04 February 2011

Vladimir Guerrero Signs 6 Years Too Late

Editor's note: This post was a quick response to the Vlad signing.  After carefully running the projections, the difference was found to be 0.8 wins added due to his addition.

Vladimir Guerrero and the Orioles have ended their game of chicken with Vlad looking to be the winner.  The Orioles appeared to have no competition, but hemmed and hawed their way to about what Vlad wanted after his dreams of 2 years and 20MM met with the sounds of crickets.  Though, there is a question on the deal though winds up being how much of it is deferred.  Regardless, some will say "who cares? It is not my money.  Bring on the wins!"  Six years ago, sure.  Now?  Not so much.

Marcel, the regression projection model, projects Vlad to be a 284/335/466 which looks like a WAR of 2.  A rough rule of thumb place a WAR of 2 to be about average.  To restate that a little more in the vernacular, Vlad is an average DH.  His bat will replace Felix Pie's bat, which is replacement level.  That means that Pie is about as good as the theoretical AAA LF with the bat.  I think everyone can agree that in all likelihood, Vlad's bat in the lineup is much better than having Pie's bat in the lineup.

However, that is not the whole story.  Pie being removed from the lineup means that Luke Scott is now a leftfielder.  We can also probably agree that Scott is not as good of a leftfielder as Pie, but the question now is: by how much?  We established in the previous paragraph that Vlad's bat is 2 Wins better than Pie's.  Pie's glove is up to more of a question.  Pie has played only 117 games in LF.  In that time he has been recorded as saving 4 runs with the Dewan Plus/Minus system, 4.4 runs given by Total Zone, and 0.1 runs saved by UZR.  It is difficult to measure him completely as there have not been enough games played (you really want something in the neighborhood of 300 games at least) and scouting reports mentioned that Pie is getting better and better at defense.  So, let's call Pie an average leftfielder even though I think he is more likely a +5 or sightly better.  Luke Scott has seen twice as much time in left field and comes out as roughly 6, 3.3, and 3.7 runs saved over the same time period.  He also has not played leftfield in about two years.  It would be kind, I think, to save Scott will be average and more accurate to predict him giving up 5 runs per year.  We'll be kind and say he is Pie's equal.  This keeps the difference at two wins.

So, is two wins worth 8MM?
In general, yes, yes it is.  A win is worth about 4.5MM on the free agent market, so Vlad's contract is about what it should be.  However, is a win really a win?  I think it would be fair to say that a win or two for a 80 win team is not worth the same as a win or two for a 93 win team.  One may be content with an Orioles squad committed to winning as many games as possible, but I question to what end?  Vlad will not be an Oriole in 2012.  He seems awfully unpopular now and probably will be worth next to nothing come the deadline with the Orioles about 7-10 games off the Wild Card.  Other sluggers, like Jim Thome, were traded for inconsequential pieces like Scott Fuller.

I have to say two things:
1. I think this signing is ineffectual and wastes money that could be spent elsewhere.
2. I'm excited to see Vlad in an Orioles uniform.
OK, and a third thing,
3. I'm disappointed that this did not happen years ago.


Anonymous said...

Your friendly Dallas/Ft Worth O's fan, again!

Like most, my first reaction was "8 million?". As a sports dork, almost more than anything, I wish I could be a fly on the wall when conversations take place like the one McPhail must have had with Vlad's agent. Once the Napoli for Franciso trade went down, it appeared pretty obvious(I thought?) that the market for Vlad shrunk down to one team. Why the O's had to pay this much perplexes me, and the only real explanation I can think of is they wanted to pay a premium to get him on the roster now versus waiting for a spring training injury to possibly drive up the price.

In any case, Vlad does bring some power, some lineup depth, and a positive verteran presence. On the other hand, he takes away AB's from Pie and Reimold, has a fairly poor baserunning IQ, and is more than likely to peak well before the AS break, if at all.

With that list of pros and cons, I just wonder if this was simply money spent for the sake of having money to spend. If Vlad has a strong first half, and the trade market for his services yields a solid prospect or two, perhaps it's a good investment, but apart from that I can't imagine a scenario where the ROI on this deal ends up in the O's favor.

I hate to make every comparison about the Rangers, but, I do live in D/FW and follow them pretty closely so I guess it's the best I've got. Looking at how this deal unfolded, I am confident that there is zero chance John Daniels makes this deal given the O's circumstances, and by his standards, this deal is a year too late. Again, I'll reserve full judgement until mid-season to see if McPhail can flip Vlad to a AL contender looking for a DH, but until then I say the O's paid at least 5 million dollars too much for about 50 games of decent baseball.


Crawdaddy said...

I think that is a solid take on it.

One thing to reiterate . . . assuming that there is 8MM to spend, I have a difficult time seeing how it is better to spend it on Vlad than to spend it on draft picks and international amateurs. Vlad is just not going to be worth anything beyond this year. He might bring you a C+ prospect in a deal. If he qualifies for free agent compensation (if that still exists in 2012), why would you offer arbitration. He had a difficult time getting 8MM this year...how can he up his price in free agency? He cannot, so he is likely to agree to any arbitration.

It has been an interesting reaction to the deal. All of the O's players have released very positive statements (you would not expect otherwise, but I also think they mean it . . . as Joe Morgan showed, great baseball players do not equal great baseball analysts). About 80-90% of O's fans are ecstatic about the signing. Then you have the old school writers who all love it. Finally, the advanced statistical writers all find it confusing and a poor move.

I'm used to be on the side of its-not-as-bad-as-you-think and now this past offseason I seem to be on the its-not-as-good-as-you-think.