• Grading Last Year's Free Agent Pitching Market

    In light of John's recent suggestion, I went ahead and compiled the results of the 2013 free agent pitching market. I excluded pitchers that ended up as relievers, and I excluded pitchers such as baseball's version of Gandolf the Gray (Jamie Moyer), who did not sign.

    The pitchers' results have been surprisingly better than I thought they'd be, but I'm not certain that we at Twins Daily would have gotten them right.
    I'm too lazy to look up all of the suggestions from last winter, but the names I remember being tossed around were either unrealistic (Grienke, Sanchez, etc) or have horribly performed (Jackson, Haren, Marcum). Some of the multi-year deals obviously need to be vetted in terms of their length; I suspect guys like Lohse and Greinke will not look so good at the end of their contracts.

    One interesting observation is that the Cubs took three gambles in the FA pitching market. One (Scott Feldman) has worked out very well for them. One (Scott Baker) flushed $5.5M down the toilet. One (Carlos Villanueva) may also net them a prospect. The Cubs are a large market team, so they essentially used $15M this offseason to buy some prospects in what is a lost year for them. Given their fan base will show up no matter how poor a product they put on the field, this isn't a bad strategy for the lovable losers.

    The Good:

    Zack Greinke: 8-2 3.36 ERA in 91 innings. Lost time due to an injury sustained in a fight.
    Jake Peavy: 7-4 4.19 ERA in 73 innings. Also spent time on the DL. Peripherals better than Greinke so far.
    Anibal Sanchez: 7-7 2.85 ERA in 98 innings. Though the record hasnít indicated it, he has pitched like an ace striking out more than 10 per 9 innings and walking fewer than 3 per nine innings.
    Hiroki Kuroda: 9-6 with a 2.65 ERA in 125 innings. Has pitched quite well for the $15M contract the Yankees gave him, though his K rate is significantly lower than the others; he may regress.
    Kyle Lohse: 6-7 with a 3.49 ERA for the Brewers. Peripherals donít look too good, but heís gotten the results thus far and justified his 3 yr./$33M contract.
    Ervin Santana: 6-6 with a 3.18 ERA for the Royals in 130 innings. Has to date justified his 1 yr./$13M contract and will likely be able to parlay that into a multiyear deal this offseason.
    Francisco Liriano: 9-4 with a 2.44 ERA in 81 innings for the Pirates. He signed a $1M deal with a second year option that will likely be picked up. He has been by far the best value deal of the class as heís pitched like an ace. He turned down an offer from the Twins, and Iíd say thereís a good chance he would not have pitched this well had he returned.
    Scott Feldman: 8-6 with a 3.86 ERA. Cubs were able to flip him and his 1 yr./$6M contract for prospects.
    Bartolo Colon: 12-3 with a 2.70 ERA for the Aís. Great value for $3M.

    The mediocre:

    Ryan Dempster: 5-8 with a 4.24 ERA in 110 innings for the Redsox. Heís been just better than league average, and not quite justifying the 2 year $26.5M contract.
    Jeremy Guthrie: 9-7 with a 4.41 ERA in 126 innings for the Royals. I hate to see how this will turn out in years 2 and 3 of his $25M contract.
    Joe Saunders: 9-8 with a 4.28 ERA in 120 innings. Great value from the $6.5M contract he got this offseason.
    Carlos Villanueva: 2-6 with a 4.16 ERA in 84 innings for the Cubs. Signed a 2/$10M contract and has earned his keep.
    Erik Bedard: 3-7 with a 4.41 ERA in 98 innings for the Astros. Could possibly be flipped for a prospect.
    Kevin Correia: I donít think I need to summarize this one. Heís earned his contract, though not much more.
    Jason Marquis: 9-5 with a 4.05 ERA. Probably the best of the mediocre group and cheap at 3M. I somehow doubt he was going back to MN.
    Roberto Hernandez: The player formerly known as Carmona is 5-10 with a 4.9 ERA for the Rays. Only cost $3.25M.

