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As a Padres fan, stunned that not one made this list, given their historical offensive ineptitude last season. Gyrko? He had the worst VORP for a while. I guess his injury took him off the field, but still.
I would argue SD has not been jettisoning GM's at some strange clip. You had Towers booted after one of the longest tenures in baseball with a change in ownership. Hoyer seemed fine but then he jumped ship to join the Cubs, so they put in Byrnes who had a history with then owner Moorad. Moorad got shoved aside and new owners came in, so this is now "their" hire.
I would say there has been a lack of consistency in ownership which affected the GM's. But that seems settled for now. Good luck to Preller. This whole "we will compete by development" when that is what their richer competitors are doing as well is a tough task, with very little margin for error. Strike that: no margin for error or bad luck.
I am a Padres fan living in Bay Area. Those guys are OK but I guess it is the way broadcasters are supposed to be, but I find them pretty biased in their announcing.
Ball is called a strike, Giants pitching: taking what the ump is giving him, or painting the corner, or a pitchers' strike, nice pitch, etc.
Ball is called a strike, Giants batting: not sure about this zone, that's really tough for so & so, taking the bat out of is hands, etc.
Kind of expect it when watching broadcasts but did not expect them to show up on this list.
But the Padres already have a bad, LH 1B. They don't need more.
Granted the following hitter made it moot, but the decision of the umpire on the fan interference is literally mind boggling. 1rst-3rd, two outs, a towering shot to deepest part of the park, the runner on first is running, is rounding second as the ball gets caught by the fan. The umpires correctly over-turned the HR call, but then the choices are ground rule double or triple? And, if a double, how many runners score?
They call it a double, rather dubious given the depth and uncertainty of carom off the wall, but it is a catcher running, so perhaps. But they put the runner at third. So, in his judgment, the runner would have only been able to get to 3B despite rounding 2B when the ball should have been hitting the wall. So in his mind, Pence would have fielded it so quickly and cleanly and with his weak arm somehow been able to hold the runner at 3B. I just don't get how you make a decision like that. Umps get calls wrong all the time but, typically, it is because they have to make a quick decision on a fast moving play. This was not that. He had literally several minutes to think about it and this is the best he can come up with? How is this possible?
And, then, you add in that it was the visiting team and home team fans that interfered with the ball, it seems as though you want to not create a crazy incentive to interfere with the ball.
He and the Padres got very unlucky, as far as I can tell. A few starters materially missing projections happens, but an entire infield?
That said, as the author points out, it is very hard to be the A's or Rays. Changing that slightly, it is very hard to build a sustained playoff contender in a small market. Going a bit further, it is very hard to be a sustained fan of most small market team, a fact that MLB and most of sabermetric sites I read continue to ignore.
I guess Oakland traded with a team too boring to waste any time writing about the trade from their perspective.
As a Padres fan, very sorry to see him go but the SDN-OAK trades recently (Ross for flotsam; Smith for Gregerson) have at least been even, and, with Ross, heavily one-sided. I hope this one does not even it out.
I have heard this advocated before, mainly by Joe Sheehan. I do not know the medical details to say whether or not in correct dosages they can be safely used. Even if they can, it seems a counter-intuitive path to go down if you are serious about testing. Presumably developing rigorous testing that can distinguish between allowed levels of certain substances and excessive, detrimental levels would be much harder than a test just looking for the presence of the substance. And it would also presumably seem much easier test to combat, arguing the presence that showed up was the product of legitimate use vs. illegitimate.
Also, given the potential health risks, why allow them in lower dosages? It is not a though the game, in aggregate, needs the athletes to be stronger. If there is a desired shift desired in the game, such as if baseball wants more offense, perhaps change the park dimensions or allow more powerful bats, etc. rather than let the players "safely juice".
That is all fine, but while this "wait and see" approach can be defended, it is an important issue in baseball that tends to get short shrift because, historically, it has been seen as "pro-owner/anti-player" to push for cleaning up baseball. The other issue is the effect of differences in spending capacity across baseball, ignored for the same reason.
True, we don't really know how well they work, but they seem to work for power. Bonds, McGuire, Sosa, Palmeiro, Caminiti, Rodriquez all had remarkable power surges, all were strongly implicated (or admitted the use) with PED.
I assume they work and create a strong incentives to take them. The fact that they are still being used, despite their side effects, says quite a bit. I am sympathetic to the pressures those create. Yes, it is disappointing when a player is caught but shrill condemnation seems myopic. Would the condemner make a different choice given similar trade offs? I bet a lot of these people are aggressive on their tax returns but don't judge themselves so harshly.
The comparison to LASIK is not fair. Things that enhance performance but do not have detrimental side effects seem reasonable for players. PED's do not fall into that category. Eating well, having a strict exercise regimen and studying video probably also enhance performance but no one is arguing against prohibiting those.
The best response seems to be to adopt an extremely stringent testing regimen. You can argue about the severity of penalties, but rigorous testing will improve incentives to be clean. And as the use base shrinks, the users will be more isolated, further diminishing the incentives.
And please start analyzing the effects of spending on baseball. I feel many articles get into microscopic minutia of baseball (e.g. should the manager bunt with no outs on the road before the 8th inning in close game at night?) while ignoring a factor that has a huge impact on which teams are perennial playoff contenders.
This has not been updated for the games of 7/19 at 7:23p (EDT) on 7/20.
I hate baseball economics.
Hmmm, confused. I was saying keep O'Day and no Holland, but, after making the bad decision to go with Holland, and having the bases loaded with 2 outs and a choice between a guy who just pitched 8 straight balls and a very good reliever (Perez), Washington chose the first choice, which, to me, is indefensible.
I agree the difference between two run deficit and three run deficit is huge, and the given the run probabilities you were not going to get a higher leverage moment in the game.
You were pretty generous to Washington. Being a Padres fan, I don't follow Texas much, but:
-O'Day looked good. The hit by Posey was a weak one, following two K's. Schierholtz has a sub-700 OPS this season with modest reverse splits, though much fewer PA's against LHP. Not a Ryan Howard. I would have kept O'Day.
-After walks two guys on 8 pitches to load the bases with two outs, you put in your best pitcher, which is apparently Perez. He is saving him for the save that he made sure was not going to happen? Holland is young with, oddly, much worse ERA on the road than home (given his home park).
Wilson probably mows them down in the 9th to preserve the 2-0 win, so maybe the outcome is unaffected, but it astounds me that managers will hold onto provably poor "rules" and hold onto sweet jobs. Dumb decisions are made in other lines of work, and not broadcast on TV, but still amazes me.
As an aside, I would be interested to see the home field affects on young players. I saw some odd reverse home/away splits (e.g. much higher in the run-killing Petco) on several young Padres hitters this year, and wondered if this is a quirk of sample size or something more persistent.
I disagree. Being a Padres fan, I have looked at spending and payroll pretty deeply. One of my most striking findings, to me, was that when I did a comparison of "market value" (basically DMA population x HH income) to payroll spending, I found a .90 correlation:
This says to me that the markets are all investing in payrolls, as a function of the market size, very similarly. Either the owners are colluding (quite possible) or that each franchise is responding to their choice set in efficient ways. If it was inefficient, I would expect to see a lot less correlation (some spending high, some spending low).
