Friday, December 19, 2008

Smart Alecky Prediction

There is almost total unanimity in the Natmosphere around something that goes like this: "signing Tex is the best thing that could happen to the Nationals, and we should do whatever it takes, and we love him so much, and what could be better than committing to him for 8, 9, 10 years or whatever it takes we just love him so much that there's no imaginable downside to this signing..."

My prediction: if we do not sign him, the overall mood of Nationals fans will within about five minutes become: "he obviously never wanted to be here in the first place and so therefore why should we want him and he's going to be crap by the end of that contract anyway, I mean his PECOTA comps include Willie Aikens for god's sake and he was out of baseball at 31!, and besides he'll probably get hurt, and that's all we need, so good riddance I wish we hadn't even offered that jerk a contract in the first place good luck in [Boston/LA/NY] ya rotten bum."

Not saying that's right or wrong--rabid loyalty to the home team is what fandom is all about. But that's what I expect. It happened to Crow, and I think it'll happen with Teixeira.

Of course the truth is in the middle. Tex is a wonderful player, but there's a big risk associated with this signing, and the downsides are very real and potentially enormous. I don't think anyone should be unequivocally cheering for this to happen. Look at what ARod did for (to?) the Rangers. You can hope for it to happen and get excited--why not get excited and hope for the best?--but nobody should be thinking that this would be all upside with no risk. If it happens, we should all take a deep breath and pray long and hard for health and a favorable aging curve.


Moe Greene said...

Believe it or not, I couldn't agree more with everything in this post. Hell, I'll probably be on the "Good riddance, Mark" bandwagon.

I just want solid protection around Zimmy and Dukes. Is that too much to ask?

An Briosca Mor said...

There's a huge difference between the Crow negotiations and the Teixeira negotiations. Crow had no choice but to negotiate solely with the Nationals. With him it was them or no one, and he chose no one. The "he never wanted to sign here in the first place" point of view is a perfectly rational interpretation of his true feelings, which we as fans will never know.

Teixeira OTOH can go to whichever team he chooses to, and since Boras is his agent that will be the team that offers him the most money in the most attractive wrapping of contract years, opt-out clause and no-trade clause. If he doesn't come to the Nationals, that will be the reason. The only reason. There will of course be a few wacko fans who will say "he never intended to come here in the first place", since there always are. There will also be more of the "cheap Lerners never intended to sign him in the first place" grumblings, which would be equally misguided. But some kind of major fan backlash against Teixeira himself becuase of it? That won't happen. The Teixeira situation is identical to the Soriano situation of the 2006-2007 offseason, with the only difference being that Soriano actually played here and was a fan favorite before he failed to sign here as a free agent. That would have been serious grounds for neverending fan resentment toward Soriano the player, yet it never happened. Sori still gets far more cheers here than he does boos. With Teixeira, the reaction would basically be indifference. A few token boos maybe the first time he shows up here with the Red Sox or the Angels, but after that he's just another opposing player. If he's remembered as anything, it will be as the one who got away, not the one who snubbed us.

Hendo said...

1. Look at what IRod did for the Tigers.

2. Crow and his agent clammed up almost from the get-go; I don't think they ever negotiated in good faith. I haven't seen quite that same phenomenon here.

3. If the Nats lose the sweepstakes, I think the mood will still be upbeat: "hey, we can play with the big boys!" We'll get our shot in time, especially if Boras and Teixeira walk away feeling as if the Nats were being straight up throughout the process. (Something which only time will tell, I grant.)

John said...

On a slightly different note, is there anything preventing a team from front-loading a contract so that the highest annual values are paid out in the first few years and then the money begins to taper off towards the end of the deal? This would be paying the player more for, presumably, the more productive years and less as he gets older (thus making him easier to trade)? Would a player really care about when he makes his money, so long as he makes the same amount of money? I'm curious because I have never really heard about any deals like that, but it seems to make some sense, right?

Steven said...

sure you could do a contract like that. But the player would have to get more money on the front to make up for the tapering off and get the same value overall. So you're going to pay 30 mil to Tex for 3 years to get down to 10-12 in the out years? For the team I think you'd rather not do that because the value of a dollar is discounted over time.

Steve Shoup said...

