In 1881 the future National League wanted to upgrade its image and target a more upscale fan base by doubling ticket prices, banning gambling, and outlawing alcohol sales. Several team owners who happened to be brewers refused to accept the new rules and banded together to form what would eventually become the American League. The National League attempted to discredit the new league by dubbing it the Beer and Whiskey League. This, of course only made the new league more popular. Duh!

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Around the Horn-Again Christians

** The 1-7 Mariners have now officially gone off to the worst start in franchise history. That is actually quite an accomplishment considering just how many god-awful seasons the Mariners have had in their twenty-seven year history. But, to add insult to injury, Mike Scioscia – you know, the manager of the team that is responsible for handing the Mariners five of those seven losses – had the gall to tell the Mariner’s faithful to “have faith.”

"Those guys are so professional that they could be 7-1 instead of flip-flopped," he said. "You see guys playing hard, digging for the extra base, staying in the game defensively. I have the utmost respect for those guys."

"There's no quit in that team," Scioscia said. "They can do a lot of things well and beat you in a lot of different areas. Let me tell you something: They're going to be there at the end."

As a Mariner fan, this kind of talk really pisses me off. This is like having someone who just broke up with you tell you, “I’m sure you’ll find someone wonderful very soon.” Yeah, of course I’ll find someone else and of course my life will go on but I don’t fuckin’ need to hear you tell me this shit and especially not right now so just get the hell out of my life. (Note to self: take a deep breath, remain calm, it's only baseball).

** The Mariner’s decision to hire Bill Bavasi was not very welcome in the Mariner nation especially in that one corner of the country known as the blogosphere. Most vocally or most obviously (depending on how you look at it) was the Bavasi Stinks web page. Now, those anti-Bavasi sentiments seem to have grown and spread. Even the Mariner’s Optimist has started to mumble and grumble. Hey, M.O. remember what Scioscia said, “Have faith!”

** The other day I briefly mentioned that Garret Anderson had signed a four-year, $48 million extension. I had planned on writing a piece on why this contract was so well deserved but, fortunately for me (and probably for you), Aaron Gleeman over at the Hardball Times has already written an excellent article discussing Anderson's value and why he is in the unique position of being overrated by some and underrated by others.

** And while we’re on the subject of contracts: Magglio hit a walk-off homerun in the tenth inning today against the Royals. He’s currently making $14 million for the year and the word is that he wants a five-year, $70 million contract. For those of you running the math in your head, you will notice that this comes to $14 million per year. Reinsdorf has reportedly countered with a four-year contract also at an average of $14 million but it’s backloaded (something that Mags does not want). So, is Magglio worth the money? Well, fortunately for us, since Anderson just signed a contract extension we have a point of comparison.

Magglio OrdonezGarret Anderson

Bats Right, Throws Right
Six full seasons
Left Field
Bats Left, Throws Left
Nine full seasons
Left Field

Chicago White Sox”Anaheim” Angels

January 28, 1974 June 30, 1972




Mags is one and a half years younger than Anderson but Anderson has spent three more seasons in the majors. Even though Anderson is playing center field this year, I've listed him as a left fielder since that where he has played for most of his career. Their overall batting averages are about the same; defensively, Anderson is probably a notch better (especially with that arm of his); they’ve both been relatively injury free playing around 150 games per season; and I realize this last point may be completely irrational and irrelevant but I really love the fact both players have been lifers. I don’t buy the argument that free-agency has ruined baseball and that somehow in the Golden Era of baseball players were more likely to stick with their team. Statistically, that’s not true. It’s just that we remember the best players and no franchise is going to let their best players go. And by the way, remember that Babe Ruth played for three teams (Red Sox, Yankees, and the Boston Braves).

Anyhoo, getting back on track, the big difference between the two comes in power and patience. Mags has 181 career homeruns while Anderson has 195 (but, remember, Anderson has three more seasons which translates to 1857 more at bats). Mags’s SLG and OBP are both forty points higher. Most notably, however, Mags’s OPS (which I never include because if you’re too lazy to quickly add up SLG and OBP then you should be doing something else with your time) is nearly 90 points higher than Anderson’s.

Bottom line, if you’re going to pay Anderson $12 million per year to play until he’s 36 then I don’t think it would be outrageous to pay Magglio $14 million per year to play until he’s 35. Of course, you could just as easily make the argument that Anderson was way overpaid and that Mags is not worth $14 million over five years. And I guess, ultimately, the only opinion that counts is Reinsdorf's (which we'll know soon enough I suppose).

** On a quick tangential note
(and possible peek into a future post): The fact of the matter is, I don't think a player's worth should be figured in raw numbers but, instead, it should be figured in relationship to payroll. In other words, the question should not be "Is Garret Anderson worth $12 million per year?" but rather, "Is Garret Anderson worth X% of the Angel's overall payroll?" The big mistake that Tom Hicks made when he signed A-Hole to that ridiculous contract was not in giving A-Hole so much money in terms of raw dollars but in giving him such a large percentage of the overall budget.

The Yankees can afford to overpay because a $15 million contract is a smaller piece of their overall budget than a $10 million contract would be for a team like the Minnesota Twins. While it would be incredibly foolish for a small-market team like the Twins or the Royals to pay Anderson $12 million, it might not be so foolish for the Angels since the two teams work with dramatically different payrolls. So, the answer to the question as to whether or not Magglio is worth $14 million per year needs to be filtered through what the White Sox are planning to do with their overall budget. Are they going to compete as a large-market team or are they going to compete as a small-market team? If it's the latter, then the answer is no. The Mariners, on the other hand, could most certainly afford to absorb a $14 million contract but, of course, despite having the second-highest overall revenue, the Mariners refuse to be in the top ten in payroll.

