Results tagged ‘ Albert Pujols ’
I love the guys at RSBS. If you haven’t stopped by their site, they have witty baseball posts, spiced with political commentary and the occasional (and almost always necessary for the topic) photo of beautiful women.
Yesterday they put up a post you can read here that I would like to respond to.
Now to be fair, Jeff didn’t write his post as part of a dialog with me and he wasn’t able to change his comments based on what I would have said. However, he did say what he did and I’m going to respond to those particular comments as they were written.
****** The writing in red and italics is from RSBS********
“Here’s an idea that will never become reality, but just for fun, let’s think about it.
Albert Pujols, while somewhat showing glimpses of his old self, is on pace to hit 15 homers and drive in 70-some RBIs — a whole lot less than the Halos thought they’d get from a a man making $24 million a year… FOR THE NEXT TEN YEARS.
And how about the $20 million a year the Red Sox are paying Carl Crawford… FOR THE NEXT SIX YEARS. Good thing Theo got out of town!
Of course, Theo already knows, you don’t have to go outside of Chicago to find a big, fat pile of head-scratching contracts. Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano (yep, sCrUBBIES are still payin’ the bulk of that awful) are the most high profile, but until this year, the Dunn, Peavy and Rios contracts made Kenny Williams one of the south side’s most hated”. -RSBS
First of course is that it’s a little early to hold up Albert Pujols as a poster boy for bad contracts. Sure, he has had a rough go of things early on in the first season of his 10yr contract, but I think he should be given at least a full season, not 7 weeks, before we start to grade the success of this signing.
Second, it’s easy to remember those that don’t live up to the size of their contract (Soriano, Crawford, Zito) because they get the most press and draw the greater ire of the fans. Yet those on the other end of the scale (successful players), seem to be at a publicity “disadvantage”. Look, because of the very nature of a 100+ million dollar contract being so huge, no player will ever seem to outplay that contract. And when they do play well and earn their money (ARod 2001-10, M Ramirez 2001-08, D Jeter 2001-10) ……. well……. most fans will look at it as something that they were supposed to do: (ie – “That’s what their getting paid for”).
“The truth is, when money is on the line, pro athletes perform better. Consider the beyond stellar starts of Andre Ethier, Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, Kyle Lohse, Jake Peavy, Zack Greinke and many, many more. The one thing these fellas all have in common is… THEY’RE IN CONTRACT YEARS!” -RSBS
Actually, there’s little or no truth to this commonly held myth. I could use arbitrary examples like Miguel Montero, Robinson Cano, Jhonny Peralta, Mark Reynolds and others that are not performing well in this, their contract year; but it’s better to use actual empirical evidence.
From Bloomberg Sports in 2010:
“Over the past nine years, 177 players performing in the last year of a contract hit for a collective .282 batting average, with an .824 OPS. They also averaged 19 home runs, 51 extra base hits and 73 runs batted in per 500 at-bats.
That’s not much different from their collective numbers from the previous year: .283 batting average, .821 OPS, 19 homers, 51 extra base hits and 74 RBI”
*** Truth be told, I’ve found addition data from the guys at BaseballProspectus that suggests that performance may be up slightly in contract years using a different metric (WARP); however, their study from 1976-2000 was limited to “prominent free agents”, not all players in a contract season were used. If it’s true that players perform better in contract years; that truth should hold for all players, not just “prominent” ones.
“If your paycheck is on the line, you try harder. This is FACT. But if you have the means to fall back on (Albert, Carl, et al.) and you have no pressure to git ‘er done ‘cuz you already got BAZILLIONS in the bank, what incentive is their to be the superstar you’ve always been? I don’t care how bad@ss you are, the trend in performance speaks loudly: once a player reaches his monetary apex, he regresses.” -RSBS
The clear implication is that players only try to do their best when money is on the line. It suggest that they don’t play to “Win the Game”, play for pride, or just play for the simple love of the game. It says that money is the overriding force that drives the players, and that once they have that money, all bets are off when it comes to performance.
Let’s look at the first part, that players in contract years try harder….”FACT” as you say. The one major problem with that statement is that trying harder doesn’t necessarily translate into playing better. Michael Bourn can try as hard as he wants to hit 20 HR’s this year in order to increase his free agent value, but it isn’t going to happen, at least not without sacrificing another part (AVG) of his game. And as was pointed out in the Bloomberg data, the stats don’t reflect improved play as a whole.