As follow on, not sure why no one likes the idea of: throw all baseball revenue into a pot (would need auditing, etc), argue with MLBPA about what % goes to owners and what % goes to the owners. Once that is settled, the amount of that goes to players is the split evenly over all 30 teams and MLB uses revenue sharing to allow all the franchises to afford it.
Tweaks are needed:
1. keep incentives for each franchise to win/be more profitable (so keep some portion of "controllable" revenue going to each franchise)
2. some sort of balancing between big/small market owners because the small market teams gain, so big market owners deserve some sort of compensation; but, this is an area where I would let the rich dudes sort it out
3. some flexibility/accountability that the money allocated to players actually gets spent on players. can see a year when a team does not want to spend more, so the "unspent payroll" can go into a quasi-escrow, and they either spend it in later years or have to give to MLBPA.
My quick reaction is, "yeah, you're right." You have Lincecum and the Padres don't have anyone near that, and then Sanchez/Cain/Zito (though still not sold on Zito's full recovery). But then I did this pull:
This is road numbers for the two teams. I took road because to compensate for Petco, which actually favors SFN because 4 of those road games are in Petco.
You are right, but thus far, SDG has been pitching extremely well, not just an artifact of Petco or incredibly lucky BABIP (outside Garland).
IP H R HR BB SO K/9 WHIP ERA
SDG 162.1 135 57 17 55 131 7.26 1.17 3.16
SFN 142.1 122 56 15 54 126 7.97 1.24 3.54
As a Padres fan I am enjoying the ride, but waiting for it to end. I did not think they deserved their universal basement prediction, but I did not think they would contend for the title.
While a close series, the Dodger sweep highlighted how much better their offense is while matching up fine on the pitching end. So they will have a tough time beating LA. And Colorado.
The SF domination is flukey, but I do feel at this point SD and SF are nearly identical teams, though SD plays better defense.
The only hope for winning is if the young outfielders start hitting better (Hairston has been fine, but out; Blanks may need to be sent down; Venable is solid in his platoon but needs to mash better; Gwynn has been awful) and Cabrera improves what we get out of SS. And everything that is going right stays right. Hmmmm. I can hope.
The guy was running around on a prank. Yes, against the rules, but seems like a cost of doing business when you invite 50k people to your sanctified "private property". Please stop using the analogy of breaking into your home.
You stop, corral him, kick him out, press charges that are hard to defeat (hard to argue against the charges when you are on video running onto the field). Seems like enough punishment. But a potentially fatal use of force? Frightening, to me, that people adamantly support this.
This says 180-277 people have died since mid 2000s after they were tasered. Not necessarily caused by Tasers, but died in conjunction with their use.
As a Padres fan, BP's adjusted standings seemed to get a big boost from the 17-2 shellacking. Can anyone recommend the impact of blow outs on Pythagorean type of record projections? Intuitively one wants to toss them, or truncate them, but I do wonder how much information blow outs convey, if any?
As a Padres fan, that one made me laugh, in a sad way.
As a Pads fan, Giles was solid. The Padres probably get two more playoff appearances out of their 2004-07 run of respectability if they kept Bay and Perez, but it was logical trade by Towers and Giles hit well, and played surprisingly good D.
I held a grudge against Arizona because Elmer Dessens broke Bay's wrist on Bay's third day up with Padres in 2003. In two games his line was 250/450/750. Yes, small sample, except he proceeded to hit 291/423/506 that season in Pitt after the trade and 282/358/550 the next. So, if Dessens does not hit Bay and he produces like he does, the trade never happens, the Padres get better and cheaper production out of Bay (with Perez's monster year in 2004 thrown in) so they win the West in 2004 and get one more win in 2007, thus two extra post seasons. Or so my grudge tells me.
Thanks. A very minor point, but you showed Gregerson and not Adams. Probably interchangeable, but Adams' numbers are absolutely sick. But he seems to miss time. I guess he would be a red, but curious about your view of him staying healthy.
Thanks for the link to Forbes. Team economics is (purposely) opaque, so some light is interesting and welcome. I found it interesting that Forbes estimated that both BOS and NYA operated in a deficit. I could see how that would be both rational and accurate but it also me wonder about revenues from RSN, since both BOS and NYA have strong ones.
Padres unite! I hope you are right that DePodesta was involved, because KT did seem amazing at finding those arms. Sludge merchant: I think that was a self-description at one point.
Regarding Balsley, anyone ever see a "pitching coach lift" analysis, kind of like the ones that see if catchers improve pitcher performance (usually not)? Duncan in STL has the reputation, and I always hoped that Perez would completely flame out and SDP pick him up on a minor league deal only to get him back to prior glory.
Just figured it out myself. The VORP they show is not allocated. Jerry Hairston's 15.4 VORP shows up everywhere he is, not allocated by playing time. To get total VORP, I have to get a unique list of players and add that up.
Confused. This is supposedly a projection for 2010? They picked Colorado to win the NL West, so I did a simple analysis comparing the PECOTA of the two teams (vs. my Padres) by position, expecting to see COL with sizeable gains in various places.
Below shows the PECOTA of the two teams, off + pit = tot
Total SDG PECOTA: 360.6 + 225.4 = 586.0
Total COL PECOTA: 274.8 + 227.1 = 501.9
So SDG has higher projections but a much worse W/L? I don't expect perfect correlations, but this does not make sense. Any help on this?
Not surprising to see Bochy's handiwork up there. As a Pads fan, I recall often the best line up was also the older line up, so it generally worked well.
But then Phil Nevin fell off a cliff going from decent hitter to sub 700 OPS, but, he still got start after start. Xavier Nady, who at that point had an 800+ OPS, could not buy a start. At one point he even ran out the back up catcher into right field over Nady.
Curious of your thoughts on Everth Cabrera of the Padres. He only had 377 AB's, so makes sense he would not be on the list, but his his road OPS was 750, not bad. I look at road OPS as a quick and dirty ballpark neutral metric. Any SD player cannot be judged by overall OPS because their home OPS gets crushed when, overall, most players get a 30 point bump in OPS at home.
Zumsted's plan is logical: basically use a proxy for market value and distribute revenues based on that proxy. If you perform the proxy value, you win. If you underperform you lose.
A few revision/concerns: there are significant income level differences across markets, not just market size. So that would have to be adjusted but not that hard, but they could be material (disposable income per capita in NY >> KC);
Also the variance in market revenue is not always skill in the ownership.
But, the main advantage of this plan seems to be avoiding revenue hiding. But, I would think that the bulk of revenue comes from media rights/advertising, merchandising and ticket sales, pretty transparent items. I doubt parking shell companies are going to be that big of a driver of revenue, an example used by Derek.
So, if the revenues are reasonably transparent and can be verified, why not revenue-based sharing? MLBPA and MLB duke it out for the % of revenue to be spent on salaries, that creates the pie size. Then divide it by 30, and then you have salary cap per team. You have revenue sharing to allow the smaller market teams to afford it.
