THT Live Roundtable: Thanksgiving edition

We’re back after a week away from the table (or was it two?), and everyone’s rested and ready to go. Thanksgiving is pretty much here, so we’ll start to see some real wheeling and dealing very soon. But until then, a simple roundtable will have to do…

Question #1: Which of the 2009 season awards did you disagree with most, and why?

Jeremy Greenhouse: Adam Jones over Franklin Gutierrez for Gold Glove was a criminally insane decision. Like you could get off a murder charge by arguing the Adam Jones defense.

Chuck Brownson: The voters, by and large, did a much better job than usual this year. I think Andrew McCutchen should’ve been the NL Rookie of the Year (and definitely deserved better than a fourth place finish) but the fact that they got the Cy Youngs and MVPs correct is a big feather in their collective caps. That said, it’s difficult to argue that Shane Victorino, Torii Hunter, and Adam Jones deserved Gold Gloves and Franklin Gutierrez did not. His 3 year UZR/150 is over 20 runs above average and his UZR for 2009 was measured at 29 runs above average. Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, and Mike Cameron would have all been better choices than the 3 who got the award.

Alex Pedicini: I would have liked to see Ranger’s shortstop Elvis Andrus win the AL Rookie of the Year. Andrus played gold glove caliber defense at a premium position and stole 33 bases. According to Fangraphs he was worth 3 WAR and Baseball Prospectus has his base running as adding another 4.3 runs. Andrew Bailey has a great rookie season as well but he threw only 83.1 innings out of the pen and was worth 2.4 WAR.

Dan Novick: My biggest “WTF?” moment of the awards season came after the announcement of the NL rookie of the year. I don’t think Chris Coghlan is a bad player by any stretch of the imagination. I think both Tommy Hanson and J.A. Happ were more deserving, but as far as position players go, I think Andrew McCutchen was more impressive than Coghlan.

Question #2: You’re the GM of fictional small-market Team X. You have to cut either a) 30 scouts or b) your whole statistical analysis team (we’ll assume you have a pretty good one to boot). What do you do?

Jeremy Greenhouse: C) The coaching staff. But seriously, the absolute most quants you’d have on staff are what? Five? Ten? There’s no way those guys can match the output of 30 scouts. And if they can, then you have a serious misallocation of resources on your hands. There’s no way the overall utility of fewer than a dozen stats guy can match the utility of 30 scouts. If you buck conventional wisdom, then either you’re a fool for firing 30 guys when you could’ve fired only 10, or you’re a fool for hiring 30 guys who can’t match the productivity of 10. Of course you scrap the stat guys.

Chuck Brownson: If your team has 30 stat guys, or is paying those you have the same as the 30 scouts, your team is allocating its resources very poorly. Fire the GM or the VP of Baseball Operations. Keep the scouts and hire a few good stat guys to do the stat work that’s needed.

Alex Pedicini: Although it’s not ideal I would have to cut the statistical analysis team. 30 scouts is a sizable chunk of the scouting department and I would not be comfortable losing their valuable knowledge and expertise, especially when it comes to the amateur draft. Statistical analysis is a great tool for evaluating players but no team has proven that they can win solely with this information. Scouts are the eyes and ears on the road and have a valuable place in any organization.

Dan Novick: Keep the scouts, fire the stat guys, hire me.

Question #3: Who’s going to win the Roy Halladay sweepstakes?

Jeremy Greenhouse: Well the Yankees and Red Sox kind of already won the Halladay sweepstakes (and Santana sweepstakes, for that matter) by not giving up the farm for him. I think the Phillies would be a logical destination for Halladay, and maybe the Cubs.

Chuck Brownson: Right now the Red Sox, Angels, and Cubs seem to have the biggest needs for Halladay but I just don’t see the Cubs as having the prospects or money to pull it off. Ultimately, I think he ends up in Boston, though I’m not sure the winner won’t be Toronto if they can get the Sox to give up Clay Buchholz and another top prospect.

