World Famous StatSpeak Roundtable: August 4

The roundtable today welcomes J.C. Bradbury, the man behind Sabernomics, and author of the book The Baseball Economist.  (Ed. note: that means that J.C.’s got a book, Eric’s got a book, and I’ve got… yeah… -P.C.)  Today, as might be expected, we discuss the craziness that was the trading deadline and what trades might still be yet to come.
Question #1: Why did Adam Dunn stay put?
J.C. Bradbury: I don’t get this. I understand why teams might shy away from Adam Dunn as free agent. After all, it’s difficult to explain to your fans why a guy who hits in the .240s and strikes out 180 times a season helps the team win. Sure home runs help, but that doesn’t seem to make up for it all in the eyes of the public. But, at the deadline, you want make additions that help your team win. This isn’t signing the guy to a multi-year deal that could backfire. If you put Adam Dunn on your roster, you are a better team. The Reds should have been willing to take whatever was offered. Even if the team plans to re-sign him,  it should rent him out and get some prospects out of his production.
I can’t tell whether the front office asked for too much or just didn’t try hard enough. Another possibility is that Jason Bay and Manny Ramirez interest just didn’t allow a market for Dunn to develop. So many teams put so much effort into those guys that the pieces for a Dunn deal were not in place to be made quickly. I think something similar happened to the Braves attempts to move Will Ohman.
In the end, the Reds should have made this happen. It’s not like the Reds didn’t see this coming. This is just another bad decision by a club that wasted $3.5 million on Dusty Baker and overpaid Francisco Cordero.
Eric Seidman: The only thing I can think of, without fully knowing all of the inner workings of potential deals, is that Dunn quite simply wasn’t as attractive when Manny or Jason Bay were both made available.  Otherwise, that would mean the Reds were dumb in thinking they have a shot this year, or other teams were dumb in not realizing that Adam Dunn would make their team better because, he’s what we refer to as a talented baseball player.  While Joe Brewski at a baseball game might think his .240 batting average stinks, front offices, even the not so sabermetrically inclined ones, understand that BA is a poor evaluative barometer and that Dunn brings much more to the table.  The Reds may have been asking for too much in return for a potential two-month rental, and at this point in the year a player isn’t going to add more than one win to a team than their current LF, if that, so he quite possibly stayed put because the cost of the prospects to get him wouldn’t have been worth two months of a player who wouldn’t offer an extremely substantial upgrade.
Pizza Cutter: The whole process sounds like it unfolded like a high school dance.  With most of the attention focused on the availability of the hot girls, Jason Bay and Manny Ramirez, the hot librarian girl who wears nerdy glasses, Dunn, wasn’t on anyone’s radar yet.  Everyone who needed a corner OF seemed to be lining up for Bay and Ramirez, but seemed to shy to ask them.  Dunn was mentioned as a fall-back option for a few other teams who were considering Bay in case they didn’t get  to go to the dance with him… or given the metaphor… her.  Everyone was too nervous to ask Bay to the dance and it wasn’t until the last minute that he… she?… got an invite, and so there wasn’t enough time to ask Dunn to the dance in time for Dunn to find a good dress and shoes.  On the other hand, it seems like the Reds were holding out until they got a guy who would pick them up in a limo, buy an orchid corsage, and spring for dinner at a good restaurant and no one was willing to do pledge that when the two hotter girls were still available.  So Adam Dunn sat alone at home while Manny got a glamourous date in L.A. and Jason Bay gets to dance with a fanbase that will adore him in Boston.
(Just to take stock of what I did… I extended a weird metaphor out way too far, called three Major League players girls, put the image of Adam Dunn cross-dressing in your head, and somewhere my brother is snickering about the fact that someone baited me with an Adam Dunn question.)
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why Adam Dunn is still a Red.  The Cubs had talked about adding a corner outfielder (or at least were discussing Raul Ibanez).  Tampa Bay looked like they would step in and grab Bay after the Manny-to-the-Marlins(?) deal fell through… and might have had a backup deal for Dunn ready (we may never know), but because they got skunked on Bay, they never had a chance to do it.  The Mets?  The D’Backs had been kicking the tires on Manny… why not Dunn?  Not one of those teams matched up with the Reds?  Or did trading deadline day turn into one giant staredown and no one blinked?