The second part of your statement, which you suggest that players aren’t as incentivized to perform because they already have money in the bank, seems most cynical. Yet you are not alone in this line of thought. I hear fans of athletes from all sports say the same thing. But why is it that we only talk about athletes this way? Why not movie stars? Using this reasoning, I see no reason to view Tom Hanks next movie. Surely he must have phoned-in his performance because he is already rich. How about Warren Buffett? He’s super rich. Should I just ignore his next stock “buy” because he doesn’t really need it to show profit in order to make his next mortgage payment?
“There’s nothing wrong with paying a dude $25 million a year if he puts up $25 million a year numbers. So why not reward those who do and save money (and face) by doing it on a year-to-year basis?” -RSBS
The answer of course is that baseball free agency is one of the purest forms of free-market economics that exist. Each player is worth exactly what each owner is willing to pay and what each player is willing to accept. In Albert’s case, it was $240M. A huge salary to be sure, but the market can move the other way also. Vlad Guerrero was unable to find a buyer for his services this season at a price for which he was willing to perform. Why would we want to put artificial barriers on this market? Besides, to think that if we limited contracts to one year that Albert could have been had for “just” $24M is crazy. Pujols is getting $24M per year because the total guaranteed package is worth $240M. If Albert could only sign a 1 year deal , my guess is that it would take $35+M to get him for 2012. Why? Because if he struggles this year he wouldn’t be able to command nearly as much in 2013, so he has to get his money now. We see this play out all the time in the NFL. They don’t have guaranteed contracts, so the players command huge signing bonuses in order to get their money up front.
One last thing. It seems implicit in your overall comments that if teams weren’t under the weight of 10yr $100M contracts that they would have a better chance to win. I’m not really sure what makes you think this is the case. In fact, we can go back to the pre- free agency era and see that it’s not actually the case. Boston went from 1952 to 1966 without ever winning more than 84 games in a season. Philadelphia only had 3 winning seasons from 1954 to 1974. Bad management is bad management, it doesn’t matter if you have 10 year contracts or if you were are able to treat players as property.
“Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.” – Jeff
I certainly don’t hate you, you guys have a great blog and I love reading it, but in this case, you’re wrong.
The National have as many wins (8) as the Angels (4) and the Red Sox (4) combined.
The Pirates have scored less than half as many runs (19) as the Cubs (40), yet they have the same record (3-7)
Who said only the Cubs play day baseball? The Tigers have played 10 games (7-3) this season, all day games.
Conventional wisdom…..pitch lefties against the Reds to neutralize their lefty/lefty heart of Votto and Bruce. So far the Reds are 3-1 vs left handed starters. Oh, BTW, they are just 1-5 vs righties.
What did I buy Pt I? The Dodgers cost Magic Johnson and his partners $2Billion, looks good so far as LA is off to a 9-1 start.
What did I buy Pt II? Artie Moreno signed Albert Pujols for a quarter of a billion dollars. He has 0 HR in his first 41 AB’s. That is the longest homerless streak to start a season in Albert’s career.
They guy Albert displaced at first base, Mark Trumbo, is tied for the team lead in homers despite limited AB’s (16)
Albert who? The Cardinals lead the majors with a .299 team batting average and are second in HR’s (15)
What does it mean Pt I? Shelly Duncan has seen the most Pitches/AB (5.06) of any player. He is hitting .320 with just 6 strikeouts. Adam Dunn is second in P/AB (4.85). He is hitting .200 with a league leading 16 K’s.
What does it mean Pt II? Chad Billingsley leads the majors with a 0.63 ERA. He has a 15.0 K/BB ratio. Jake Westbrook is second in ERA with 0.64, he has a 0.80 K/BB ratio.
Baltimore hitters have 41 extra base hits (XBH), which is tops in the league. Pirate hitters have just 14
Who saw this coming Pt I? Jack Westbrook, Joe Saunders, and Kyle Lohse have a combined record of 5-0 with a 0.87 ERA.
Who saw this coming Pt II? Tim Lincecum, Dan Haren, and CC Sabathia are a combined 0-3 with an 8.25 ERA
Edinson Volquez leads the league in stolen bases against (5), but wait, he also leads the lead in caught stealing against (3)
Defense was a big concern for Detroit going into the season, and they do lead the league in the errors category…………. with the fewest (1)
Austin Jackson is hitting .405 (15 of 37) with 2 HR’s, he has 4 RBI. J.P. Arencibia only has 2 HITS (0.71 BA), he has 5 RBI.
