thanks for the GMing tip, Jonah.

SP Bronson Arroyo, Arizona Diamondbacks: one year, $14 million

Technically, Arroyo’s remaining deal is $9.5 million for 2015 plus a $4.5 million buyout to avoid his $11 million salary in 2016. Either way, the result is the same: Arroyo had Tommy John surgery in early July, making him a long shot to return before August and a virtual lock to deliver nothing of value for a moderate-payroll club that’s also overpaying Cody Ross and Trevor Cahill to not contribute.

Teams insure their contracts against major, predictable injuries, like, you know, pitchers who tear their UCLs.  There's no way this is even one of the 100 worst contracts in baseball right now.  Christ, I'd argue that Jon Lester's deal is worse than this one.

SP Ubaldo Jimenez, Baltimore Orioles: three years, $38.75 million


OK, you win this round, Jonah.  That's a terrible contract.  Fucking Ubaldo.  

/Larry B cries Rockies fan tears

1B Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds: nine years, $213 million

Votto signed his gigantic contract in April 2012, and in the two years since, I’ve agonized over whether to include him in my annual look at baseball’s best contracts; I left him off both times and got enough hate mail from Votto supporters to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool. And understandably so: From 2010 through 2013, Votto was around a six-win player every year, and an MVP award winner in 2010.

How quickly things can change. In 2014, he missed 100 games and hit for less power than ever before. It’s human nature to fixate on the recent past, and it’s pretty terrifying to see a 31-year-old player who’s owed $213 million after a season in which he hit .255 with six home runs — terrifying enough to make four years of absolute dominance seem like a distant memory.

So, yeah, again--don't bother making this list if you're just going to list a bunch of guys who are no longer in their team-controlled years and had a bad 2014.  I actually think this belongs in consideration for the list to a greater degree than those "meh" Swisher, Bourn and Jackson contracts, because it's so enormously gigantic.  But Votto isn't just some guy who had a couple good seasons, cashed in, and is now in decline.  He was an MVP contender for five straight years, then got hurt for one, and his best skill is getting on base, which tends to age well.  Jonah seems to know and understand all this and yet here we are.  Annoying.

Now we move into the guys who actually made the top 10.  I was fine with most of the names (Fielder, Hamilton, Pujols, Upton--go find the article on Grantland if you want, I'm not going to link to it) but we have a couple of problems.

4. OF Shin-Soo Choo, Texas Rangers: six years, $116 million (NR)

Oh come on.  Choo is like Votto-lite.  He was a 4 to 6 win player EVERY season from 2008 through 2013.  In fact, 2013 might have been his best year ever.  And like Votto, OBP is his best skill.  Now he stumbles in 2014 and he's got the 4th worst contract in the majors?  GMAFB.  It's especially insane when you factor in this:

7. 1B Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies: two years, $60 million (3)

Dude.  Choo was a mess last year, but he still had an OPS+ of 102 and an OBP of .340.  Even if he just rebounds a little bit in the coming years, and never makes it back to his 2013 form (which he still might do), he's a useful, above-average player.  You can make the playoffs with him hitting 2nd or 6th in your lineup.  Ryan Howard is absolutely worthless.  He hasn't even been above average since 2010.  His career is over.  There is, I don't know, like a 25% chance Choo lives up to the rest of his contract.  Maybe it's less than that.  But it's definitely greater than a 0% chance, which is the likelihood that Howard is worth more than even half his remaining contract.  I get that Choo gets dinged for having six years left instead of two, but he's also three years older than Choo, making it an absolute certainty that he's done.  What the hell is Choo doing ahead of him on this list?

Here’s another over-30 Ranger coming off an injury-plagued season who’s signed for waaaay too long and waaaay too much. Though Choo missed just 39 games last year, he first hurt his ankle back in April, so it’s possible a season-long mulligan is warranted. 

Again: guy has crappy 2014, and it's probably at least in part due to injury, and now he's got the 4th worst contract in the game somehow.  BOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

2. SP Matt Harrison, Texas Rangers: three years, $41 million (NR)

When the Rangers gave Harrison his five-year, $55 million deal in January 2013, they were rewarding a 27-year-old durable ground ball pitcher who’d managed the rare feat of putting up solid numbers in the AL’s worst pitcher’s park, in the process buying out three years of arbitration and two years of free agency. Even though Harrison was never a big strikeout pitcher by the standards of the time, the contract didn’t seem like much of a reach.

But now here we are, with Harrison having made just six combined starts in the past two seasons and coming off spinal fusion surgery. It’s unclear if he’ll ever pitch again in the majors, let alone take the ball every fifth day and produce quality numbers.

Buddy, again, insurance--and it's not even that astronomical of a contract.  Second worst in MLB, after only A-Rod?  WORSE than BJ Upton?  I'm not a Rangers fan, but I'm thinking Jonah might have some kind of grudge against that organization for some reason.  



Isn't Ryan Howard one of those guys who was inexplicably loved by the "ol' school MANAGE FROM THE GUT" types? I didn't know that he sucks now, because SORRY I DON'T WATCH AAAA LOLOZLZOLZOLZ, but I am very happy to hear it.

Also, we don't have to accept that Belichick is the greatest coach ever, but we now probably have to embrace that argument in order to chip away at Brady's legacy. This is the price we pay.

Larry B said...

Ryan Howard has been worth a total of -0.3 rWAR since the start of 2011, and while he was hurt in both 2012 and 2013, he's still amassed almost 2000 PAs in the last 4 seasons. He's a replacement player who still hits in the middle of the lineup because HOME RUNZ. That contract extension they gave him looked to be an absolutely horrible decision when signed, and it has turned out to be even worse than expected.

I love that way of looking at the Brady/Belichick thing. I'm happy to make that trade off. LAWNG LIVE BILLY B!