You have some adjustors for if a team does not want to spend in a given year (they can accrue the funds for a few years but then lose it and have to pay money to a MLBPA pension or something).
This does transfer value from big markets to small, but I am guessing owners can figure out compensation for that. But I don't really care about rich owners doing better or worse. I care about even payroll resources.
So, my concern is the Zumsted plan, while thereotically elegant, is more complicated than a simpler, arguably similarly fair system.
My guess about why this has not gone forward is that there are no monied constituencies who care that much.
MLBPA: doing great, thanks.
Big Market Owners: have competitive advantage, making big revenues, doing great, thanks.
Small Market Owners: doing less well, but they probably paid less for the teams, so probably making a decent return on their investment. challenge to field a competitive team on a consistent basis, yes, but, hey, do the best we can, make our return. doing great, thanks.
The only people screwed are fans of small market teams. But they don't have much money to sway the debate. So the owners and MLBPA will mull this, while a few small market owners who genuinely like to win may gripe, they are going to lose. The status quo serves those with the money, so nothing will change.
But, I wish there were some metrics on this, the real risk is that fan engagement will erode in small markets. These passions, often developed quite young, take time to erode, but they will if fans perceive that the system is unfair to their team and they don't have much to hope for on a consistent basis. Small markets can try to outsmart bigger ones, but they really don't have any competitive advantage to do so. Draft money favors the big, hiring smart baseball geeks is something anyone can do, so where does a sustainable competitiveness strategy come from for smaller markets? So, smaller market franchises will atrophy, and, once the support is gone, it will be hard to be replaced. It may take time, but the scale of the salary differences cannot be ignored by fans. And it disgusts them if you are on the losing end of it. At least it does me.
Is there a way to see this trended? I have seen random comments regarding the Padres from Will, or so I vaguely recollect, and they were complimentary, so seeing them at the bottom makes me wonder:
a) am I mis-remembering this and the Pads are actually bad
b) or is this pretty random
The Padres have been bottom feeding on pitching, and one fo the reasons pitchers are at the bottom is health issues (mark prior, shawn hill, etc). It would be great to see "expected" injuries vs. actual.
For some reason I cannot reply, but road OPS (more or less ballpark neutral) for Gonzalez and Pujols (2007, 2008, 2009):
Away 2007 2008 2009
Adrian: 928/ 946/1045
Adrian: 760/788/ 859
Home Field "Advantage"
Pujols: -211/ 119/ 016
So this year Adrian had a similar (but higher) road OPS than Adrian but Petco killed Adrian. If he got the park neutral OPS boost that teams see (in aggregate, home is 30 OPS points higher than road), his OPS would have been about 50 points below Pujols.
Both are Gold Glove defenders. Pujols runs much, much better than Adrian but that is not a big factor in assessing sluggers.
So, Pujols remains a cut above, in my view, but not head and shoulders the way people place him.
As a SD fan, all the talk of Adrian trades make me cringe. If not for Petco, people would be looking at him similar to Pujols. Their road OPS were comparable, but Petco absolutely crushed his home performance.
This is not a proposed trade but just saying "Gee, there is a great ballplayer on a small revenue team, I would like that morsel. They can't keep him, so why not here?"
Thanks for the call out on Adams (SD). I love that guy. But he was awesome last year as well, so the mirage has some staying power, though this year the numbers have been crazy.
2008: 65IP, 49H, 19BB, 74K, 1.04 WHIP, 2.48 ERA, 7HR
2009: 35IP, 14H, 8BB, 41K, 0.63 WHIP, 0.77 ERA, 1HR
WHIP and ERA are way down, but some of that may be BABIP variance. The BB/K ratios are comparable, what jumps out to me is the 1 HR in 35 IP. Yes, he pitches in Petco part of the time, but that is crazy.
Thanks for the call out on the Pads. It has been a very pleasant surprise, also against tough competition. Who knows which of these guys will stay useful, but you could have 5 pitcher rotation to choose from: Richards, Latos, Corriea, Stauffer, LeBlanc and Chris Young. Maybe Gallagher as well. No aces there, but potentially a lot of depth.
As a Padres fan, I have not done a lot of analysis on real vs. illusory gains, but they have steadily won games recently against almost all contending teams. Also, their 3rd order wins are right in line with their actual wins. If the draft were on third order wins, they would be ahead of the bottom 4 teams in the NL central and ahead of Washington, so 5 teams behind them while in the real standings they have 4 behind them.
I wish I had put money on the probability of Wade LeBlanc winning consecutive games @ LA and @ SF.
He has been below 90 for a long time and still amazingly effective. But he has to be an exception. He has a slow fastball (85-88), but has pinpoint accuracy. I have rarely ever seen him put it down the middle. It almost always exactly on the inside or outside paint. Players cannot drill it, have to respect it because it is a strike and then gets them out with the change up that, apparently, looks exactly like the fastball until it isn't. It is fast enough that the players cannot wait for the 72 mph change, because they will miss the fastball. I am guessing he drops 1-2 mph, and it will all fall apart.
That said, he has to be in the "exception" category. I am guessing if players can set up their pitches against each other so that it confuses hitters, and can do it consistently, then OK. But those must be the exception.
Makes sense, but curious if there is source or metric that relates payroll to expected probability of making the playoffs. For example, winning 70 games is probably a very low probability, while winning 90 games has a high probability. All this takes is computing wins to expected probability of making the playoffs, maybe by division (different for AL East vs. NL Central, for example).
I get that making the playoffs is more valuable to big markets vs. small, but curious to just the probability for making it.
Being a Padres fan, and not a fan of the extremity of Petco on depressing hitting, I tried to do an analysis on the park effects and HFA. After looking at the data I came up with the correlation between high HFA and park neutrality (the Rockies being the exception). The extreme pitching and hitter parks (again, Colorado was an outlier)dampened HFA, while the more neutral parks generally had higher HFA.
My analysis was a lot less rigorous and data fit reasonably well, but curious if your research showed anything along those lines.
My hypothesis is that the bias affects the hitters or pitchers in bad ways. In Petco, the Padres hitters may start getting in their heads to hit line drives and tempted to change their approach at home vs. the road. My guess is that is bad. Same for pitchers in hitter friendly parks.
As a fan of small market team, I disagree with Joe's assertion that the draft is just there to deprive the players of money. Maybe that is what the league wants, but the system is close to being a quasi-FA system. Since the only way small market teams can compete to to build the farm, not being able to acquire the best amateur talent is further tilting the field against them. I don't like owners, but I do want competitive balance.
As Goldman points out on his articles, there should not be a question whether the Nationals would select Strasburg. He is the best talent, they were the worst team. There is a tension between allowing a quasi-FA slot system (that is how the players would maximize their bonus) and a mechanism to allow weaker franchises access to top amateur talent. Joe seems to suggest the slotting system is just a cash grab and nothing to do with competitive balance. Perhaps, but until there is something in place that allows a more equitable playing field between the teams (e.g. revenue sharing), the draft is vital for smaller payroll teams.