Christmas certainly has come early in Anaheim and Miami for the fans of the Angels and Marlins. Over the past week the Marlins signed Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, and Mark Buehrle to long term deals, while just today the Angels spent $327M to bring in Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson.
Heath Bell (3yr/$27M)– I like this signing. Bell has been solid the last 3 years, converting 90% of his opportunities to reach 132 saves. Those 132 saves are the most by any pitcher over the past 3 seasons. And I really like the deal when you compare it to the contract that the Phillies signed Jonathon Papelbon (4yr/$50M) to last month. Papelbon may be 3 years younger than Bell, but over the past 3 years he has fewer saves, fewer wins, fewer K’s, and a higher ERA.
Jose Reyes (6yr/$106M) – This is an interesting signing. Reyes won the NL batting title last year, although the way he pulled himself out of the last game of the season after getting a bunt hit must have had Ted Williams frozen head spinning. However, it’s the only time in Reyes’ career that he has gone over the .300 mark and I would think it unlikely that he could match last years.337 average again.
The more important part of the signing is what will happen with Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez has made it fairly clear that he doesn’t want to move from the shortstop position. I will not be surprised if Hanley is traded before the start of spring training.
Mark Buehrle (4yr/$58M) – Buehrle is probably the most consistent pitcher in the game. He has pitched 200+ innings each of the last 11 seasons; he has won between 12 and 19 games in 10 of those 11 years, and he has a lifetime 3.88 ERA while only going over the 4.00 mark 3 times in the last 11 years.
CJ Wilson (5yr/$77M)—Wilson stays in the AL West, leaving Texas for the Angels. I think it’s a great move for LA. Wilson put up some excellent pitching numbers in a hitters ballpark in Texas and moves to Anaheim were conditions are neutral to slightly favoring pitchers. Adding him to a staff that already includes Jared Weaver and Dan Haren puts the Angels right at the front on the list for potential AL champions.
Albert Pujols (10yr/$254M) – If people want to debate the fiscal sanity of the contract, let them. All I know is that Albert Pujols is the best hitter in the game, and when you have a chance to put the best hitter in the middle of your lineup, you take it.
42HR/126RBI/123R/.328BA ………………… that isn’t last year, that’s his CAREER 162 game average. Case closed.
Jim Hendry was promoted from assistant GM/Player Personal Director to General Manager on July 5th, 2002. That was nearly 9 years ago. I think it’s fair to say that Hendry has had plenty of time to make his mark on the Chicago Cubs and that he is responsible for the players on the field. The question I’d like to look at today is, Should Jim Hendry be back next season as the GM of the Chicago Cubs? Let’s look at a couple of topics and I’ll make the case For or Against.
Since Hendry’s first day back in ’02 thru Sunday’s extra inning loss to St. Louis, the Cubs are 718-712. During those nine seasons the Cubs have made the playoffs three times.
The first playoff appearance was the fateful 2003 season when the Cubs were just five outs from making it to the World Series before losing to the Marlins. Chicago also made the post seasons in ’07 and ’08, both times being swept out in 3 games in the NLDS. While a .502 winning percentage and only one playoff series win might not seem like much, let’s put things in perspective. In the previous 1430 games before Hendry, the Cubs were 670-760, .469, with only two winning seasons and one playoff appearance, which the team lost 3 games to nothing against Atlanta. Overall, the team has been more competitive the past 9 years and the playoffs always seem to be a possibility before each season.
Is this where we are at? Content with a .500 team, because that’s what Hendry has given us. Look, I’m not asking for 90+ wins every season, which is unrealistic. But there have been 59 teams that have won 90 or more games in the last 9 years and the Cubs have only done it once. Just on average they should have done it twice. And that is just not acceptable for a team that is in the top 10, if not top 5, in revenue. I’m not trying to say that money buys you wins, but it doesn’t hurt.
Over the years Hendry has made several good trades that have helped the Cubs both in-season and over the long run. In 2003 Jim made a trade with Pittsburgh for Kenny Lofton. Lofton made an immediate impact on the Cubs that summer hitting .327 and helping lead the team to the playoffs from the lead-off spot in the lineup. While Lofton turned out to just be a one year rental for the Cubs, Chicago also received Aramis Ramirez from Pittsburgh in that trade. Ramirez has been a cornerstone for Chicago at third base and has now played more games there than any other players except Ron Santo and Stan Hack. During his tenure Hendry has also traded for Derrek Lee and Nomar Garciaparra as well as getting other teams to take disgruntled players Sammy Sosa and Milton Bradley. In 2007 Hendry was able to sign the number 1 free agent on the market, Alfonso Soriano, the first time the Cubs have ever gotten the top guy and then came back in 2008 and signed the top Japanese player, Fukudome, that was out there.