Alex Pedicini: I get the feeling the the Angels will land Halladay eventually. They will need to replace John Lackey who will likely sign elsewhere this winter. Don’t forget in 2008 they landed Mark Teixeira before the trade deadline. They have prospects to offer and they certainly need to find a number one starter.

Dan Novick: I agree with Alex here. Everyone seems to be focusing on the Yankees and the Red Sox, but if the Angels can’t re-sign lackey, they need to do something to replace him. Halladay would do more than just replace him—he’s undoubtedly better—but there aren’t a whole lot of options out there outside of trading for Halladay.

Question #4: How much does all the talk that the Giants, Angels, Mets, Yankees, and Cubs will not be suitors for Matt Holliday this offseason help the Cardinals in their quest to resign him?

Jeremy Greenhouse: I don’t believe the talk will matter at all. However, I do believe in the laws of supply and demand. If the demand for Holliday isn’t there, his price will go down.

Chuck Brownson: Anything that lowers Holliday’s price benefits the Cardinals in a big way. I still think that Boras will slow-play the negotiations and toss out the “mystery team” speech he resurrects every offseason but the harder Boras has to dig in order to find a legitimate contender for Holliday’s services, the more that benefits the Cardinals.

Alex Pedicini: The talk certainly doesn’t hurt the Cardinals chances but there are plenty of teams who will be courting Holliday this off-season. He will command a huge contract, which is something the Cardinals may be reluctant to do since Pujols’ contract is up after next season (he also has a club option for 2011). I wouldn’t count the Mets out yet either. If Omar Minaya has proven one thing it’s that he isn’t afraid to spend big on free agents.

Dan Novick: It only takes one other interested team to give the Cardinals a headache and drive up the price. But if the bigger-market teams are generally staying out of things, it will help keep the price down, but there could come a point where it makes sense for one team to sign Holliday at a certain price but not for the Cardinals.

Question #5: What does _______ have to be thankful for?

Jeremy Greenhouse: Andy Gonzalez has to be thankful for the generosity of the White Sox, Indians, and Marlins. The worst player you’ve never heard of. He has amassed -2.5 WAR over the last three years, just beating out Craig Monroe for the league lagging distinction. A career .333 OPS and -12.7 UZR in the Majors and .713 OPS in the minors makes you wonder why three separate teams in as many years have given him a spot on their 40-man rosters, let alone playing time.

Chuck Brownson: Adrian Beltre has to be thankful for 3 things: the increased attention that teams seem to be paying to defense, the fact that he’s a type-B free agent, and top-notch surgeons. Beltre’s defensive capabilities and the fact that teams are putting more emphasis on defense means he’s going to get paid this offseason, which will be nice considering how his season ended last year.

Alex Pedicini: What does Adrian Gonzalez have to be thankful for? After a career season in 2009 in which he saw his walk total rise from 74 to 119 and his slugging percentage go from .510 to .551. Gonzalez put up these monster numbers while playing in the notoriously pitcher friendly Petco Park. Gonzalez’ stock could not be any higher right now and he is reportedly receiving strong interest from Boston. His contract is up in 2010 (club option for ’11) although it seems likely he will be moved to a contending team before then. Gonzalez is due for a big pay day in the next few seasons and San Diego will probably move him before he becomes a free agent.

Dan Novick: The MLB owners have a lot to be thankful for. They’re taking in billions in revenues, paying their employees less than half of that, and getting no negative press for doing so. The players making millions are called greedy, while the owners making many multiples of that are kind of just…there.

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Comments

  1. studes said...

    I would have answered the stats/scouting question differently.  I think the better underlying question is: which function would you be more likely to outsource? Outsourcing a function presumably saves money due to economies of scale.

    The answer depends on what a team thinks will be its competitive advantage.  If it thinks it can gain more over the competition by developing its own scouting expertise, it should focus on that. Vice versa with analysis.

    The nature of a marketplace (see Moneyball) is that not all teams will choose one or the other. There will be a natural equilibrium between the two functions.  Personally, I think stats analysis is the more conventional/commodity-like of the two and the equilibrium would tend to see teams outsourcing more stats analysis and keeping more scouting in-house. I believe that’s what Toronto is doing right now.

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