Death From Above: Mark Teahen

The Toronto Blue Jays have finally officially announced the signing of left handed reliever Darren Oliver, who becomes the most expensive free agent signing of the Alex Anthopoulos era with a one year deal for a guaranteed $4.5 million, including a $500,000 buyout if a club option for $3 million in 2013 isn’t picked up. In so doing, the team had to make room on its 40-man roster, and elected Mark Teahen to be sacrificed for the cause.

The Blue Jays now have seven days to place Teahen on waivers, or ten days to trade or release him. With a salary of $5.5 million due to him in 2012, it’s most likely that Teahen will eventually be released with the team eating his salary.

Toronto acquired Teahen as part of the trade with the White Sox that eventually netted them Colby Rasmus from the St. Louis Cardinals. At the time, it was largely seen as a salary dump by Chicago and something that the Blue Jays had to take on to complete the deal.

In seven Major League seasons, Teahen has been judged to be below replacement level in five by FanGraphs. His two successful seasons, 2006 and 2007, were the result of career high on base percentages mainly buoyed by an unsustainable batting average from balls in play.

Looking back over his career to date, the most surprising thing isn’t that he’d be designated for assignment by the Blue Jays, but rather that the Chicago White Sox would have signed him to a three year $14 million extension after the 2009 season, his second of four straight below replacement years.

Comments (51)

  1. When will the Jays give native sons like Mark Teahen a chance?

  2. Maybe when they stop resembling the bad guy from Justified.

  3. I’d like to see how the “Rogers are cheap fucks” crowd receives this one. The Jays will be paying Teahen the second-highest salary on the team next year to play somewhere else. It was an obvious move, but good for them for actually making it.

    • The Blue Jays are definitely willing to spend money. For example, they spent $5.5 million on a lousy middle infielder who could not make the team. Maybe I’m crazy, but I’d like to see the Jays make significant financial commitments to players who will actually play on the team.

      • The point is that they likely knew they were going to have to eat that salary eventually, but were willing to do so to acquire Rasmus last summer. So they may not be shelling out huge dollars to their centerfielder, but the end result is that they had to spend to get him.

        • So Teahan’s salary should be added to that of Rasmus? If the Jays are paying $10 million for their centrefielder I hope he produces at least a positive WAR this year.

          • That’s how I see the $5.5 million — as a premium they paid for three full years of Rasmus. So if you look at it that way, they just effectively added about $1.8 million to his salary in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

            MLTR’s arbitration salary projections have Rasmus pegged for about $2.3 million in 2012. If you add that extra Teahen money, they’re effectively paying him about $4.1 million (not $10 million – where the heck did that figure come from?).

            Colby Rasmus was worth 2.8 fWAR in 2009 and 4.3 fWAR in 2010 — in both cases, he was worth well above $4.1 million. Obviously you can’t ignore his awful 2011, but I think the Jays took a pretty reasonable risk on a guy with tons of upside. For $4.1 million, he doesn’t even need to be as good as he was in 2009 and 2010 in order to be worth the money.

          • Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Teahen’s salary should be added to that of Rasmus.

            Wait, no I’m not, because that would be insane.

            Sure, it’s not the same as just signing a free agent to a contract. But if you can’t see that eating Teahen’s $5.5 million in salary at least represents a monetary investment made by the Jays to acquire a player they wanted, I’m not sure I can explain it in simpler terms.

            If Colby Rasmus puts up a negative WAR in 2012, I’ll be the first to say this was a stupid series of transactions, because hindsight is super fun and easy. I think he’ll be just fine, though.

        • “Sure, it’s not the same as just signing a free agent to a contract. But if you can’t see that eating Teahen’s $5.5 million in salary at least represents a monetary investment made by the Jays to acquire a player they wanted, I’m not sure I can explain it in simpler terms.”

          If you can’t see that people call Rogers cheap with respect to the Jays because they continuously run below average payrolls, I’m not sure I can explain it in simpler terms.

          The willingness to absorb Teahen’s salary isn’t proof that Rogers is doing things the right way – it’s proof that things could be a lot worse.

