Welcome Keith Law haters! I’m sure you morons will have lots to piss and moan about with this one, as KLaw made his debut as co-host of the recorded-through-tin-cans-sounding ESPN Baseball Today podcast this afternoon, and punctuated it with a little analysis of the Jays’ recent big signing. It’s not anything we haven’t heard before, only maybe a little more harsh than usual. Still, you may want to cover your ears… er… eyes…

ERIK KARABELL: Mr. Law, is this a good contract?

KEITH LAW: No. Of course not. [Laughs]. You have a player with an extremely spotty track record of performance and playing time who has one wildly outlying breakout year. You do not rush to give this guy a five-year contract, because the history of players like that– particularly players– I mean, it’s not like Jose Bautista is 24 or 25 and just kind of emerged as a hitter. He’s way past that point. The history of those guys is very poor. He’s extremely unlikely to maintain that level of production.

The Rogers Centre last year played as a crazy home run park, and particularly for Blue Jays hitters, which is a very unusual split, and sure enough, Bautista was substantially better at home– another thing that I just don’t think he is at all likely to maintain. And the fact that he is pretty much a dead pull hitter, you can bet that over the course of this off-season plenty of front offices across the American League were looking at Bautista, saying, ‘why aren’t we pitching this guy differently?’ You will see that come into play in 2011.

So, the park isn’t going to play the same way, he’s just going to regress because– let’s face it– he is a lot more of what he was before 2010.

And don’t give me September splits, that’s a joke. Who do you face in September? You face the guys at the back of the 40-man roster.

He’s going to be pitched differently in 2011. There are a slew of factors pointing to him taking at least a big step back for 2011, and maybe going all the way back, closer to what he was before the 2010 breakout season. You don’t sign flukes to long-term deals. If he repeats it a second year, then you talk contract extension with him. But to jump on this one after one year that looks so different than everything that came before it in his career just made no sense.

And by the way, you just got rid of the albatross contract in Vernon Wells, why are you rushing to create at least the potential for a similar contract?

… After some interjection from Karabell and Mark Simon, Law added …

And he’d be hitting free agency at age 31. So, if he’s telling you this off-season ‘I want a five year deal’– I’m not signing Jose Bautista for his age 31 through 35 seasons, because I’m rarely signing any hitter for those seasons. By that point he’s already leaving his peak, you know you’re buying into at least some of the decline years. And a guy like Bautista, who did so little in his 20s, why do I think he’s going to maintain his value well into his 30s? I’m betting he’s going to decline faster than the typical hitter, again, for the same reason: it’s just such a screaming outlier, what he did in 2010.

Yeah… uhhhhmmm… ouch.

Comments (232)

  1. jesus. you don’t think teams have people working for them trying to figure out how good people are going to be going forward? The Jays didn’t just say “JB hit 54 this year so he’s worth 15Mil/season”, they obviously went through the process of determining how good they think he can be going forward and acted accordingly.

    As for the Lawrie thing, look at Matt Weiters in ’09. He was pretty much useless, but still played 96 games of 95 OPS+ baseball. The whole point is getting him in to games. If they think he’s going to be the stud that he was projected to be, they’re going to play him so that he can reach his potential. This is what the outrage was last year with JPA sitting on the bench.

    in closing– http://i248.photobucket.com/al

  2. sure they have them fuckhead, do you pay attention to the part where is said “some even got hired by mlb teams”? the point is they don’t have anywhere the significance you place on them. they are just another little bit of the picture. kind of like the video and computer guys teams have all added as those technologies have grown in importance. you really just can’t see that you are building your arguments on fallacy on top fallacy, can you?

    and i especially enjoyed the orioles ’09 playoff run. do you ever want to see the jays actually get good? or are you waiting until 2017 or something?

  3. chart who to vote for

  4. It’s absolutely batshit insane to say that Alex Rios is not worthy of an ~ $10 mil per year contract given everything he brings to the table: a hose for an arm, very good range, averageish in the error making department, great baserunning and basestealing, and average to slightly above average power (based on ISO, not just HR) at a premium position. That is a deadly combination of tools for a CF to wield night in night out. The problem in Toronto was: a) for whatever reason he looked horrible in 2009 and b) Vernon Wells was blocking him in CF, where he would’ve showed the old man how it’s done. For those two reasons he wasn’t going to be a fit here once Wells signed the anvil contract, but that doesn’t mean he’s not worth the money on his deal. Vernon Wells at 7 years/$126 mil or Alex Rios at 7 years/$69.835 mil plus an option on an 8th year at $13.5 mil making the total either 7/$69.835 mil or 8/$82.335 mil (there’s a $1 mil buyout if the 8th year option is not exercised)? I know which one I’m taking 1,000,000 times out of 1,000,000. The Jays tried to retain both of them and when Rios appeared to dog it in the first half of 2009, they rightfully let him go. I don’t think he would’ve been able to turn it around here. Some guys need the kick in the teeth that comes from being traded for nothing but salary relief. I wish him the best and marvel at his multi-faceted game that cannot be graded on HR alone.