As for the minors, the Cubs Opening Day roster in 2011 contained 16 players that started with and came up through the Cubs system. This includes players like Starlin Castro, Darwin Barney and 2008 ROY Geo Soto that look to be mainstays up the middle for a long time to come.
On the other hand, while Hendry’s signings and trades looked good at the time, the Cubs have since been hamstrung under the weight of those deals. But being buried under millions of dollars in deals doesn’t have to be a never ending problem, in fact Chicago will be freeing up huge amounts of salary after the 2011 season. The problem is, the Cubs didn’t win anything while they accumulated all those players and spent all that money. And without winning a championship, what’s the point.
As for the minors, the Cubs have only had 2 of their last 9 number 1 picks in the amateur draft make the team (Colvin & Cashner) and they have come up dry this season when they needed a pitcher or 4 to fill in due to injuries. It might be easy to say that they have a few guys that look good but just aren’t ready, but he has had 9 years to restock the minors, why do we have to wait another couple of years to see if they can play.
Considering the overall record of the Cubs under Hendry, which will probably be under .500 by the time this season is over, I can only think of one reason why Jim Hendry should remain as the Chicago Cubs GM this off-season.
I’ve been busy the last week and a half and I’ve only made
one post and really haven’t had a chance to get around to everyone else’s post,
but that will change tonight starting with this post.
Instead of touching on one topic I’m going to go Larry King
style and just put down a bunch of random thoughts to catch up on some of the
things I’ve missed this past week.
Spring training games started, it’s good to see baseball on TV.
Coco Crisp was arrested on
suspicion of DUI. Why do people continue to do this?
Carlos Silva and Aramis Ramirez got into a dugout scuffle
after the first inning, somewhere Carlos Zambrano is smiling.
The Cardinals have already lost Adam
Wainwright for the season. The Cubs NL Champion odds in Vegas remain
unchanged. That tells you more about the Cubs than it does the Cardinals.
Justin Morneau of the
Twins has still not been cleared to play after sustaining a concussion last July;
the brain is a complicated machine. Remember this when drafting Josh Beckett
for your fantasy team.
Every time a new Dancing with the Stars cast is revealed I
proclaim it to be worse than the season before, and this season is no different………
yet I’ll probably still watch.
passed away last week. The HOF member played against the Cubs 287 times hitting
The Cubs are looking to hire a new public address announcer at
Wrigley Field. “Batting second …. Starlin Castro….. Number 13…… Castro” Sounds
good on paper, wish I had a voice to match.
If you get a chance, pick up Deadly Spin by Wendell Potter.
It’s a little dry, but it will help explain why shouts of “death panels” have
trumped actual facts in the health care debate.
not the start I wanted to see.
Did I mention I’m happy spring games have started?
Hathaway was fine, James Franco….ugh!
Bring back a professional next time please.
I pre-ordered Inside
Job last month, now I really can’t wait to see it.
Albert Pujols, age 30, has a ‘Wins
Above Replacement’ total of 83.8. Joe DiMaggio had a career total of 83.6. Mr.
Ricketts, ……… find $30M and sign this guy.
I’ve always had mixed feelings about Tony La Russa.
The guy has a winning record over 32 years as a manager and
he’s done it with three different teams, with a .500+ record at each stop. He
has won 5 pennants and 2 World Series Titles. He’s been very loyal to his
players (see Mark McGwire) and he’s been known as a brilliant thinker inside
On the other hand, he’s managed both the White Sox and the
Cardinals, which makes him a natural foe for any Cubs fan. He might as well set
up a revolving door on the pitchers mound the way he goes through relievers.
And don’t even get me started with the pitcher batting eighth strategy.
Those things are on the field. Off the field I have the same
Tony has been generous with both his time and name for
charity. He is particularly active in the field of animal rescue and I
encourage you to go to his website when you get a chance. Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation. My cousin works
with a pet rescue organization and my wife has taken our kids to volunteer at
an animal shelter, so I can really appreciate what he does with animals.
But unfortunately from where I stand, he also has done and
said things that I’m not a fan of. I
think his supportive stance on the ‘Show me your papers’ Arizona immigration law
is misguided. He is certainly free to express his opinion; I just believe that
he is wrong. In terms of politics, La
Russa has not been overtly active with his time, although he did attend and
participate in Glenn Beck’s Washington DC rally last August. The rally was not
political in nature, and Tony said he wouldn’t attend if it was, but it’s
fairly clear that Beck enjoys large support from the Tea Party and they made up
the vast majority of the crowd that day. I’m not a fan of Beck.