    The Bad:

    Edwin Jackson: 6-10 with a 5.11 ERA in 100 innings. He has not lived up to his potential.
    Brandon McCarthy: 2-4 with a 4.99 ERA in only 66 innings. He was cheap at 2/$16.5M, but has not pitched nearly enough, nor well enough to justify the contract.
    Dan Haren: 4-10 with a 5.61 ERA for the Nationals. Has not justified his 1/$13 Mcontract.
    Shaun Marcum: 1-10 with a 5.29 ERA for the Mets. At least only cost them $4M.
    Joe Blanton: 2-12 with a 5.53 ERA for the Angels. Not worth the 2/$15M contract he signed.
    Roy Oswalt: 0-4 with a 7.64 ERA in only 17 innings for the Rockies. He has pitched well in AA.
    Freddy Garcia: 3-5 with a 5.77 ERA for Baltimore. At least he was cheap.
    Jeff Francis: 2-5 with a 6.58 ERA for the Rockies. Cost $1.5M.
    Chien-Ming Wang: 1-1 with a 7.13 ERA for the Jays in only 24 innings. Singed for $.5M.
    Jonathan Sanchez: 0-3 with an 11.85 ERA for the Pirates.

    The ugly:

    Colby Lewis: Has been paid $2M to not pitch.
    Chris Young: He did not sign a major league deal, so this really didnít not hurt his team. He has not pitched well in AAA thus far.
    Scott Baker: I want get paid $5.5M to never set foot on a mound.
    Daisuke Matsuzaka: Signed a minor league deal and has yet to pitch in the majors.
    Carlos Zambrano: Signed a minor league deal and has yet to pitch in the majors. Has pitched well in the minors.
    Aaron Cook: Signed a minor league deal and is getting shelled in the PCL.
    Kip Wells: Signed a minor league deal and is getting shelled in the PCL.

    Breakdown:
    Good: 9 players
    Mediocre: 8 players
    Bad: 10 players
    Ugly: 7 players

    Since Ryan was clearly looking for shorter term deals, we can look back to see who were the best signings.

    The best contracts overall were for Liriano (who turned down an offer to return), Feldman, and Colon. Both signed short term contracts and have vastly outperformed them. We all know the enigma that is Liriano, so it doesn't bear repeating. There is significant question whether he would have pitched this well in Minnesota.

    Many of the mediocre contracts would have played out similarly to Kevin Correia. None of these guys would be major difference-makers, but most of them would be upgrades to our current rotation.

    Approximately 50% of the players that signed have performed well enough to earn their contracts. Given that a number of the good players, such as Sanchez, Grienke, Liriano, and Lohse weren't likely to come here due to either a large contract or problematic history, Ryan's odds of succeeding were less than that. The Twins would likely be in different shape had they signed Feldman, Colon, and Kuroda this offseason. These were not names that many were arguing for, and at 15M, Kuroda would have sucked up the entire budget. As a result, I'm not sure the posters at Twins Daily would have assembled a much better rotation than what Ryan did, and it most certainly would have cost more.
    This article was originally published in blog: A return to the 2013 FA pitching market half way through the season. started by diehardtwinsfan
    Comments 350 Comments
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      So what should Terry Ryan have done, exactly? Oh, he should have signed and traded for all the pitchers that ended up doing well. Duh.
      I haven't been following this thread real closely, so I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or not. But I'll say this: I think the fans can expect him to use all the resources he has to make as good a team as he can. He didn't do this. He reportedly left $20 million on the table, and while $20 million doesn't go as far as it used to, that's a lot of money to not spend.

      And yes, part of his job is to find the pitchers that ended up doing well. That doesn't mean he can't have any misses. But the problem is that he only got two guys (Correia, Pelfrey) and only one of them hit. (Or three guys, and only one hit, if you count Worley).

      That doesn't mean he didn't try for others. We know they thought they had a good chance at Saunders. But it's akin to leaving money on the table at your fantasy draft. It's not the end of the world, but if you do that, you screwed up.

      And I don't think you fire the guy because he had a really bad offseason. But just because I don't think he shouldn't be fired doesn't mean I shouldn't call it a pretty dismal offseason. It was. Let's hope he learned something from it for this next one, because it looks like he's going to get a "redo."
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      You're right in the abstract, John; but beyond Saunders, I'm not sure there really were other viable options on the market, given how thin the pitching class was. His strategy of casting a wide net and hoping to catch something good is flawed, but so is putting all of your resources into one pitcher (like Edwin Jackson). Again, people are measuring TR's offseason against the ideal not against the possible.

