Great Moments In Fandom (Part 1, Phillies Fans)

In case you don’t remember: until recently, Werth played for the Phillies.  More precisely, Werth played extremely well for the Phillies.  In 2008, Werth produced a slash line of .273/.363/.498, for an OPS better than all but two full-time Yankees that year (A-Rod and Jason Giambi). In 2009, Werth’s slashline was .268/.373/.506.  In the 2008 and 2009 World Series, Werth put up numbers of .351/.500/.676 – really good numbers (small sample size notwithstanding).  Last year was Werth’s best: he produced a .296/.388/.532 slash line and was 8th in the National League Most Valuable Player voting.

Werth became a free agent after the end of the 2010 season, and this winter he signed a 7 year $126 million contract to play for the Nationals.  Evidently, this decision upset a number of Phillies fans.

So a large group of these fans travelled south yesterday to Washington D.C. to boo Werth.  Many of these fans purchased tickets in right field at Nationals Park, all the better to boo right fielder Werth.  … Click here to read the rest

The Evil Empire Takes On Partners (Baseball’s 2011 Payrolls, Part 2)

The white gap below the blue line in the chart above shows the payroll gap between the Yankees and the other top spending teams in baseball.  The gap still exists, but it’s a lot smaller than it used to be.

The gap between the Yankees and the second-highest spending team in baseball has shrunk from 69% in 2005 to just 17% (over the Phillies) in 2011.  The shrinking Yankees – Phillies gap is shown below:

Instead of the Phillies, let’s focus on our red-hosed neighbors to the north.

Based on the reported numbers, the Yankees – Red Sox payroll gap is now just 25% … but these reported numbers are misleading.  If we include the signing bonus paid this year by the Red Sox to Carl Crawford, the Yankees – Red Sox gap shrinks to 21%.  If we also include a prorated portion of the posting fee paid by the Sox to sign Daisuke Matsuzaka, and the roughly $16 million salary increase the Sox are currently negotiating with Adrian Gonzalez, then the Yankees – Red Sox payroll gap shrinks to something close to 5%.… Click here to read the rest

A Rational Guide to Rotten Starts

When it comes to baseball, it’s easy to screw up a factoid such as “no team has ever started the season 0-4 and gone on to win a World Series”. To the uninitiated, it might sound as if starting 0-4 is a block to winning a World Series, that a team would have to go and “make history” in order to overcome a 0-4 start and win a World Series.

Thing is, a factoid such as “no 0-4 team has won a World Series” is probably meaningless.  In all likelihood, such a factoid is probably just a coincidental intersection of two unrelated facts.  One might also note that no accident involving a nuclear power plant has taken place during a blizzard, but that doesn’t mean we should start building nuclear power plants in Antarctica.

We also have the issue of small sample sizes: not many teams have started 0-5, and not many teams (a bit less than one a year since 1903) have ever won the World Series. … Click here to read the rest

A Good Way to Make a Living (Baseball’s 2011 Payrolls, Part 1)

(I am reporting the Red Sox payroll at roughly $168 million, instead of the roughly $162 million reported by USA Today. For reasons unexplained, USA Today chose not to include Carl Crawford’s $6 million signing bonus in the Red Sox’s payroll calculation. Given that the Red Sox have to pay this bonus to Crawford, and that Crawford’s 2011 salary is about $6 million less than his annual salary for 2012 – 2017, it’s clear to me that this $6 million represents part of the Red Sox’s 2011 payroll, regardless of the label placed on this payment by Theo Epstein and the Red Sox brain trust.)

Predictably, most analysts have focused on the fact that (surprise!) the Yankees have the biggest payroll in baseball.  The Yankees pay more than $200 million combined to the players on their 25-man roster, which they have done for 5 of the last 7 years.  No other team has ever had a payroll above $200 million, or even above $175 million.… Click here to read the rest

The Rational Guide To The First Week In April

John Lackey has an ERA of 22.09. Clay Buchholz is on pace to lose every game he pitches, despite the fact that he’s also on pace to strand every runner he puts on base.  Jon Lester, who led all American League starting pitchers last year in strikeout rate, is on pace to go through the entire 2011 season without striking anyone out.  Lester is also on pace to hit 80 batters this season, assuming that he pitches at least 200 innings.

The Red Sox are on pace to go 0-162.  So are the Rays.  They are each on pace to finish 162 games behind the Orioles.  Of course this will not happen, since the Rays and Red Sox have to play each other and thus both teams cannot finish the season without a win.

The Yankees are on pace to hit 421 home runs this season, which would break the existing record by 157 home runs.  Unfortunately, the Yankees would not hold this record on their own, since the Rangers are also on pace to hit 421 home runs this season.… Click here to read the rest

Headline: Yankees Are Still Rich (WHEW!)

  • The Yankees’ estimated $1.7 billion team value is the highest in baseball, 86% higher than the team in second place (the Red Sox).  The Yankees have been the most valuable team in baseball for the fourteen years that Forbes has been valuing baseball franchises.  Back in 1998, the Yankees’ lead over the then-second most valuable franchise in baseball (the Baltimore Orioles) was only 12%.
  • The YES Network, the regional sports network that broadcasts Yankees’ games and is 34% owned by the Yankees, had over $400 million in revenue in 2010.
  • The aggregate value of the Yankees, the YES Network and Legends Hospitality Management (the enterprise that manages Yankee Stadium, among other things) is a solid $5.1 billion.  Nice!
  • The Yankees took in $325 million in gate receipts (including luxury suite revenue) in 2010, about on par with (or perhaps somewhat lower than) their ticket sales in 2009.
  • The most profitable team in baseball?  You might need thirty guesses to reach the right answer: it’s the San Diego Padres. 
Click here to read the rest

Why Banuelos Is Not Ready For Prime Time

If you troll the comments sections around here, you know that I’ve mentioned the name of Craig Wright. Wright is one of the most important voices on the question of how to handle the development of young pitchers.  He wrote an article for this year’s Hardball Times Baseball Annual on this subject, and I personally consider the article to be the best single piece in the Annual.

(Much of the following analysis is taken from Wright’s chapter “How to Handle a Pitcher” in this year’s Hardball Times Baseball Annual.  If you don’t have a copy of this book, you can read a summary of this chapter here.)

Wright is no basement-dwelling blogger – he’s been a consultant to the Texas Rangers and LA Dodgers, among other teams.  He’s no newcomer to this field – he wrote on the topic of handling pitchers in the book “The Diamond Appraised”, back in 1987.  And he’s no coddler of pitchers – Wright believes that certain pitchers can throw over 150 pitches in a game with minimal risk of injury.… Click here to read the rest

What Baseball Can Learn From The NFL

I’ve written a great deal here about salary caps in baseball.  Also, here, here and here.  I looked at salary caps from every which way I could.  I wrote how salary caps always come with salary floors. I wrote how the revenue-poor teams in baseball (many of which are profits-rich, but that’s another story) could not afford much in the way of a salary floor, so baseball could not afford to have much in the way of a salary cap. So I did say it: baseball cannot afford an effective salary cap.

Unfortunately, I also said that I wished it were not so.  I said that baseball needs an effective salary cap, that I wished baseball split its revenue so that it could afford an effective salary cap. It seemed right to me that baseball should be played on a more even financial playing field, that some teams (like my beloved Yankees) should not be able to spend 5, 7, even 10 times the amount that their revenue-poor (if sometimes profit-rich) cousins in Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay were spending.… Click here to read the rest