It sounds like we are saying the same thing. I was thinking an interesting analysis would be to see scatter of VORP vs. salary for free agents, one for each year going back 10 years. My guess is that the correlation is starting to improve pretty strongly, suggesting the FA market is getting much more efficient.
Clearly the Pirates are rebuilding and I am sure their GM is doing it as thoughtfully as I could even after a long time to think about it.
I will concede that there is variation in management quality at all types of teams: big and small. The Pirates appear to be woefully managed for a long time.
My larger point is that we have basically two tiers of teams:
-Small market, who cannot afford to field a team where the bulk of the value comes from free agents/arbitration eligible.
-Large markets who can field teams with a blend of young, farm-bred talent and free agents.
Clearly the latter is a lot easier. Some teams will be do better than others in both tiers, but the structure between the tiers makes it a very uneven playing field.
I am a Padres fan and the collection of Tower, Alderson and DePodesta is about as good a team as one could hope. I am not saying they made perfect decisions, but, I think they made intelligently thought through choices. Some were good, some were bad. But they made those choices at a significant disadvantage to the larger teams.
The tone on BP seems to ignore this fact, or, to accept it as part of the game. That frustrates me.
I cannot judge the quality of traded players and leave it to the experts like Joe. That said, I do get a bit tired of the acceptance of "rebuilding". I can recall Joe admiring Beane when he traded Swisher because that was the right, tough call. Now heralding the Pirates "rebuilding". I am not saying that these GM's are doing the wrong thing given the environment, but it saddens me that the economics of baseball require teams to relinquish good talent because they cannot afford them while other teams can. There are rarely prolonged rebuilding campaigns in NY, BOS, LA, Chicago. OK, reality, but it is a sad reality, not a one that is one to be trumpeted.
And it is with almost equal glee that Joe will trumpet a major market team stepping up and signing a major player to big bucks. At least he trumpeted Texiera signing last winter. To me, it is sad that some teams can afford to spend like that while others get to take their shot and then rebuild.
When this issue comes up, people always seem to jump up and say "Yeah, but a cap/rev share deal will just make the owners richer at the players expense." I am thinking there are ways that does not have to be true (rev share is the more important piece, not caps), but the current climate is disheartening to me.
Well according to pitch-track, two of the balls were strikes, one marginal (but better than an earlier pitch that was a called strike) and one clearly in the zone.
I guess pitchers have to earn their place, but I hope we get to automated balls and strikes soon.
Any sense of the mix between attendance driven numbers and TV advertising revenues? The TV rights are probably multi-year deals so perhaps baseball did not get slammed in cash, but advertising rates on TV had collapsed, so that seems like a factor in franchise health as well.
Off topic, so please feel free to ignore, but wondering if you, or others, have written an analysis of the performance of drafting philosophies. Not to be overly obvious, but there is 2x2: college vs. high school; hitter vs. pitcher
The kind of stuff I am interested in:
I am guessing a lot has to do with specific talent (e.g. the Uptons would skew things towards high school hitters, but that may just be because of their prodigous talent, not so much a philosophy), but which category (e.g. college & hitter) is yielding the most in terms of MLB VORP? What are the trends we are seeing? Are teams following consistent biases/philosophies or moving all over the place? And, would love to see a summary, by franchise, showing VORP of their drafting going back 10-15 years (even if the player ends up on someone else's roster, the drafting franchise gets the credit).
Given I am a Padres fan, the future is all that is interesting now.
Just let it be the Pro-Bowl, and get rid of the home-field advantage thing, which is just lame. If you are the Mets, do you really want Johan going 8 innings in a game that has no impact on your chance to make the playoffs? I think that would create perverse incentives for the players and managers.
As someone else posted, I get to see plenty of AL and NL players already, and inter-league and WS gives me all the head to head I could need.
People can say back in the day the players cared more, but the game was a very different beast than it is today with all the money riding on getting teams to the post season.
Geoff had the first blog I ever followed: www.ducksnorts.com. That made the game much more meaningful to me, to have an intelligent place to follow my team, away from trying to get a tiny glimpse on SportsCenter, and listen to often inferior analysis than what was on Geoff's blog. And he has been at it awhile, and had the likes of Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta support the blog.
Geoff likes to dig into the numbers a bit, but my observation of his writing is a bit more like Sheehan: more commentary of trends and emotions of the game rather than deep crunching. I am a kind of crunching guy, so get the appeal, but there is a place for both and appreciate Geoff's style.
-Another vote for the salary cap/revenue sharing analysis.
-Another vote for the team fixes fot struggling franchises. But, for many of these teams, especially the smaller market ones, it may be simply "draft better".
-Related to that, it would be good to analysis on the affects of spending differences and odds of playoff participation. I have a strong bias on this, but let the data say what it will.
-Another vote for umpire analysis using the pitch tracking data. How consistent with the official zone are they? How internally consistent are the umpires (e.g. a ball out of zone but in a particular place they call a strike, how consistent are they?) If biases do emerge, what are they? Franchise? Relative status/tenure of the hitter vs. pitcher (e.g. Pujols vs. scrub, who gets the calls)? Home vs. away? Specific players (e.g. "blacklisted" players)?
I am not sure about the other people's "moralizing" but mine is built on the following assumptions:
-That the banned PED's are bad for players. There may be OK levels but easy to go up to "un-OK" levels, so enforcing the difference between the two is impossibleor extremely difficult, so we have to ban it altogether.
-That the PED's are indeed performance enhancing.
If those two things are true, the players are hurting the other players when they choose to use. Players already face the don't use, fall behind vs. use and get ahead/stay even choice, and that choice, for non-users, gets harder the more other players use. So, that has a negative, external effect on other players, and that it is unfair to the other players. So, to me, it is not a neutral thing.
I get that it is a very difficult choice, and that many of the observors who decry the moral damage would themselves make the same choice given the perceived incentives. But that just argues for more stringent testing. I have some sympathy for players facing the incentives and not sure what I would do if facing the same choices. But even if I would do the wrong thing, that still does not make it right.
I am not sure about the arbitrary nature of what drugs are on the PED list. If there are PED's on the list that are actually not harmful and ones that are harmful but not on the list, that does seem arbitrary, but still not justification for using one on the list.
People who cheer for Manny:
-Dodger fans, glad to have their guy back
-Fans who like Manny, feel like he went through the proper process, punishment done
-Fans who think the drug testing is working, that, if busted, should be welcome back because the punishment is enough
People who boo (tacky) or withhold applause:
-Fans who fear that PED's are still a big issue, and players getting caught is the canary in the coal mine; still going on; so, yes, there is punishment, but this system is still not fixed
-Fans who like the moral high road; you're busted, your a louse, deserve to be booed
-Do you cheer a stock broker who returns after doing some community service/light time after getting busted for insider-trading? Yes, did some punishment, but still a crappy thing to do that does reveal something about their character. Don't necessarily ostracize them or run out of town, but cheer? No.
I am in the latter camp. I would not boo but definitely not cheer, but this feels more a like sad chapter in baseball not a happy one. I hope we get enough testing that we stop the PED use. Maybe we are already there, but I am uneasy about it.