      People like to rail against how bad starting pitching is, but when asked for what specifically they would have done, the same people go quite.

      I think the real debate is beyond the first tier of FA pitchers (Sanchez/Grienke) is the free agent pitching class a crapshoot or not. I believe that it is, and casting a wide net is the only viable alternative to signing a top tier pitcher.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      Ryan would agree with you himself, but there's no need to take the ball and go home. Rebuilding is a process and mistakes are made. He's working on it as we speak, he'll be working on it this winter, and he'll be working on it in the June draft. Our job is to argue over his day by day progress ad nauseam.
      This is more acknowledgement than usual. I don't pretend the griping wuld end with more concessions like this, but it would sure fix a lot of the repetitive debates. THere should be nothing but universl agreement Ryan failed his own goals last year, goals I would imagine we all shared at some level.

      IF we all started from here I think we'd have more mutual understanding of opposing views. we can agree to disagree and still find Ryan a fine GM. But the incessant apologizing for clear failures has to end. if this FA group was so bad, Ryan never should have set the goals he did, but there are other ways to think about it too. What is relevant is where do we go from here? in my eyes there are four general paths:

      1. Ryan failed last season, but succeeds next offseason by bargain hunting and helps build a contender.

      2. Ryan is (as you have argued) "happy" to keep losing big league games while we wait on prospects and has another failed offseason.

      3. Ryan doesn't like losing but is so principled against the kinds of trades and signings that bring significant and immediate help that we not only fail next offseason but generally do so for the rest of his tenure.

      4. Ryan realized his mistake and now intends to play with the big boys when the time is right.

      Now you might believe 4 is the truth. I'd argue we have a significant history to back up 3. In any case, you have to acknowledge the possibility that it is true and we may be battling this problem well into when our young prospects arrive. This offseason is critical to see which of these paths we're on. I genuinely hope it is 4 - but I need to see something, ANYTHING to give me reason to believe it. It could be an awful contract (80M to Bruce Chen for all I care) but I need something to show me the willingness is there. Until then, I'm pretty convinced 3 is true, but the Twins fan in me hopes I'm wrong.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      You're right in the abstract, John; but beyond Saunders, I'm not sure there really were other viable options on the market, given how thin the pitching class was. His strategy of casting a wide net and hoping to catch something good is flawed, but so is putting all of your resources into one pitcher (like Edwin Jackson). Again, people are measuring TR's offseason against the ideal not against the possible.

      People like to rail against how bad starting pitching is, but when asked for what specifically they would have done, the same people go quite.

      I think the real debate is beyond the first tier of FA pitchers (Sanchez/Grienke) is the free agent pitching class a crapshoot or not. I believe that it is, and casting a wide net is the only viable alternative to signing a top tier pitcher.
      When you set the parameters as "can only pick from the bottom tier" its pretty easy to later defend the results.

      That doesnt address the real issue though: Why should the Twins only shop at discount stores?
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      in my eyes there are four general paths:

      1. Ryan failed last season, but succeeds next offseason by bargain hunting and helps build a contender.

      2. Ryan is (as you have argued) "happy" to keep losing big league games while we wait on prospects and has another failed offseason.

      3. Ryan doesn't like losing but is so principled against the kinds of trades and signings that bring significant and immediate help that we not only fail next offseason but generally do so for the rest of his tenure.
      Out of curiosity, is there a 4th one or did you just come up with 3??
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I have laid out my plan a good dozen times:

      1. Draft Appel-----he'd be in the rotation now, and be better than anyone they have. Yes, I said that at the time, before we knew Buxton would be this good, maybe.
      2. Sign Greinke or the next best pitcher, throw whatever money you have to at it, they have plenty.
      3. Call up Gibson day 1, not after he is "consistent".
      4. Flyer on a Pelfrey or Correia, but only as your 4th option, not your first option

      That's what I"ve typed, over and over, even though "no one ever says what they would do".