          • Fair enough, but this discussion almost always comes back to two questions:

            1. Who would you have had them sign to increase the payroll to a higher number? (The last several off-seasons have not exacly been rife with excellent free agent investments, and yes, I know that’s using the very hindsight I mocked in my previous comment, but I don’t think any of us would be any happier if the Jays had signed Adam Dunn to the deal Kenny Williams gave him.)

            2. What guarantee is there that offering bigger money would get those players to play in Toronto anyway? (I’m not convinced there’s any reasonable amount of money that would have convinced Carl Crawford to become a Toronto Blue Jay, for instance. Or CC Sabathia, or Mark Teixeira. We might speculate that the same is true for Prince Fielder. We don’t know, but we have to at least factor it in.)

            If you want an above-average payroll without satisfactory answers to both of those two questions, we’re basically talking about artificially increasing the payroll number by paying the existing roster more than it’s worth; or overpaying for weaker free agents for whom demand is far less in the offseason, like the Orioles do.

          • Well, I did advocate Adrian Beltre all winter last year, so when people point to Crawford & Werth as proof that the FA system doesn’t work I chuckle.

            I agree that it’s unlikely players would want to come to Toronto unless they are blown away, at which point it’s probably not worth it for the team to pursue.

            I will say, however, that there’s A LOT of talent that can be had each offseason on 1 year deals. If the team refuses to spend money on free agents (a discussion for another day), at least throw the fans a bone SOMEWHERE. And by that I mean anywhere but 3-4m relievers that are well into their 30s. Pena, Oswalt, and Harden are 3 names still on the market that come to my mind without looking anything up.

          • Let me answer a little differently : I think it’s unfair to put the onus on the fan to come up with who the team should sign. We aren’t in the front office, we don’t have access to the reports the team spends millions of dollars compiling through their scouting sector. What we can see is the total payroll expenditure when it’s all said and done, and it’s not enough.

    • Spending this 5.5 million doesn’t in prove that Rogers are not cheap fucks.

      Their payroll is still stupidly low. AA has to work under constrictive payroll parameters and dumping Teahen doesn’t prove otherswise.

      • “Constrictive payroll parameters” is a pretty presumptuous way of phrasing it, considering you have absolutely no idea what those parameters are.

      • Please feel free to point out other teams that have dramatically increased payroll before attendances increases.

        • Marlins, Nationals, White Sox, and Angels.

          • Have any of these teams garnered the type of long-term success that proves such an investment is worthwhile? I’m just asking.

            Especially from what we know of past history with this particular, the chances the Marlins keep the team intact for the better part of the contracts and not stripping the team bare seems less than optimistic.

  4. It is pretty amazing that this offseason, AA has spent more on the 1 guy NOT playing than the guy he is paying to be IN the lineup.

    Still a ways to go, but it would be pretty funny if AA’s DFA pile earns more than his UFA pile.

  5. Can they not send him to the minors? Or do they have to release him?

    • Teahen tweeted that AA is a “man of his word” do even if they do have the right to send him to the minors (not sure if they do), I’d guess there’s some sort of handshake agreement that they’ll let him go find somewhere else to play instead.

    • He’d have to agree to it, and it makes more sense for him to try to catch on with another team.

  6. Watch the White Sox take him back …

  7. 4 million for Oliver? AA’s priciest buy to date? Not the definition of a sexy sign….


  8. Again, 5mm is peanuts, compared to what Rogers is bringing in on Blue Jays content and using that as an anchor to build the Sportsnet brand nationally. The Rangers and Angels are getting over 80 million per year for their REGIONAL only TV rights. Other similarly large media markets like Boston and Chicago have similar deals. With HDTV, internet, and mobile streaming, the content value game has changed dramatically and these broadcast deals are the proof. Even with Teahen, the Jays are going to come out around 70mm this year in player salaries. Assuming, they spend about 10mm more than the average team on scouting, the draft, and international signings and they are still WELL below spending what the Blue Jays are creating in value to Rogers or what teams in similar markets spend. This does not even factor that the value of the team itself has gone up about 25 million per year since Rogers bought the team. Yes, it is THEIR money, but to think that AA couldn’t improve the team now and in the future by saving prospects with another 20million+ in payroll is pure foolishness.