Adrian is a beast. My quickie analysis is that in general I look at road OPS as being reasonably "park neutral". Then I look at home/road OPS splits overall for all MLB (around 30 points, in aggregate, at home higher than road) and add that to the hitters road OPS.
So Adrian has a road OPS 1.067 (7th in the NL), so a "park neutral" adjustment would be 30 points, meaning if Petco was neutral he would bat near 1.097 at home, instead of his .930.
I know it is futile, but do hope the Padres can somehow lock him up. He grew up a Padres fan and the team is giving playing time to his brother, so maybe that can keep him a Padre a bit longer.
If he was on a team with more depth, so more pressure on the pitching, I think he would explode.
Also, how does VORP take park factors into effect? Apparently they do get factored in very much. And, generally, why is there such a gap between Pujols and Gonzalez on VORP when their OPS are very similar on the road and different overall but not as different than their VORP.
Road Calc Actual Total VORP
Pujols 1.104 1.134 1.287 1.197 55.5
Adrian 1.067 1.097 0.930 1.002 30.3
Road: Road OPS
Calc: Road OPS + .030 (my home adjustment)
Actual: Actual home OPS
Total: Actual total OPS
So Pujols has an 83% higher VORP, while their road OPS is only 3% apart and their total OPS only 20% apart. They play the same position. Pujols is much, much better on the bases, but I doubt that is a driver, and both are excellent defenders.
But the scale of those operations is dependent on their market size. No way KC or SEA can match the revenues, no matter the business initiative. NY is the country's biggest market, so they can have a bigger scale. But the driver is market size, not marketing initiative.
Regarding the incentives under revenue sharing, yes, you need to still have an incentive for franchises to increase their revenues. Probably each franchise would share some % and give some %. But the NFL shares most of its revenues, and the franchises are still out there marketing, so it can be done.
I should be doing my job, so did this analysis on the quick. I found someone had summarized team salaries for 2006-2008:
Using his table, I tallied up which ones of these teams mad the playoffs in those years. Granted this only three years, but trying to do this quickly.
If you are a top 10 salary team, probability of making the playoffs is 50%; if you are 11-30, probability is 15%.
There were six teams that made the playoffs twice during that period, all top 10 salary teams.
I also did it by deviations above and below the mean:
1+: 55% (three teams)
.5-1: 29% (five teams)
.25-.5: 25% (four teams)
-.25 to .25: 15% (four teams)
-.5 to -.25: 17% (three teams)
-.1 to -.50: 16% (eight teams)
-1 or lower: 12% (three teams)
My point is that if you are at the top, your odds of getting in the playoffs are a lot higher than if you are at the bottom.
To your point of comparing against other sports, I did look at the NFL and that gave me some pause. Over the same time period you see 9 teams not make playoffs despite there being a 40% chance of making it each year.
I can make arguments why the NFL would have some perennial bottom dwellers, but I will have to mull that more.
My point here is that the probability of making the playoffs does seem influenced by money.
Better than preaching to the choir. But I want to be clear: my goal is spending equality or near equality, not enriching owners. Those dudes (not sure if there are any women owners) are doing just fine. If we developed a sustainable, equitable system that bankrupted people who decided to be owners, fine. Just get me a sustainable, equitable system.
Regarding the cap hurting the smaller players or inhibiting how much players can make:
The cap may be a misnomer. The core of balance is really a re-distribution of baseball revenues. So what is capped in NY is made up for by increases in KC and other cities. Let's pretend the MLBPA could negotiate that 90% of baseball revenue be spent on salaries. Or some big number. Or some number that takes current spending trends and extrapolates them. My point is that I think you can find a number that is very fair, even generous, to the players. 98%? 99%? You pick the number. It has to be negotiated but I hope you see my point.
So once that % defines the size of the pie, it is not intuitive to me why the stars will take a bigger portion of the pie that younger, more marginal players than the current system yields.
Regarding transparency: I still think it is pretty transparent.
The way I was thinking of it is along the lines of:
-TV: I have done work in advertising research, and it is not that hard to figure out what ad slots on sports broadcasts are worth in various DMA's. You don't need to know the details of what the team actually received, but you can create a baseline of the value.
-Attendance. I believe the totals are well reported, though not the mix of seat values sold. But seems like a pretty straight-forward request and probably not that hard to get.
I am guessing those two income streams are the bulk of the revenue, though you would probably have to include merchandise.
If the owners will not provide this data in a way that can be verified, then, yes, it will not work. But both could be roughly estimated without owner input as a starting point.
Regarding the revenue sharing:
Well, the owners need to get a meeting of the minds, that yes, the Yankees ought to give money to KC so KC can better compete against them. There may have to be some reverse compensation for any windfall profits to owners of smaller franchises that are suddenly more valuable, but the owners can figure that out if they want to. Revenue sharing appears to be a core part of the NFL and that, on competitive balance and accountability to the decision-makers, works well. Yes the players get totally screwed, but I don't think revenue sharing and bad labor deals are linked.
Yes, NYY is giving up an advantage, but one could make the argument that baseball revenues will increase with increased engagement across the towns. Our mainstream media focuses its coverage on where the advertising dollars are, so you get lots of coverage of major market teams, so this can give the appearance that things are good. Maybe I am an exception, but I get really angry at this system that forces me, a Padres fan, to have to compete year in and out against the Dodgers and Giants who have much more resources. Yes, at times those resources by the larger teams were spent stupidly, but that cannot be the backbone of competitive balance: hoping for stupidity from the rich teams and smartness from the poor. Look at Boston where riches and smartness meet. That, eventually, will be the model, leading to even more stratification of success. I think the SD front office is about as good as it gets, yet, people glibly point out "they need to rebuild for 2011 or 2012", which is my assessment as well. Gee, so I get to watch 2-3-4 years of crappy baseball while major market have the resources to retool just about every year. That is healthy for the game? Don't be born in a minor market or develop an allegiance to one, or, if you do, accept the inequalities of the game? Get over it? Sorry, but that sucks. And pisses me off, if you cannot tell.
If I were an owner of a small market team, I would band together the bottom 20 teams, and form our own league. Let the top 10 teams keep playing each other, over and over and over. I think the major market teams free ride of the externalities of having varied competition to play, weaker ones at that.
There has to be a owner/player neutral way to solve it and it really annoys me that BP does not even try. Joe might point to Derek Zumstag (sp?) analysis from like 5 years ago (which I have read several times, and is far from definitive though intelligent, novel and interesting) as "that is our work, done" but seems disengenious to me. This is a problem that needs to fixed and needs smart, analytical minds to promote the case that it should be fixed and how. I personally care much more about that the analysis of the 4th round of the draft or details about trades of minor leaguers (though I still love that stuff, too).
In summary, it sounds like eveyone is saying Fehr did his job, representing the players.
The people who like Fehr generally like the impact his representing the players (higher % of industry revenue to players), and don't think it was his place to lead the players towards more stringent testing, but his role to understand their position, and represent it. And a sub-group, perhaps the majority, don't think the PED's are that big of deal (vague/small impact and/or not that unhealthy).