      Ryan failed, utterly, to make the team better in 2013. I don't know how that's even up for debate. I'm not sure why people feel that others should be accepting of this. I'm not sure why he gets a pass. How many years do they have to lose 90+ games before he is accountable? Putting aside the pitching, look at the lineup they've trotted out there. Awful. I get it, some people don't like it when people rip their favorite team. But this is the third year in a row where little has improved (or nothing) at the MLB level. I'm not sure why a fan (etimology, fanatic) should not be annoyed with this.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      Out of curiosity, is there a 4th one or did you just come up with 3??
      Maybe he dropped the 4th one..

      Moses: The Lord, the Lord Jehovah has given unto you these fifteen...
      [drops one of the tablets]
      Moses: Oy! Ten! Ten commandments for all to obey!
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I have laid out my plan a good dozen times:

      1. Draft Appel-----he'd be in the rotation now, and be better than anyone they have. Yes, I said that at the time, before we knew Buxton would be this good, maybe.
      2. Sign Greinke or the next best pitcher, throw whatever money you have to at it, they have plenty.
      3. Call up Gibson day 1, not after he is "consistent".
      4. Flyer on a Pelfrey or Correia, but only as your 4th option, not your first option

      That's what I"ve typed, over and over, even though "no one ever says what they would do".

      Ryan failed, utterly, to make the team better in 2013. I don't know how that's even up for debate. I'm not sure why people feel that others should be accepting of this. I'm not sure why he gets a pass. How many years do they have to lose 90+ games before he is accountable? Putting aside the pitching, look at the lineup they've trotted out there. Awful. I get it, some people don't like it when people rip their favorite team. But this is the third year in a row where little has improved (or nothing) at the MLB level. I'm not sure why a fan (etimology, fanatic) should not be annoyed with this.

      1. That is a huge leap to assume he would be up right now, much less effective.

      2. That is a fantasy. Those guys weren't coming to tbis franchise. I think Correia is a top 5 guy from the pool.

      3. That's fine but his nunbers would probably be Pelfrey-esque so little improvement.

      I appreciate the plan. Skeptical it could be executed or would have made much of a difference.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      And why do you assume everyone here is not annoyed by the performance of the team right now?
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      Out of curiosity, is there a 4th one or did you just come up with 3??
      There are 3 kinds of people in the world. Those who are good at math and those who aren't.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      This is more acknowledgement than usual. I don't pretend the griping wuld end with more concessions like this, but it would sure fix a lot of the repetitive debates. THere should be nothing but universl agreement Ryan failed his own goals last year, goals I would imagine we all shared at some level.

      IF we all started from here I think we'd have more mutual understanding of opposing views. we can agree to disagree and still find Ryan a fine GM. But the incessant apologizing for clear failures has to end. if this FA group was so bad, Ryan never should have set the goals he did, but there are other ways to think about it too. What is relevant is where do we go from here? in my eyes there are four general paths:

      1. Ryan failed last season, but succeeds next offseason by bargain hunting and helps build a contender.

      2. Ryan is (as you have argued) "happy" to keep losing big league games while we wait on prospects and has another failed offseason.

      3. Ryan doesn't like losing but is so principled against the kinds of trades and signings that bring significant and immediate help that we not only fail next offseason but generally do so for the rest of his tenure.
      I would absolutely agree that Ryan failed at achieving his goals. I would also respond by saying that every thing would have had to go about perfect for any kind of significant improvement in starting pitching performance.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      Out of curiosity, is there a 4th one or did you just come up with 3??
      My phone posted it when I hit enter to add the fourth one. Stupid technology! (Or my incompetence using it, whichever it is that is to blame)
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      And why do you assume everyone here is not annoyed by the performance of the team right now?
      Because there have been some that have even asserted the team is "happy" with where they are?

      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      I would absolutely agree that Ryan failed at achieving his goals. I would also respond by saying that every thing would have had to go about perfect for any kind of significant improvement in starting pitching performance.
      Really? Because I thought the vast majority of us thought upgrading the putrid performance of last year was going to be relatively easy? It was an awfully, awfully low bar afterall.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      Again, people are measuring TR's offseason against the ideal not against the possible.
      I'd argue you're setting a pretty low level of "possible". One much, much lower than Ryan himself seemed to set.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      Nobody expected Ryan to turn this rotation into the 2011 Phillies, but he could have made a better effort to bring them into respectability, instead of pinning his hopes on 4/5 guys coming off elbow surgery whose ceilings aren't very high to begin with.