Question #2: Which player do you see having the “most” impact that will change teams through the waiver wire?
J.C. Bradbury: CC Sabathia. The Brewers are not that good, and I think there is a decent chance that the front office will realize this before the month is over.  CC could push a marginal playoff team—which will get first crack at him—into the post-season and should get to pitch twice in every series.  I could even see the Brewers manipulating when they put him on the waiver wire based on the standings so that the team can get the prospects it wants.
Eric Seidman: I’m inclined to think it will be a reliever like Ron Mahay or George Sherrill, but wouldn’t be surprised if someone from the Padres goes through, such as Maddux, Brian Giles, or even Josh Bard.  Other possibilities are Tim Redding and Jarrod Washburn, but I don’t think anyone is going to have a significant impact.  Like I just mentioned, at this point in the year, with just two months remaining, no upgrades are going to be substantial to the tune of three added wins or anything like that.  Mahay could really help a team’s bullpen, as could Sherrill.  If either of those two go through they will be effective.
Pizza Cutter: Well, of the players who weren’t traded who play on teams that could part with them, there isn’t one that jumps out at me as an impact player.  Aubrey Huff is having a good year, and could help someone as either a replacement for an injury.  Maybe George Sherrill.  I’m guessing that the biggest player who will be traded will be a random LOOGY.
Question #3: Have the Boston Red Sox lost their minds?
J.C. Bradbury: Not at all. And let me say that I have a pro-Manny bias, that stems from my watching him in the minors. I like his game, but I probably tolerate him more than I should.
The Red Sox shed themselves of a headache  while picking  up his replacement for next year. Jason Bay will make a paltry $7.5 million in 2009. Bay will be  worth nearly twice that amount. At his peak, Bay is similar to what we can expect Manny to produce. I think Boston will continue play well, and has improved the team for next year without having to pick up a $20 million option.
Eric Seidman: No.  No they have not.  Bay doesn’t have Manny’s reputation as one of the best of all time, but Bay at his age and next year will be close to a 36-37 year old ManRam, for much less money.  We don’t know enough about the inner workings or behind the scenes of everything that went on, but if the Red Sox were at a breaking point with regards to Manny and his 20mm options, where their options were to keep him and deal with the drama of a 37-yr old wanting 100mm over four years, or barely downgrading at all to a cheaper, younger player, they are still quite sane.
Pizza Cutter: There are varying degrees of losing one’s mind, and thankfully because of my “real job” in psychology, I’m the one who gets to decide who’s sane and who’s not.  (Someone out there just re-read my answer to question #1 and shook his head at that thought.)  To look at the Manny trade as a pure value trade, it’s actually not all that bad.  The Red Sox got back Jason Bay who is almost as good as Manny Ramirez and the guys they sent to Pittsburgh were unimportant.  Bay is signed to a relatively cheap contract through next year, while Manny had a $20 million option.  The Red Sox can at least make a sensible argument that they might very well break even and/or net out more value per dollar with Bay over Ramirez in the next year and a half.  Maybe the thought process was “We still have a good chance to win in ’08 and Bay improves our chances of winning in ’09 and in total, the probabilities are actually greater that win something.”  That’s at least rational.
With that said, let’s examine the premise of “We need to trade away one of the best hitters in baseball in the middle of a pennant race in which we are fighting for our lives… because he’s annoying.”  I appreciate that Manny can be a pain (I grew up with the Indians in the 90s), but the reality is that the Red Sox made themselves (slightly) worse for this year by trading Ramirez.  Even if Manny is lazy, he’s a lazy man who hits the ball better than a lot of guys in the league, and in the days leading up to the deadline, the Red Sox made it clear that they really just wanted Manny out.  Given those parameters, they made a decent deal, but this was a trade that didn’t need to be made.  One of the things that I do in my “real job” is to help people cope when things aren’t ideal or even comfortable.  Everyone has to go through those times, and the trick is not to do something self-destructive to compensate.  The Red Sox should pay a visit to my office.


11 Responses to World Famous StatSpeak Roundtable: August 4

  1. Colin Wyers says:

    Because Griffey isn’t actually good any more?