@John, that does make sense in fact the Yanks did that sort of with Arod's new contract. Arod will make $179 million plus $7 millioin of the $10 millon signing bonus over the first 6 years. Over the last 4 he will only make $86 million plus the additional $3 million from the bonus. Now that is a bit misleading b/c the contract also provides for $30 million dollars for HR milestones ($6M each for reaching 660, 714, 755 and tying and breaking major league HR record). Of those he will only likely see the first 1 or 2 ( 714 is pushing it if he misses any significant time) over the first 6 years. But could add an additional $18-24 million over those last 4 years.

That is a rare occurance though b/c like Steven said the dollar depriciates over time. That being said why not when it comes to Teixeria, its not like the Nats will or should be spending it on anything else. The Nats will def. get an increase of fans in the first couple of seasons pretty much solely b/c of Tex. Plus there will be an influx of Merch. dollars in the first year or two. It would make sense to spend the money on Tex when you have it and don't have other major bills (esp. next year when Johnson, Young, Kearns, and Pena come off the books and save us $20 million). If you signed Tex for 10 years $200 million and gave him $25 a year for the first 4 you'd bring his last 6 years down to $16.6 a year thats not bad and could look like a bargin 5 years from now.

Steve Shoup said...

Steven: like I mentioned in a previous post I don't think Arod was bad for the Rangers, they were just bad for him. They didn't make good moves around him and were in a rush to trade him. They should have done what it took to kept the best player in baseball on their team. Between the money they were still kicking in and Soriano's Arb. money they didn't save that much in the long run (except when he opted out than they got a bit of a reprieve). They tried signing guys like Chan Ho Park and it blew up in their face. At least Arod produced. He had 3 amazing offensive years at the most premium position in baseball all while playing decent defense. Maybe by now he would have been at 3rd with them but so what he is still an amazing player. If Rangers hadn't made such bad moves they'd have a pretty impressive team right now. Imagine a lineup of Arod, Young, Kinsler, Adrian Gonzalez, Chris Davis and whatever great young catcher they want to use. With a starting rotation highlighted by Volquez, Danks, and Chris Young they would be unstoppable. I think the Rangers made a mistake when they traded him, yes they have shown they can have a great offense without him but at a cost also in money and prospects.

Steven said...

I don't think Chris Young could ever have been better than average in TX. This is a guy who in 2007 posted a 3.12 ERA with a 55% flyball rate and a 4.1% HR/FB rate. He's a creation of Petco if there ever was one.

As for ARod in TX, it's debatable. I don't know the situation well enough to really say. I will admit that last year around this time I was commenting on Nationals Journal that if the Nationals wanted to break the bank on a FA that ARod was the guy to go after (when he'd opted out).

He's the best player in the game, and if the Nationals had signed him and traded Zimmerman it would have been the single most significant way to improve the team in 2008. Still, they'd have been in the 70s at best, but he's the one guy who would have actually had a measurable impact.

Steve Shoup said...

Steven I totally agree with you I was hoping that the Nats last year would have been bold and sign Arod. Though I wasn't as bold as you since I planned him to play SS for 2-4 years then move him to 1st. And while I don't think Teixera is as good as Arod I do feel he's pretty close given his age, defense ability, the fact that he's a switch hitter. Hitters like that don't hit the open market that often so I do think he is worth it and worth the risk. While you are right giving that many years is a risk, Teixera seems like a pretty decent risk, given he's never really had a down year and has no injury history. As for the money the Nats are gonna spend over $20 million on WMP, Kearns, Johnson and Young this year, four hitters that combined to hit only 18 HR's and drive in 72 RBI's in 770+ at bats. Teixera surpassed those numbers during his time in Atlanta alone last year. Now likely that won't happen again if Johnson is healthy he can be a good offensive force but he can also be a sunk cost as well.

$20 million is risky the years are risky, but this is the player to do it for. I wouldn't want to spend near this much on Holliday or Bay next off season and i wouldn't have given half that many years to Tori Hunter. But to me Teixera is the real deal and can be the centerpiece of this lineup for years to come. Not to mention that similar to Arod if Tex spends the next 10 years with this club he could very well end up being the Nats first Hall of Famer (not the sure thing Arod was but how many people are that wouldn't be going in as another teams player?). That is something to consider as well the Nats need a presense in the HOF Tex is a solid bet.

Off topic but I agree with you about Chris Young he wouldn't fare too well in Arlington but like you said he'd be an average pitcher. That is something they are lacking in Texas so I am sure they are missing him.