Friday, January 07, 2005

The Transaction That Wasn't 

Not wanting to talk about that other trade until finally and officially complete, I thought I'd talk about the trade that wasn't.

I could analyze the Shawn Green failed trade as a straight-up proposition. Shawn Green at a net cost to the D-Backs of $8 M ($16 M salary minus $8 M in cash from the Dodgers) in 2005 in exchange for catching prospect Dioner Navarro and William Juarez.

Shawn Green's VORP
2001 -- 79.1
2002 -- 65.5
2003 -- 36.5
2004 -- 34.7

Look, if you limited this trade to 2005, this would've been an acceptable risk to me. You're paying $8 M for one year in hopes that Green will return to his pre-injury 2001 and 2002 form while giving away a potentially good catching prospect and a pitching prospect only the most die-hard of fans know about. If it doesn't work, then we have plenty of minor leaguers (Jackson, Quentin) ready to be in the outfield in 2006, if not sooner.

The rub, of course, was the contract extension. I don't know whether to blame D-Backs management for reportedly trying to sign a 2-year extension (if not a 3-year one), or to praise them for holding firm when Green essentially wanted a $49 M contract ($16 M in 2005 plus 3 more years at $11 M each). But I'm glad that it fell through.

But I wanted to look at the trade through a different prism.

Kryzstof Kieslowski was famous for making films that showed the effects of small, random events. The best-known of the critical analyses of his work is entitled "Double Lives, Second Chances." One of the movies most inspired by his work such as "The Double Life of Veronique," is Tom Tykwer's excellent -- and fun -- "Run Lola Run." The movie shows a young German woman trying to save her dim-bulb boyfriend in a 20-minute period. Three times. Two of the endings are not happy; a third is. Here, then, is "Run Lola Run," Shawn Green-style.

Last year: Danny Bautista and Shea Hillenbrand -- combined salaries: $6.6 M
Expected Win Shares: 31. Actual Win Shares: 26.

If the D-Backs went into '05 with these two, it's likely the combined salaries would not be much lower, as Bautista and Hillenbrand might swap salaries. It's also likely the actual win shares would be lower, as both players were considered to have had better-than-expected years.

Next year / Never: Shawn Green and Chad Tracy -- combined salaries (net D-Backs cost): $8.4 M
Expected Win Shares: 32. Actual Win Shares: 28.

So maybe we pick up one win, assuming no change in Win Shares. That's pretty pricy for an additional $1.8 M. But it seems safe to say that the upside of this combo is actually, well, up. Of course, this all assumes that Green doesn't sign an extension. With the extension, this scenario seems to be just as bad as the first. The exchange of prospects, essentially Navarro and Juarez given up and Peterson (from Toronto for Hillenbrand), seems a slight negative for the D-Backs, but not worth worrying about.

Next year / Possible: Jeromy Burnitz, Shea Hillenbrand, and Chad Tracy -- combined salaries: $10.0 M (I'm guessing $4 M for Shea, $5.6 M for Burnitz)
Expected Win Shares: 32. Actual Win Shares: 31 (assumed that Burnitz played 80%, Hillenbrand 70%, and Tracy the rest)

Another $1.6 M, and another win. The upside of this combo is considerably mixed. But it seems unlikely to tie Burnitz up for more than two years. Plus, he has additional flexibility in the outfield so as to make his usefulness in 2006 somewhat relevant, even given our outfield depth. When it comes right down to it, Burnitz had a better year than Green. This ending, while not quite as hopeful as the hopeful ending in "Run Lola Run," does offer some comfort to the D-Backs fan for 2005 and beyond.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

What Everybody Knows Already 

Seriously, I can't keep up with y'all posting every report instantaneously. But here's a report from the Arizona Republic confirming what MLB.com posted earlier on the Green trade -- the trade window has expired and there's no agreement. The report also mentions the reported extension for Randy Johnson that's been reported elsewhere.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Halfway There? 

So, I've obviously been quiet about the reported trades. Even though the paperwork's been filed, it seems odd to spend time analyzing deals that still might collapse.

The Johnson deal has until Friday at 9 AM Phoenix time to be completed. There's no sense that this deal won't get done.