  5. you are hilariouis, you want to pay 12 mil to a guy who you agree was dogging it? and you are bragging so proudly NOW after seeing him ops .791 which is nothing spectacular. where were you last year when he was stinking up the joint? when he ops’s .700 again I bet we won’t hear a word from you talking about how great that contract was.

  6. and rios once again after his hot start the second half of last year ops’d BELOW .700 again and got worse every single month down the stretch. yeah that’s a guy I want for the next 4 years

  7. You think the Angels will get almost as much value from Vernon as they likely would’ve got from Crawford? No chance. Crawford’s three years younger, so their contracts will end at the same age. Crawford’s defense puts Vernon’s to shame, although it will be interesting to watch them play the same position for the next little while. Crawford is an absolute burner and it shows, not only in his total stolen bases, but the rate at which he steals them. It also gives him a bushel full of triples, which may increase with all the peculiarities and crannies that come with Fenway Park, and he has elite level fielding abilities because of his wheels. Quite simply Crawford is an elite level player making elite level money, while Wells is a good to very good player making elite level money. I have almost no doubt Crawford will end up being worth every penny of his deal, and that Wells will not be worth his. It would probably be more of a miracle if Wells turned out to be worth his deal than it would be if Crawford wasn’t worth his, but it’s pretty damn close.

    Of course it’s all just another form of prognostication masturbation, which is apparently the central theme of this thread and a lot of others before it – the regular season cannot arrive soon enough. At least then we’ll be talking about what’s happening instead of what we think is going to happen.

  8. Agreed re: Sauer/Bautista, but please don’t put Lee Stevens and Phil Plantier in a post that’s designed to give us optimism about the Bautista signing. They are the types of players that one uses to backup an argument against signing Joey Bats to this type of deal. Plantier especially came out of nowhere and went right back to nowhere, and Lee Stevens was never much of a player, but at least he was consistently shitty.

    He was also part of Brad Fullmer Fan’s/Randle McMurphy’s favouriteist 3-way trade ever that brought Bradley Ryan Fullmer from the Expos to the Jays. So there’s that in his corner.

  9. Crawford steals more bases and Vern hits more homers and could play CF, other than that they are practically the same player. Power is more likely to stay steady into your thirties so I’m not uncomfortable saying that it’s quite possible that Vern will provide more value at the same ages.

    I’d rather have Crawford of course all things being equal but if you asked me about Vern for 4 yrs/80 or Crawford 7 yrs/142 things get a lot more complicated.

    Fenway will likely boost Carls numbers but in the end, he’s as unworthy of his contract IMHO as Vern was of his. Carl was just lucky to be the best of his free agent crop as Vern was lucky to negotiate so close to Beltran signing his deal.

  10. Plantier I’d noted was a mistake, but if Bautista has the same 5 seasons Steven did after his breakout and plays decent D it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world(except the fall of a cliff 5th year of course). Hoping for much more but if Stevens is a worst case scenario it won’t be too bad in the end.

  11. Carl Crawford’s season high for HR is 19, which he did in 2010…And he gets $20 mil+ per, so I’m not sure I understand your point about Rios and how he’s not worth $10 mil per with his career high of 24 and another season of 21 in 2010.

  12. Baseball-Reference WAR and fangraphs WAR are different because different components go into the equations. Both are valid. It just depends on your preferences. I prefer fangraphs WAR for batters because I prefer Ultimate Zone Rating for defense and wOBA for offense and I prefer baseball-reference WAR for pitchers because it’s based on what pitchers actually did, not on what FIP says they should’ve done. I like FIP and xFIP, just not as a basis for a WAR calculation.

  13. Baseball Prospectus = Ivory Tower. I like it.

  14. I think that if Bautista crashes out, the more likely scenario is that OPS, WAR, and further statistical evolutions will be utilized to vilify AA for signing such a risky contract. It’s not in any sports fan’s nature to use a certain type of stat over another type in order to excuse poor performance. Unfortunately for Bautista, he will hear about it loud and clear if he slips to 30+ HR because the casual Jays’ fan might assume that he is being paid 5 years/$65 mil to hit 50+ HR every year.

  15. I agree with most of what you have here, but if you think Carl Crawford can’t play CF (which I think is what you imply?), you’re crazy. He’s said that he doesn’t want to play CF, but he definitely could be just as good a defensive CF as mostly anybody out there.