      The Orioles did it in 2012. They signed a free agent in Wei-Yin Chen, brought Miguel Gonzalez in on a minor league deal. They traded for Tommy Hunter. Not all of those moves worked out (esp. Tommy Hunter as a starter), but Dan Duquette used all avenues and showed an aggressiveness that I don't think Jr has matched and didn't do any of it at the expense of the rebuilding effort (unless you count winning more games).

      Its actually pretty striking how closely the 2011 Orioles' rotation resembled the 2012 Twins' rotation.
      My main response to this is that Ryan dod use all avenues. He traded for three guys, signed two mlb free agents, and a couple of minor league guys.

      Obviously people wanted better mlb free agents but I personally don't think there were much better realistic options. The guys I wanted (McCarthy, Marcum) would have been worse.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by spycake View Post
      Chen was definitely a big piece for Baltimore, and is the type of quality free agent the Twins have not been able to land. There are potential great values on the international market, if the Twins were not completely soured by the Nishioka experience (or if that signing was not truly representative of the Twins international scouting abilities).
      Yeah, the scouting failed the strategy with Nishioka, I think. At least it was a serious and bold attempt to fix to a clear need. BS just picked the guy coming off a .400 BABIP-boosted batting title, and then compounded the mistake by dumping Hardy for prospects - perhaps, again, because of a failure in scouting.

      And in fairness, I'd say the same about the Worley trade. They just happened to trade a fairly established, young MLB talent for a guy with 2 mediocre fastballs and not much else. The concept of trading our CFer for starting pitching was a good one but looks more and more like a failure due to improper talent evaluation or scouting, and not necessarily the GM's lack of aggression.

      Speaking of Hardy though - it shows how you can trade prospects for MLB talent in "lost" seasons as part of your rebuild. At the time, JJ was only under contract through 2011, one season. That was a Dave Trombley move though, not Duquette.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Because there have been some that have even asserted the team is "happy" with where they are?



      Really? Because I thought the vast majority of us thought upgrading the putrid performance of last year was going to be relatively easy? It was an awfully, awfully low bar afterall.
      I should have said "vast majority" not "everyone". And I also think that "happy" comment was about the front office and directly contradicts what Ryan has said.

      Your second point is certainly valid I also thought the moves made would result in an upgrade. It still very easily could. Season isn't over yet.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      My phone posted it when I hit enter to add the fourth one. Stupid technology! (Or my incompetence using it, whichever it is that is to blame)
      In all honesty, I wasn't being snotty. I found your post interesting and though I may not agree with all of it, I also strongly believe that TR is in the 3rd camp. I'm not sure I want him to throw big dollars away in a deliberate fashion to convince me he's not but I sure would like more reassurance than we've gotten so far.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      My main response to this is that Ryan dod use all avenues. He traded for three guys, signed two mlb free agents, and a couple of minor league guys.

      Obviously people wanted better mlb free agents but I personally don't think there were much better realistic options. The guys I wanted (McCarthy, Marcum) would have been worse.
      I just don't buy that Ryan gave it 100% in either of the past offseasons. Where was he on Darvish or Iwakuma in 2011?

      Why didn't he get Saunders late last offseason? That was a debacle. Its like someone broke down the door on the eve of spring training and alerted him that they weren't ready to field a MLB rotation, and Ryan's response was "who's left, Saunders? Offer him a 1 year deal and no more."

      edit:
      http://www.1500espn.com/sportswire/S...ear_back012513
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      In all honesty, I wasn't being snotty. I found your post interesting and though I may not agree with all of it, I also strongly believe that TR is in the 3rd camp. I'm not sure I want him to throw big dollars away in a deliberate fashion to convince me he's not but I sure would like more reassurance than we've gotten so far.
      I was totally taking it tongue in cheek myself, I tried to edit it but apparently I was in a zone of satellite signal that would be ideal for amish people. (I really wanted that fourth one in there because I think it acknowledges people that disagree with me too, felt bad that I was misrepresenting what I thought was a fair argument)

      But rest assured sir, I edited it in and there is actually a fourth point. Now I don't look nearly so incapable of counting.
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