The people who dislike Fehr's impact generally don't have any love of owners, but dislike the spending discrepancies across teams and dislike/hate the impact, real or perceived, of PED's on the game, and feel as though Fehr should have done more on both of these topics, leading the union to those positions rather than following them once they got there.
I am in the latter camp, but respect the guy for doing his job well.
There has been a lot on PED's on Will Carroll's unfiltered last week, so would like to comment on salaries, and this is probably an inappopriate and ineffective (tale end of a thread seeming to be dying out) way to do it, but...
Why not a salary cap? You make it as a % of baseball revenues. Let the players and owners go to the mats over the right percentage, but let that be the number we focus on. Baseball revenues seem pretty transparent: TV revenues (based on size of market), ticket sales, merchandise, etc. You want to create some incentives for franchise to perform, but size of the labor pie is determined, split evenly over the teams, and let the owners haggle out the revenue sharing and other intra-team compensation to make it affordable for all the teams.
It is arguably a win-win in that hopefully industry revenue will increase with increased competitiveness (or, at least eliminating the salary discrepancies as a factor).
For whatever it is worth, a little more civility and thoughtfulness?
Please read someone's post carefully and try to respond to what they said.
If someone either does not respond carefully to your post or is posting something you disagree with, avoid attacks. A little patience with each other.
We all love the game, but clearly feel passionately about the subject.
While I disagree with BP's treatment of certain topics (PED's, impact of salary discrepancies between teams) it has been a place to forward the thinking on baseball. Let us not debase it.
Of absolute zero value, but everyone on the this comparable list once wore a Padres or AAA Beaver (Padres) uniform.
This assumes that taking PED's are not materially bad for you. I have heard this stated (by Sheehan, saying with proper supervision it is OK; by posters, comparing them to vitamins), but not seen any evidence for this. If it is true, yes, than taking PED, at those levels is fine, because it does not hurt the taker and everyone should be free to take them. If it does hurt players' LT health, than PED's are not like eye laser surgery. Lasik doesn't hurt the recipient.
I would welcome someone medically informed to comment on this. Will Carroll?
My hatred of PED's is based on the fact that I believe (not sure if I am right) that they are very bad the for the players, forcing them to make this "win and hurt my body" or "stay clean and lose competitive advantage" choice. And the externalities of this are, if you choose the former, you are creating more pressure on your peers to do the same choice, thus the moral angle.
A lot of posters on this site claim I have "outrage" because I dislike the effect of PED's on the sport. If PED's are harmful, I do have outrage, not so much on the people who succumbed to the incentives, but to those who argue against more invasive testing. Get world-class testing in place (at least to the Olympic levels) and then I will feel comfortable "turning the page". Until then I feel the unfair incentives still exist, and that feels very unfair to players and bad for the game.
I agree that the incentives present make using incredibly hard to pass up. And, given that, I feel that the huffy moralizing on individual players is unfair. I am sure if many of the commentators were given similar risk/return, they would have done it to.
But, it is still a choice that has external, negative effects on other players. So it is unfair to them, so I consider it wrong. People do bad things when the incentives are strong enough, but it is still wrong.
This all said, my preferred response, to "put this all behind us" is to implement a very, very stringent drug testing regimen. If that was in place, I would be able to "turn the page". Until then, I don't think it is fair to ask fans to turn the page and without addressing the fundamental problem: without very stringent testing, people will cheat. Some will cheat even with the testing, but fewer will do so.
I should qualify. Gerut's road OPS was the best in MLB for a CF. Inadvertent exlusion.
As a Padres fan, hate, hate, hate this trade. Looks cynical. Gerut had a road OPS of 909 last year (152 AB), 845 overall. That road OPS (less affected by park effects) was the best in MLB. Maybe a fluke, but the guy has potential. He is making $1.75m this season. That is a bargain. And you trade that away for a name.
Sorry this looks like an attempt at "hey, don't look at us gutting this club...look, over there, it's a Gwynn!!! Yea!!! Smiles everyone."
Can't see any other explanation and I want to vomit.
As a Padres fan, this is a depressing reminder of the importance of team spending power differentials.
Gwynn and Peavy have been the two drafted and developed talents to have a material impact on the team. Horrible to see Jake go. Knowing it is inevitable does not make it any better.
Got it. I thought you were saying placebo effect in that they did not really do much. Placebos, strictly speaking, have no effect whatsoever. Sugar pills, etc.
You are saying they do work as advertised, so not a placebo in that sense, but the physical changes they ellicit do not necessarily improve performance.
That may be true but is not obviously true. I can envision athletes testing the drugs and seeing if they indeed improve performance. Maybe the mind bends and they think they see performance improved performance when there is none, but I would argue the case that they take the drugs, the body reacts, performance improves to some degree, and they then keep going, and testing. This seems plausible.
Your argument is that they take them, body changes, but performance does not change or is hard to assess, and they keep taking them just in case, or move on to a new drug seeking results, etc. Possible, and I cannot say "no way", but I think my version makes more sense, but don't necessarily expect others to agree.
An analysis that I would welcome builds on Silver's thinking. Perhaps you could isolate the "walk year" boost for each year going back 20 years, if there is such a boost. So, see if there is walk year boost and, if so, did that boost increase during the "PED" era and start to decline during increased testing.
I am guessing it will be noisy and bounce all over the place, but that would still be a worthwhile analysis.
I don't want to get in a pissing match here, and I am sure there are some placebo effects in that players fear that they are at a disadvantage so take them even if they are not sure they work or not. I am positive that accounts for some of the use. Point taken.
But you are blending drugs that are known to work, like Cialis, that have consequences. So the user is trading known benefits vs. uncertain but tangible risks. I was thinking more of the takers of the penis enlargement, which you stated, where nothing is known to work, but I don't think the pills offered are a health risk.
And you see drug use in other sports with much more stringent testing, like cycling and the Olympics, so have a hard time believing the use is so wide spread simply because they believe it has value but does not actually. Given the level of preparation and effort and care they expend to compete, to potentially toss it away on something that they are not pretty sure has benefit strikes me as extreme behavior.
I don't know as much about diet pills, but so do not know whether the ones you cite were useful or not. But I would still argue that the downside is greater for athletes than regular consumers.
But taking a diet pill and penis enlargement generally don't have either clear, negative health consequences or the risk of losing a significant amount of money.
Ball players making this choice are taking on clear risks, especially now with better testing.
All that for placebo?
Not trying to push self-promotion, and Nate Silver is a lot smarter than I am, but even casual analysis can reveal things. Bonds:
Huge uptick in HR rate late in his career, off the charts compared to other 500+ HR hitters.
Given that they seem to work (again, why do athletes keep taking them) and the economic incentives to take them, you have horrible incentives for a clean game. So, you have to regulate the heck out of it if you want it clean.
As BrewersTT wrote, I am deeply disappointed with BP's approach to this. As far as I can tell, it seems something like:
Testing started as a player vs. owner thing
MLBPA was anti-testing, and has resisted more invasive testing
BP has a strong (understandably) affinity for players vs. rich owners
So the whole PED thing, as the data bled out, makes the MLBPA and players look worse relative to the owners, so they don't like talking about it.