  9. Ty is right. You don’t know anything yet.

    Brian T is probably a Leafs fan who has pent-up frustrations and whose doom-and-gloom attitude must always shine through because it’s a safety mechanism if the Leafs don’t make the playoffs.

    Jays have a great chance to win. Stop being a bigger douche than Lawrie.

  10. Here we go again with the babip. “mainly buoyed” really? and how do you know this genius? what is unsustainable? his .329 babip in 2006 was exactly the same as in 2010 when his avg dropped 32 pts. so how was that unsustainable when it was exactly the same? oh and his hr total doubled from 2007 to 2008 while his babip dropped 53 pts. great predictor there. why don’t you explain that mr. stats expert. do you even know what you are talking about or you just make stuff up?

    • When everything else, most notably walk rate, is similar to career rates except BABIP and OBP, I’d modestly suggest that the increase in BABIP is the reason for the increase in OBP.

      I’m aware of your axe to grind and your internet crusade. There’s no need to be a dick about it.

      • I be a dick about it because you refuse to back up your arguments. OBP includes walks no? and walks have nothing to do with hitting right? so why would his walk rate have anything to do with hits in play? if anything you should be comparing BABIP to BA.

        and your argument still is not valid. his increase in BABIP in 2007 of 30pts resulted in a DECREASE in OBP of 4 pts

        as I’ve explained a million times to you, his increase in BABIP in 2007 was due to a decrease in HR. remember HR reduce BABIP. why is it all my examples prove correct and none of yours do?

  11. yes maybe I have an internet crusade and maybe I am a fool for coming back here, but you seem like an intelligent person which keeps giving me hope that you will someday get it and I won’t have to keep explaining it a million different ways.

    • I’m actually with you more than you think. I don’t think BABIP is immediately random, and I’ve written as much many times, often linking to Jon Hale’s post last year on the issue (which was an eye opener for me). However, it can be used to see a lucky season. And in the case of Teahen, I look at his .359 BABIP in 2007 and the rest of his career doesn’t compare to that number, while his walk rate is similar to every other year. Therefore, when you look at his very high OBP, I’ll say that it was buoyed by the balls in play number.

      • doesn’t teahan’s hr dropping from 18 to 7 stand out to you? you seem to be under the false assumption that BABIP is an independant stat. it is not. It is a formula which gets it’s value from 3 things, BA, HR% and K%. so any fluctuation in those 3 will cause BABIP to move. there is no such thing as an inplay avg. it is a made up term. what BABIP is actually measuring is the influence hr and k’s have on BA.

        the whole point of stats is for their predictive value. another site hardball times tried to do a study on BABIP and make calls on which players were unlucky and most of his predictiions were wrong. he called jason giambi a steal in 2008 with his .250 babip. result? he was horrible the next year too.

        it is very easy for you to look in hindsight and say which players were lucky/unlucky. why don’t you try predicting right now using babip which players are lucky? I guarantee you can’t do it.

      • the math doesn’t validate your argument. teahan is a perfect example. in 2007 as you pointed out, his BA didn’t change, his OBP didn’t change, his BB% didn’t change and his k% didn’t change much. the ONLY thing that changed significantly was his hr%. BABIP doesn’t move anything. it is the result. BA moves BABIP

  12. it actually can’t be used to forecast a lucky season. that’s the point. If you are so confident in doing so, I challenge you to pick some players right now that you feel are lucky. jacoby ellsbury had a monster year but his babip was only .336. is that high? I don’t think so yet I would suggest he’s wasn’t lucky, he just had a career year and I would bet he’s going to regress.

    • Owned, Parkes. Even PWNED…whatever the fuck that means.

      I still like your writing though. One thing which would be seriously helpful to me would be a really good link to all of the “nerd-stats”. What is the best site for them? Anyone?

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