  2. jinaz says:

    Re: Dunn
    One rumor on why Dunn is still around is that they refused to trade him because they wanted to “make a run at 0.500.” That’s apparently what this team has been reduced to–making symbolic runs at winning records. It’s getting hard to be a fan these days.
    That said, what about the draft picks? Dunn’s a virtual lock to bring two high draft picks when he leaves… Dave Cameron did a study a while back that suggested that the typical value of compensation picks is close to the typical value of players received in a trade for a top-notch player. Isn’t it possible that the Reds simply decided that they could expect to receive get more value from the draft picks than what teams were offering in trades?

  3. It’s possible, though it wouldn’t jive with the “make a run at .500” you mentioned previously. I think it’s a fair assumption they expected to get more than the prospects though I would need to know that for a fact before giving them the benefit of the doubt on anything along those lines.

  4. Pizza Cutter says:

    The draft pick theory makes sense, although if the Reds really are making a run at .500, why trade Griffey?

  5. Shane says:

    I’m actually surprised the Reds were able to move Griffey over Dunn. I guess the Rental aspect came into play. But then again Williams said he plans on using Griffey in center field, so who knows about the thinking there…
    As for the Sox… I’m not sure. Before the deadline I thought a trade was impossible. Turns out it only takes struggling reliever, blocked outfielder, 7 million dollar and three teams to get it done. So far Bay’s played well so the nay sayers will be kept at bay (seriously, didn’t see the pun till I wrote the sentence). If Manny was truly dogging it and causing strife amongst his teammates, then the club might very well play much better going forward. Bay should give similar or better numbers than a disinterested Manny. But why couldn’t Manny have been sat down before everything got out of control and told, “Play your ass off for the year, get us a championship, we’ll not pick up your options, and have fun trying to get $25 per elseware”?
    Oh well, what’s done is done…

  6. Shane says:

    That should be “elsewhere” not “elseware”…

  7. DanC says:

    More proof that Jason Bay is way better than Adam Dunn, and would only lose in a head-to-head battle if it involved eating or fighting MMA style. But, since he’s on the Sawks, does that mean he now says things like “Wicked Sweet!!” and “Don’t get me staaaated,” which of course would lead me to hate him? Only time will tell…

  8. Lisa Gray says:

    ” I extended a weird metaphor out way too far, called three Major League players girls, put the image of Adam Dunn cross-dressing in your head…”
    – that’s ok
    i guess it brings out my inner lesbian
    sort of like looking at all those 80s hair band guys…
    but seriously,
    i doubt it really has to do with the overconcentration on either manny or bay, but about the fact that dunn’s batting average (the most important stat EVAH) is too low and his strikeouts (the SECOND most important stat EVAH) is too high. it doesn’t matter what happens to the balls that dunn does put in play and as you know, a popup, groundout or DP is a MUCH better result than a K.
    – the local media would have had a FIT about those 2 stats and i think that the teams just don’t want to deal with it.
    – plus which, dunn unfortunately has the rep of a guy who doesn’t care and dogs it. yeah, manny does too, but his BA is nice and high so it doesn’t matter if he can’t catch a cold in the field…

  9. Sky says:

    Am I the only one who thinks Jason Bay is a better overall player than Manny Ramirez, right now? Justin’s got him ahead by ten runs (high 30s versus high 20s over replacement level) and that’s with Manny “only” rating as -10 runs in LF. (League and park adjustments already made.) Yes, projections probably put Bay’s future lower than his 2008 stats, but still…
    On the money front, the Sox are actually paying “Bay” about $17MM next year — $8MM for Bay’s 2009 contract, $7MM from Manny’s 2008 contract, and $2MM from Bay’s 2008 contract. So they’re not saving much money over picking up Manny’s $20MM option.

  10. Colin Wyers says:

    Well, let’s look at the projections. These are Marcels out to 650 PAs:
    Manny – 36.3 RAA
    Bay – 26.7 RAA
    Fielding projections, STATS and BIS:
    Manny: -32/-33
    Bay: -5/0
    None of that is park adjusted.

  11. Colin Wyers says:

    As far as the money from Manny’s contract from this year, they were paying that no matter what they did. So they only added $10 mil in salary.

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