I have seen a similar bias in discussing the impact of payroll discrepancies on team performance.
I guess comparing the votes that Manny gets vs. what we could expect had he missed 50 or so games from injury would be a useful comparison, though not sure how many data points on that.
I hate the whole PED issue, and favor implementing the most stringent, useful (hopefully those are correlated) testing. Given the potential, real or perceived, gains in taking PED's, really thorough testing is needed. If you don't it places players with unconscionable decisions: cheat and maybe make marginal millions or stay clean but probably earn less. I would not want that choice.
Further, I am deeply suspicious of the argument that PED's have minor impact. Look at Bond's HR's:
Also, why would players keep taking them if they did not have a significant impact?
I am sorry for the players, Manny included, who have to make this choice. MLB and the MLBPA need to clean this up. Not a bargaining chip, but clean it up. No moral posturing, just clean it up.
This is a useful metric for efficiency. I think a more useful metric is how is the team efficient. What are the tiers of players salary? I think: fully controlled (they get the minimum), arbitration eligible and FA.
The first two are a function of drafting and trades, while the latter is FA selection. The reason I would like to see it separated is that the marginal value per win implies you can go buy that win if you wanted to. Well, if the $ in the marginal win are not available because the players are controlled by the teams, you cannot access that talent.
So really need to see the marginal value of FA VORP. That, theoretically, is the talent you can go buy. The other stuff you have to draft and hope it pans out.
And previous posters comments that the value of marginal wins when you have a chance to get to the playoffs are >> greater than generic marginal wins. The Yankees spending probably makes more sense. They are not trying to win marginal games, but trying to consistently win 90+ games. How much do you need to have a high probability of that? Apparently a lot.
I love Rany\'s analysis. My guess about the availability of FA\'s is either a) collusion; or b) owners are genuinely scared of seeing the revenue base drop 20-40% over the next few years.
Regarding collusion, I am a small market team guy, so don\'t normally get all effusive about the ability of top guys going to play for top 10 DMA teams; but, if teams are colluding, it is illegal.
I think the latter has a lot to do with it. It is like the bankers, still cannot believe their massive bonuses are a thing of the past for awhile. The players and agents may have a hard time believing the revenues are going to slow down. I have no idea if baseball teams sandbag and can actually afford a lot more, but I doubt there is a lot of cushion in the lower 15 DMA teams, even with revenue sharing.
I just have to agree with bccurls (posted above). I knew the jist of this before I read it. I don\'t watch the \"mainstream\" sports shows so I cannot comment on what they are saying. But, based on the comments, I can guess.
PEDs are horrible problem in all competitive sports, and need an extremely rigorous, and, if needbe,invasive, response.
PED\'s work, or they would not take them. Not just baseball but all competitive sports.
Without rigorous testing, players/athletes face a horrible dilemma: pass on marginal gains that could be gained by taking PEDs or take PEDs and gain some uncertain but potentially large amount. Imagine the difference between being a minor-leaguer and major leaguer. Or the difference between slightly above replacement level to substantially above. These are life-changing economic differences.
And network effects make it worse: if you think everyone else is staying clean, incentives for staying clean improve. If you think everyone else is cheating, incentives for cheating improve.
The only way to combat this is to have incredibly invasive procedures. I have heard that requiring blood tests is too much inconvenience or invasion of privacy. Why? What about the Olympics freezing urine and blood samples for future testing with penalties assessed if they are able to find currently illegal substances with improved testing processes. Sounds good to me.
I have not tracked the details, but my perception is that MLBPA has been pretty resistent to drug testing, at one point arguing it like a negotiating chip. BP has generally voiced concerns over privacy in drug tests. That position seems unconscionable to me. The only way to break the dilemma for players is impose the most effective drug testing possible. It won\'t cure all, but it will certainly help.
Do you know of any data-driven assessments of franchise drafting? Something like the current VORP of each draftee going back 10-15 years. Also, I wonder the distribution of VORP by draft round, by year. Is the first round consistently dominant or does one see variation, enough hidden gems to make it much more of a crapshoot (or incompletely analyzed process)? I did a clumsy assessment, looking at the top VORP producers last year to see which round they were drafted in and the first round, not surprisingly, was the typical answer.
If the developing good talent before they hit FA is the antidote to the venom of payroll imbalance, ought there not be some advantage bestowed to smaller payroll teams? Yes, there is the draft order, but teams, draftees and agents have noticed that the draft is really important, so the signing bonuses have become an issue for small market teams. The slot system has become a joke, where it is almost a FA like system, so big market teams can take bigger risks on the drafting as well.
And, people love to cite how Yankees develop talent, they deserve credit. But, when they have that good talent, they can easily afford to sign them when they hit FA. The Padres developed Peavy, signed him to a reasonable contract, but now can barely afford him but probably cannot so will have to trade a Cy Young pitcher for economic reasons. How often does NY or any major market team face that choice? Never.
Yes, correlation does not necessarily mean causation, but I think a strong case that team payroll does influece team payroll. We are not talking about team mascots to team performance.
The data says that 55% of the variation in franchise performance can be explained by the variation in team payroll, given the way I transformed the data. .55 r-squared is pretty strong, but not overwhelming. Clearly other factors influence winning, including chance. But over half comes from payroll. BTW, I did not cherry-pick this and try a bunch of ways and just show the highest.
Your concerns about details impacting the data set seem rather subjective. It is like someone showing a correlation between quality of universities to starting salaries and then saying \"Yeah, but Harvard had a really good career guidance counselor for awhile, so that probably explains a bunch of the correlation.\" It might be true, but I challenge you to show the data to support it.
I think you would have to show a systematic bias in the data to say that the conclusions are inaccurate.
The author seems to set the cap and then postulate that certain teams could not meet it. The other piece is the revenue sharing. The other teams in the league would have to finance the spending. That is the whole idea. Rich subsidize the poor to create an even playing field. Or at least more even than we have now.
People might say this is not fair or is socialism. Look, NY gets a huge windfall by being in NY and not allowing other franchises to come in. That oligopoly in NY (Mets, NYY) is protected. Nothing free-market about that.
Also, the rich teams get a lot of value from having poor teams: they need someone to play aside from just big market cities. Under the current system, they get all the benefit of having the poor vistors show up so they have some entertainment and get all the spending power they were granted by their market size.
Also, I disagree that sharing local revenues is some disaster. Yes, you need to have incentives for teams to improve their performance and profitability, but the fact that they will not capture 100% of those gains does not mean that they will not do them. I get taxed by the US government but it does not stop me from working, or trying to increase my salary.
My guess is that BP, who hates anything that tinkers with the current system because it is strongly pro-player and anti-owner (nothing wrong with that in itself), has had this put up to counter the uproar from the Texeira signing.
The current system is broken and will just continue to get worse. At some point, engagement from fans perennial uncompetitive teams, or compettive for brief period periods, with many years of uncompetitive \"re-building\", are going to lose interest. Many already have. It will not take its toll immediately, but it will continue to undermine the game.
