01 December 2015

Pumping The Brakes On Pitching

As free agency has crept along in the first month, the Orioles have yet to make any moves with respect to their pitching staff.  Rumors abound with interested expressed in players like Yovani Gallardo and Jordan Zimmermann, but the degree of seriousness the club has is, well, uncertain.  With the presumed loss of Wei-Yin Chen, the club's best pitcher in 2015, it is same to assume that the Orioles will seek to improve the rotation.

As it stands, the rotation is:
Chris Tillman
Miguel Gonzalez
Ubaldo Jimenez
Kevin Gausman
Mike Wright
Mike Wright appears to have the most tenuous grasp of his slot.  Miguel Gonzalez might also feel some heat as his poor end to the season may be coupled with a long-term shoulder injury and whispers of a non-tender.

This past weekend many people, even long time writers, were surprisingly astonished by the deal that J.A. Happ signed with Toronto (three years, 36 MM).  They obviously were not paying attention to Happ (a 3 WAR last season with sufficient back end rotation performance in 2013 and 2014) or baseball contracts in general.  Our BORAS model actually overpredicted Happ's earnings by 4 MM.  In other words, we prepared our audience quite well to the realities of what Happ would cost.  Twelve million a year makes complete sense for a four slot pitcher on a competitive club.  It is why Jimenez' deal is actually quite on target market-wise.

The BORAS model did underpredict the money that Jordan Zimmermann wound up seeing from the Tigers, but it did get the number of years right (which is a bit easier to project).  BORAS suggested a light 5/88 deal, but he signed a 5/110 deal.  The opposite reaction was delivered with the Zimmermann signing compared to the Happ inking, which was that Zimmermann left money on the table by signing early.  Personally, I think this will wind up being a massive overpay for Zimmermann.  Batters tend to hit him hard (bottom third for starting pitchers) and he misses few bats (bottom third for starting pitchers).  At 30, he is well on his way to losing velocity and I question how well he will be able to adapt to another mile or two drop.  It should be noted that being hit hard or missing few bats is not an automatic collapse of a pitcher, but if I am handing out a two slot contract then I want to be more sure of that pitcher.  I would not want that pitcher to be at the bottom of those two metrics.

Where will the Orioles go?  I am unsure at the moment.  The club went through many discussions and connections until arriving at Ubaldo Jimenez a couple years back.  That happened after the publicized failure to come to terms with Tim Hudson, Bronson Arroyo, Gavin Floyd, and Scott Kazmir among others.  The club, with as many holes as it has, may decided to let the market play out and see who falls.

Below is the list of the available pitchers and the BORAS projections.  I expect Cueto, Fister, Price, and Kennedy are underprojections.  If I would guess, the last two pitchers to sign will be Samardzija and Kennedy.  Iwakuma might delay depending on his interests.  If I would be held to pick which one suits up in an Orioles uniform, my guess would be Samardzija.

Wei-Yin Chen3041664
Jeff Samardzija31310.932.7
Tim Lincecum32166
Johnny Cueto30515.477
Hisashi Iwakuma3521326
Scott Kazmir32414.156.4
Mike Leake28414.658.4
Doug Fister3216.46.4
Zack Greinke32728.6200.2
David Price30725.5178.5

Ian Kennedy3125.911.8
John Lackey37317.452.2

Yovanni Gallardo30415.963.6


Boss61 said...

Where does Chen fall in this analysis?

Unknown said...

A lot of those seem light on $$

Cueto just turned down $120 mil

You would think Fister - would be similar to Happ
or at least 2 @ 10 = $20 mil

I thought the cubs were talking with Smardjzia about
an AAV of 18 mil - which sounded crazy high - but 11 sounds low.

Philip said...

Question about the draft pick:
I went back and looked at the 15th pick over the last 15 years and was surprised to find only three household names: Stephen Drew, Scotr Kazmir, and a name I've forgotten, though it's a national leaguer and I follow them less.
How important is it to keep that pick? Do we know how deep the draft will be?
Because the farm system has been subjected to the "March through Georgia" trade meant by General Duquette, we desperately need to restock our farm, and even if it doesn't actually translate to wins, a 15th pick would have considerable trade value just on potential.
I detest long term contracts, but if we MUST sign one, Kazmir seems to be the best choice, because he's a ground ball lefty and doesn't cost a pick, or too many years.
So how important a consideration is that?

Philip said...

Also, re: number 5 starter:
Why not Tyler Wilson instead of Wright?
Wilson had fewer innings, but did have one successful start and was generally excellent.
I'm not down on Wright, but Wilson seems better

Anonymous said...

The Shark is BAD.
Why do we want to hire him?

Jon Shepherd said...

Wright/Wilson/etc. I do not think it matters much who we designate there at this moment. They are all about the same general value though Wright has more attention within the industry.

Draft picks are low hits, but big rewards. You have to get cost controlled talent from somewhere. Even the best clubs cannot rely on using the free agent market to fill up their rosters.

"Trade value"? Unsure what you mean by that. They cannot trade that pick.

Why do we want to hire the Shark? That was not the question I answered.

Jon Shepherd said...

Lightness of the projections?
Yeah, we have discussed that.

They also have hit on several guys, too. There is going to be some range.

Philip said...

I understand we can't trade the pic itself, I was referring to the player whom we would draft with that selection.
Whoever it is is going to have a great deal of potential value, and that value could be traded. That's what I was referring to.
If we surrender the pic, we also lose that value.

Chicago Curmudgeon said...

Does the chart correct for draft pick compensation value? Chen, Samardzidja, Greinke, Kennedy, Lackey and Gallardo, require payment in compensation too. And as we saw, everyone was underrating the value clubs put on compensation in the past.

I agree with Phillip about Kazmir. It is time we got some wormburning pitchers in this city to go with our awesome defensive in field. Get those rightys to ground to short and third.

Jon Shepherd said...

Nope. Still thinking how to address that. Probably a batch approach.