  16. I didn’t realize the Blue Jays were paying a penny of Rios’ contract last year, or for that matter the next four years. When was the contract signed Grouchy? He was coming off two very good seasons in ’06 and ’07 and had his best year in ’08 (when you factor in his amazing defense that year, which was still part of the game, the last time I checked). I agree his time here was up due to whatever happened in ’09, but that does not make his contract a bad contract. Your citing of HR or OPS to tear him down shows that you’re still completely ignoring his main strength, which is that his game is multi-dimensional on both sides of the ball.

  17. I wasn’t “bragging so proudly”. I was stating my opinion that when it’s all said and done, Rios will have proven to have been worth the money by the time this deal is up.

  18. Wells and Crawford are not close to being practically the same player for all the reasons I stated above. Wells may have played CF, but he absolutely should not have been out there. The last time he played an above average CF was 2007. Rios should’ve been there after Vernon proved he was no longer capable of the demands of the job. It’s alternative universe speculation, but who knows how 2009 would’ve played out with Rios in CF and Wells on one of the corners.

  19. I read your Plantier retraction after I’d posted my response to your original post. Sorry about that chief.

  20. Not being an ass kisser but I just want to say that Tom Jackson is by far the most respectful and knowledgeable commenter that this site has seen for a long long time. For all the people calling each other assholes and fuckheads, take note of the way he respectfully disagrees with someone backed up with logic and sound reasoning without resorting to belittling or profanity. Even when people call him an asshole, or my favorite, cheap bastard, he refrains from responding in kind. Good on you Tom.

  21. agree. wish i had the patience to be polite, or the discipline to ignore.

  22. when you douchebags are done sticking your tongues down each others throats there is a new post.

  23. Thanks for the kind words Hurley. I have to say that I’m far from the most knowledgeable commenter on this site. In these days of stacks and stacks of stats at your fingertips on the interwebs, there really isn’t much separation between commenters anymore. I’ve also stepped over the line quite often with the sarcasm, and been rightfully called out for it, and expect to continue to be. If upon “sober” reflection, I agree that I was out of line, I won’t hesitate to admit it…And yes…Yes, I wear my cheap bastardliness and nerditude with a great deal of pride dammit. ;)

  24. Never gone far enough as to find out why he doesn’t play centre, just know he doesn’t. As a strat player it’s always weird to see a guy rated as a LF-1 every year with no other outfield eligibility. Have no doubt that he could but in this case not and unable come out to the same thing.

  25. I acknowledge I’d rather have Crawford, but I don’t think they’re as far apart as most think. Not so much that Vern is underrated as I think Crawford is overrated.

    To put it bluntly, Carl Crawford is not going to the Hall of Fame and personally I think only Hall of Fame talent should be getting 150 million dollar deals.

  26. No prob, Was a pretty bad brain cramp worthy of continued ridicule, lol.

  27. i’d feel more comfortable about that if fans were using common sense to understand how stupid signing bautista to this deal was in the first place, rather than trying to desperately defend it.

  28. if bautista can play an average defensive 3b and maintain stevens like numbers for 3 or 4 years the deal is not a disaster. if he gets pushed off to lf or dh or something sooner rather than later with those numbers – $15mil/year? you have to be kidding.

  29. Sorry to keep hammering away at this, but Crawford and Wells are very far apart in skill level. Even though WAR is probably flawed, as most stats are, it is currently the best way we have of quantifying a player’s overall offensive and defensive contributions to his team’s success. It also shows there is no comparison between the two. They move in completely different circles:

    Looking at Wells’ 8 full seasons (502 PA or more), he has averaged 2.9 WAR for them, and 2.7 WAR/650 PA.

    Crawford has 7 full seasons, during which he has averaged 4.5 WAR, and 4.2 WAR/650 PA.

    Crawford had his best WAR season last year, and his second best was the year before, so who knows what kind of trajectory he’s on. I agree that Carl Crawford isn’t going into the HoF, but to my way of thinking, that’s because the Hall is so biased towards offense. If defense were to be factored in on an equal basis with offense (remembering that a run saved on defense is equal to a run scored on offense), and he continues on this path, he would have a fringe case. It’s way too early to speculate on that though. Remembering that 1 WAR allegedly equals about $5 mil in this year’s free agent market, Crawford is “worth” around $20 mil, while Wells has only been worth that possibly last year and definitely in 2006. Very different players.

  30. No problem with agreeing to disagree but it’s also worth noting that a fair bit of Crawfords WAR is tied up in his steals and Defense. LF in Fenway is one of the easiest positions in baseball once you figure out how to handle the caroms off the wall and the Sox have not historically been a big little ball team so both of those advantages will be negated somewhat.

    Wells skill set is actually more conducive to holding up later in a career (mostly thanks to his power) so I still don’t think it’s that crazy to suggest that Wells could have more value in the last 4 years of his deal than Crawford will in the last 4 years of his. Of course we won’t know for 7 years(Unless Vern falls off a cliff of course).

  31. cunt fuckers cockheads.

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