Both players and owners should focus on increasing baseball revenues from a more balanced league and sharing those gains.
My analysis below. The highest r-squared I got was .55. It does not explain all the performance, but if it is indeed half, then all the other smarts, dumbs, drafting choices, luck, injuries, etc all explain only half of the performance and where a franchise happens to be from explains the other half. Hardly fair. But neither the owners nor the players really care. The players want their money and the owners want their money and both are making it under the current systemm, though one side will make more of it than another but both make it, so little will change. Which is why I may have to stop following.
I know this is not the meat of the thread, but I am extremely discouraged by the disparity in salaries across the franchises. Pointing out illegal collusion is fine, but that still does not leave us with a vibrant system. I am not some owner-lover, and am not looking for deals that will hurt players for owner benefit, but I would welcome the smart minds of BP to start writing about a system that would allow access to the same or at least similar resources across the franchises.
I have heard reference to some writing about it a few years ago, but clearly this is not a front and center topic when I think it should be.
My quick thought would be % of baseball revenues creates the pot for players, allocated to franchises more or less equally (some adjustment for performance/good mgmt incentives). If a team does not spend their allocation, it goes into trust for future salaries or, after some period, paid into player pensions or something.
I would especially welcome the perspective from fans of smaller value metro-regions who think the system is working.
I have read enough of large market fans saying how well it works and is the free-market and all. MLB is no free market. The wealthy franchises were bestowed their market power (some have improved it or hurt more than others) not earned it and it remains protected.
Too much of the variation in performance is explained by variation in the economic value of the franchises\' metropolitan region. Not all of it, but my analysis suggests 40-50%, which is way too much if you are not on the good end of that market value spectrum.
If your response is \"sucks to be you; live with it...\" consider if the bottom 20 teams broke off to form their own league while the upper 10 had their own. Not so much fun suddenly. You need all 30 teams for an interest league; you need the fans for all 30 to be a similar chance, controlling for management quality (which would improve with better balance).
This issue is not about the Yankees particular management or spending: it is small market vs. big market.
Small market teams are at a material disadvantage to major market teams. Looking at win percentage and playoff participation bear that out. If salary was not a major factor, how come no major market team economizes on salary? There is always a marginal, expected impact. Or they would not spend it.
It has been awhile since reading Woolner, but it does seem like a cap is required that is linked to a fixed % of baseball revenues. Each team is required to spend that amount in salaries. If salaries are under the cap, they remainder has to be put in trust for future salaries, not to the team coffers. The teams have to share revenue to make the system work. You would have to leave some profit incentive for effective marketing and team management, but it could not have a material impact on salary bases across teams.
I doubt any defender of the current system is a fan of a small market team. To argue that the current system is fair is denial of the obvious.
With balanced payroll, some teams will succeed and others flail but that will be much more a product of the team management rather than underlying economics. Teams that flail under the new system should replace their management; they have no one else to complain. Actually, salary discrepancy insulates management. Top market teams can stay reasonably competitive even with making bad baseball decisions. Bad decisions by small market teams can be blamed on the inherent unfairness of the system.
Look at the NFL. There are successful franchises and unsuccessful, but that success can be easily attributed to the player drafting skill and coaching quality. Salary is just not a factor. Spending salary poorly is, but there is no inherent factor inhibiting one franchise from emulating another.
People who argue about the free-market system miss the point. The franchises are awarded markets and they are protected. They did not compete to gain access to those markets nor do they compete to maintain access to those markets. So, this is like a lottery not a free-market. Major market teams may vary in how they manage the windfall of their market\'s economic power, but that windfall was bestowed, not earned.
The Yankees may have made more of their position relative to other major market teams, say the Dodgers, but that does not change the inherent disadvantage of small vs. large. Does someone honestly believe if Steinbrenner owned the Kansas City Royals he would have the same impact on the industry and same spending capacity than if he happened to own a team in the most valuable market in the country? The Royals might be better, but is laughable to envision them as the \"global brand\" that people cite as evidence of Steinbrenner\'s acumen.
The payroll system is completely broken and it will rot out the core of baseball, slowly creating apathy at the extremities (small market teams) until it enters the major market teams as well. Fantasy sports and better analysis have improved engagement, but that cannot overcome over half the teams don\'t have a chance in a given year.
It is disappointing that the BP staff likes to ignore this fact, and, in the case of this article, trumpet an artifact of the imbalances. This seems to be because the BP staff intensely dislikes baseball owners, strongly favors the players\' rights, bristle at anything that might undermine player salaries. It is unfortunate that the owners are led by the ineffective and lethally unimaginative Selig. But, at the end of the day, this is not about labor vs. owners. This is about fairness to fans. Given that the MLB anti-trust exemption is bestowed by the government, I would argue there is a case for governmental intervention to enforce a system that creates salary balance.
This sport cannot thrive as it is. Even if you are lucky enough to have been born into a major market area, the vibrancy of competitiveness suffers and that pulls down the sport. With increasing outlets for entertainment, baseball cannot continue down this path.
For people bashing the Padres brass, I am not saying they are flawless. The did win the West twice while spending less than the Dodgers. But, the management takes its bets on draft picks, trades, FA, etc. Some will work, others will not. The better the management, the more often it will work. But, big market teams get the added benefit of filling in the gaps with FA or, taking good players in lopsided trades because the other side is doing a salary dump. In addition, they can afford to pay draftees top dollar to sign them, an agonizing choice for smaller market teams.
In any individual season, chance, injuries, player variation, etc. all play a huge factor. And some big market teams are managed much worse than some smaller teams. But if you combine smarts and money, look at Boston. Theo Epstein (former Padres asst. GM) and that crew have combined the two, and while Boston does not win every year, they are in the hunt every year.
The only way small market teams can compete is to invest heavily in the drafts, get a quality team that is under the FA age, and add some talent from the market or trades. That was how Arizona has been competing and now Tampa Bay. The trick is, this is what everyone is trying to do, so doing it better than everyone else is extremely hard. So, if you are rich team, and you have some holes from your farm, go and buy some replacements. If you are a poor team, tough luck, and re-start the re-building.
Sorry, Juiced has it nailed. As a Padres fan, with many of the smart guys from Money Ball, we really have to pick and choose our shots in a way a major franchise does not worry about. They get to make baseball decisions, and can absorb the financial impact. Smaller teams have to make baseball decisions constrained by finances. The Padres just dumped Greene for some middle-relief sop, strictly to avoid $6m. They have no in-system back up, and will probably do their best with a replacement level replacement. Funny, I rarely read about major market teams having to make such moves.
This system is broken and salary caps are not the solution. But people who claim this is a free market are way off. Baseball has an anti-trust agreement allowing it to explicitly not compete and that non-competition greatly favors big market teams. I go back and forth on trades with a Mets fan, but he stops chatting when he has to acknowledge that all his team has to do is try to make his team better while my team has to try to make its team better and manage its finances.
Is it coincidence that all the major FA\'s end up at major market teams? Of course not, and this is an unfair system.