Which brings me to today when I read an article about La
Russa and his assertions that the Major League Players Association, the union,
was attempting to “beat up” Albert Pujols and his agent to sign a record
contract. He offered no evidence of his claim. But he used words like “arm-twisting”
and gave the general assertion that the union was more interested in what was
best for the union and not Albert Pujols. The union has said there is no truth
to such claims. You can read the full article with quotes here.
Now I don’t think players the caliber of Albert Pujols need
the union, but the players in general do need one. And whenever I hear a member
of management, like Tony La Russa, criticize the union; I always wonder what
the motivation is.
Is he against unions in general, like Glenn Beck?
Is he just trying to give his best player an out to sign
with St. Louis for less money?
Is he covering for Cardinals ownership because they haven’t
been able to sign Albert and he wants the fans to blame the union and not the
Only La Russa knows the answer. But I just can’t agree that
blaming a third party is the right thing to do.
Today one of the greatest players in the history of the game
will receive the highest honor that the President of the United States can
confer to a civilian of our country.
Stanley Frank Musial (Stan the Man) will receive the
Presidential Medal of Freedom award.
of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who
have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national
interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other
significant public or private endeavors.
a White House press release announcing the award.
Congrats to Stan the Man.
I’ve always felt that Musial is one of the ten best
players to play the game. And amazingly to me, I think he is one of the most
underappreciated players in the game.
Why? I don’t know. Is it because of the time period he
played in? Is it because he played in St. Louis, not New York, for his entire
career? Maybe it’s because he doesn’t do much TV. But for whatever reason, when
bar discussions take place and guys start throwing out the names of the
greatest players to play the game, Musial’s name takes a while before coming
You can find all of Musial’s stats here:
But I will point out a few that should be highlighted.
Stan won 3 MVP’s and finished second 4 other times.
Stan was a 24 time All-Star.
He is fourth all-time in hits (3630); he was second only
to Cobb when he retired.
He’s still 28th on the all-time home run list;
he was number 8 when he retired.
Stan is top 20 all-time in hits, RBI’s, doubles, triples,
total bases, base on balls, slugging %, and OPS.
If nothing else, I hope today’s award gives Musial some
long overdue acknowledgment. (Hopefully
I can post a picture of Stan receiving the award sometime later today)
Side note: The St. Louis Cardinals and Albert Pujols
agreed to extend the deadline to reach a contract agreement for 24 hours until
Weds out of respect for Musial receiving today’s award. If no contract is
signed, Pujols has said he will end all talks with the team so that his status
with the team is not a constant distraction. All that means to me is that
Albert doesn’t want to be answering questions about the contract. This issue is
not going away. There will be distractions. There won’t be a day all season that fans won’t be reminded
that Pujols is a free agent at the end of the year. Every time Albert drives in
a run or hits a bomb into Big Mac Land, fans and players will be reminded that
this guy is the best player in the game and nobody knows what team he will play
for in 2012.
Baseball players basically work as independent contractors.
Yes they belong to a union that controls the overall workplace structure and
rules, but after a fixed amount of well paid servitude to the ballclub at the beginning
of their career, players are free to seek what they think is the best offer.
And with the nature of the limited MLB free market system,
every contract is independent of all other contracts. Meaning; just because
Player “A” hit 28 homeruns and received a $10 million contract, it doesn’t mean
you will get $11+ million if you hit 30 homers. You’re only worth what someone
is willing to pay.
This brings us to Albert Pujols.
Yesterday Albert Pujols, through his agent, told the St. Louis Cardinals that he would only be willing
to negotiate an extension of his contract until the start of spring training,
after which point he will stop all talks and then test free agency after the
So what is Albert worth?
Well; if you did compare him to other players, not that many
compare, Pujols is at the top of the list. And so if he were to make more money
than anyone else next year, his contract would be 30+
Is Pujols worth that much? To St. Louis I would say yes. He
is the face of the Cardinals. He sells tickets and merchandise and parking
spots and food and drink. St Louis is a great baseball town and Cardinals fans
will still love their team, but I think not signing Albert would be costlier in
the long run than signing him would.
I think the Cardinals managing partner, William DeWitt, has
four weeks until he signs a 150+ million dollar contract with Pujols.