It's not unlike life: You don't have a car and you need to buy one. There's a dealer right across the street from you and he can sell you a car with air conditioning for $30 K. Now, way across town, there might be another dealer who will sell you the same car without air conditioning for $25 K. And let's say the "raw" value of air-conditioning is only $500 so if you buy the car at $30 K you are overpaying for the air conditioning by a whole lot of money. Now, if you're "working-class" and you worry about your budget then it is most certainly worth the effort to take the bus and search out this other dealer (even though you may have to take your time and visit at least four or five places before finding the right one) but if you happen to have lots of money and the difference of $5 K is not worth that much to you then you would most likely save your time and energy and just walk across the street.

In other words, the "real" value of the car -- and the value of the air conditioner -- should be measured not in the raw numbers but in those numbers as they relate to your overall budget. Perhaps to put this in "metric-friendly" terms we can call this the "affordability index." But, of course, you could argue that this is still "inefficient" -- that even if you could afford to spend an extra $5K it would be inefficient to do so when you don't have to. Yes, you could make this argument and I wouldn't disagree but this is baseball and baseball has never been known for its efficiency.

So, Magglio is asking for $14 million. For $4 million you could probably get a very decent player ... someone about the same age who can produce, let's say, 90% of the numbers Mags is capable of producing for 75% less money someone like ... oh, perhaps Randy Winn. (AVG/OBP/SLG: .283/.343.406). In 500 at bats, Winn's numbers translate to 142 hits (via AVG) and 203 bases (via SLG). Magglio, in those same 500 at bats would have 156 hits (with his career .308 AVG) and 264 bases (with his career .528 slugging). Simply put, Mags will produce approximately fourteen extra hits and sixty-one extra bases over the course of a typical season. Are those fourteen extra hits worth the $10 million difference between Winn and Ordonez? Well, again, the answer depends on whether or not the White Sox can afford the extra $10 million for those hits just as in my hypothetical example, the question of whether or not the air conditioner and convenience are worth the extra $5 K is dependent on your budget.

I'm not particularly good at math but, nonetheless, over the next few weeks, I'm going to try to figure out some formula that can measure the affordability index (heck, maybe this will get me in a job in the Mariners front office ... oh, I can dream, can't I?). Wish I had majored in Econ instead of English.

** And so let’s stick with the AL Central for a moment, shall we? This afternoon, the Motor City Kitties got destroyed by the Toronto Blays 11-0 and Roy Halladay got his first win of the season (he’s now 1-2). Perhaps the stars are finally starting to realign in their proper places (and perhaps this means the Mariners will win a few games … hey, Texas is coming up this weekend). But what I found most amusing was that at one point the Tiger fans actually started booing their own team. Come on! Talk about being spoiled. Just remember how awful your team was last year? Sure, they had a bad day … every team has a bad day (or bad first two weeks of the season) but you guys still have a 6-3 record and are tied for first with the ChiSox. You’re well into the second week of the season and this is the first series you’ve lost. Boy, I hate to see the riot that will ensue when, heaven forbid, the Tigers fall below .500. Geez.

** More on the Tigers for a bit – and let’s subtitle this paragraph “A Tale of Two Kitties” – I was listening to their game on Tuesday (which the Blays won 7-5). After two full innings, the Tigers had a 5-1 lead which the Blays slowly chipped away at with two runs in the third, one run in the seventh, one run in the eighth, and two (go-ahead) runs in the ninth. It was a decent game with a few good breaks going to the Blays but something happened in the eighth inning that I think very neatly summarizes the difference between the Tigers version .03 and .04.

In the top of the eighth, the Tigers managed to load the bases without a single out. In 2003, this would probably have resulted in some crooked numbers for the Blays. Instead, the Tigers got out of the inning having given up only one run (granted, it was the tying run but oh well). In the bottom of the inning, the lead-off man got on and they ultimately ended up loading the bases with only one out. But, just as soon as we thought Tigers version .03 was long gone buried, it reared its ugly head again and the Tigers were knocked out of the inning with a big goose egg … and, of course, they proceeded to give up two runs in the top of the ninth for the loss.

** Those crazy cats over at ESPN’s Page Two, have put together a bunch of articles on baseball’s most agonizing moments. Schoenfield has compiled the most miserable moment in every franchise’s history while the usually grating and not very funny Jim Caple has compiled a misery index to determine which franchise has given their fans the greatest amount of torment. The article I like best, however, is Eric Neel’s twenty-five most miserable moments in baseball history (well, except for his poke at Ken Burns’s baseball documentary – #25 – which I liked quite a it). Top of the list (or is that bottom?) is, of course, the 1994 strike that canceled the world series. As Bud Selig said at the time:
We have reached the point where it is no longer practical to complete the remainder of the season or to preserve the integrity of postseason play.

I know more than a few people who completely gave up on baseball after that and have not returned to the game since. In fact, one of them did not realize until a few months ago that baseball now had three divisions.

At numbers three and two, respectively, Neel has the 1986 ALCS and the 1986 World Series. This is basically a battle of the lowest moments fronted by Donnie Moore’s Angels and Bill Buckner’s Red Sox. I’ve mentioned this before, but I think one of our readers, Eyespy, put it best:
After the gaff Bill Buckner retired from baseball, after the homerun Donnie Moore retired from life. It's not the same thing.

Damn straight. But hey, Mr. Neel, how’s this for misery? As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up an Angels fan, my family moved to Seattle and I became a Mariners fan. And every single day of the season I have to be reminded of that 1986 Donnie Moore pitch because guess who does the color commentary for the Mariners? Yep, you guessed, Mr. Dave “Hendu” Henderson, the very man who hit that go-ahead homer off of Donnie Moore. Damn, gap-toothed Hendu! Now THAT’S misery.