The Green deal, however, is another matter. As the Republic theorized yesterday, and the Tribune reports today, is running into snags based upon the D-Backs' reported desire to reduce Green's salary in any extension. The window, Ed Price reports, ends tomorrow at 8 AM Phoenix time.

Although most of the reported parameters of the Green trade make me nervous, I'm not that thrilled, either, by having three catching prospects and no real right fielder should the Green trade collapse. But I'm sure the D-Backs aren't done yet...

(By the way, it's not like I've got the D-Backs' entire farm system memorized, but I'd like to think I know most of the players who might make an impact in the next 2 or 3 years. So I think I speak for most D-Back fans when I say, "William Who?" Seriously, I can't properly analyze Juarez…)

Although I'd heard rumors about Hillenbrand to Toronto, Price also reports that if the Green trade actually happens, Hillenbrand would be traded to Toronto for righty reliever Adam Peterson. We'll see whether or not that happens.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Angels Name Changes Leads To Six Other Name Changes 

In the wake of the decision by MLB's Anaheim Angels franchise to rename themselves the "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim," six other major league teams have announced their decision to change their names.

The San Diego Padres, serving one of the smallest markets in major league baseball as ranked by media market size, announced their name change to the Anaheim Padres of San Diego (APSD). According to a press release put out by the team, the name change "will strengthen the Padres' long-term economic health by enhancing the marketability through a metropolitan area that has been abandoned and shafted by the Angels."

The Padres' move is expected to be challenged by the Arizona Diamondbacks, who also claimed for themselves the entire Orange County market, announcing an official name change to the Orange County Diamondbacks of Arizona (OCDA). While some analysts wonder about the viability of naming a team for a metropolitan area in another state, lead investor Ken Kendrick was quoted as saying, "If it works for the New York football Giants and Jets, why won't it work for us? Besides, we hear that Troy Glaus is still popular there on the coast." It is still unclear how APSD and OCDA will negotiate their use of the metropolitan region.

On the opposite coast, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced their decision to become the New York Pirates of Pittsburgh (NYPP), immediately quadrupling their market share from little more than 1 million households by adding a portion of the New York area's 8+ million households. Experienced observers believe this move will make the Pirates the clear favorite for 4th place in both the National League Central and East.

The Florida Marlins and Tampa Bay Devil Rays each made predatory moves toward the others' areas, becoming, respectively, the Tampa Marlins of Florida (TMF) and the Miami Devil Rays of Tampa Bay (MDRTB), a move which is expected to have absolutely no effect on the long-term economic health of either team. Residents of both regions were quoted as saying, "We have a baseball team?"

Finally, the New York Yankees announced their name to the America Yankees of New York (AYNY). The move is widely believed to be an attempt to increase revenues to the Yankees' YES cable network so that the Yankees can actually afford the All-Star starters from both squads by 2006. When asked late Monday night if the move wasn't perhaps a bit presumptuous, George Steinbrenner was quoted as saying, "Neener neener neener."

In a related note, hockey's Anaheim Mighty Ducks also changed their name to the Los Angeles Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Because everyone has actually forgotten about the NHL, however, nobody cared.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Notes From The Weekend 

It was nice, I guess, to not have to deal with the Randy Johnson trade over the weekend. Certainly, if you were in New York, you did, but if you were in the hinterlands, of, say, Phoenix, the weekend passed with nary a comment in the papers.

As a result, my mind was clear, I could put off analysis of the trade until this week or possibly even next (Transaction Guy, however, couldn't wait.)

When it's finally official -- in other words, when I see a press release from the Diamondbacks -- I'll comment on the trade. Until then, I'll hope for yet another last-minute collapse in the trade talks (it's one thing to talk about a contract extension -- it's another thing to actually commit $50 million to Randy Johnson). But this much should be obvious -- the final analysis of the trade depends not on what happens between the Yankees and the D-Backs, but, rather, what subsequently happens (or doesn't happen) between the D-Backs and other teams.

Finally, from the Department of Contrasts, with the Phoenix Suns' win over the Trailblazers last night, they could lose their last 52 games and still end up with a better winning percentage (.317) than the D-Backs achieved in 2004 (.315). Eeeesh.