Thursday, January 13, 2011

Quick Hit: I'm fer it!

About an hour and a half ago, MLBTR linked a report from ESPN's Jerry Crasnick that Eric Chavez worked out for the Toronto Blue Jays.

I like it!

It's true that Chavez has been made of Nick Johnson the last 4 seasons, so it would be a bit of "lightning in a bottle" to get anything above average from him - but on what would necessarily be a very low guarantee contract loaded up with incentives, how could you not give it a try if he LOOKS healthy.

The report quoted one observer as saying "he's moving around pretty well" and the odds are someone will give him a chance to make it through spring training. The one thing that might put the Jays behind other interested teams is whether or not his injury is the sort that turf mght aggravate - or that he might worry turf would aggravate.

I, for one, would love to the the Jays take a chance on him though, if by some miricale he got back to hitting as he once did, even if his once-excellent defense is compromised, he'd be a very valuable player in the line-up.

On another note, Vernon Wells gave an interview to Richard Griffin which has provoked a variety of opinion around the blogoshpere related to his contract (as usual) - particularly when he admitted that he couldn't ever be worth the amount of his contract.

There's several things I'd like to say about the interview and the reaction but I'll try to be terse (for me) for lack of time.

First, I've argued before, and maintain, that within the context of the market at the time, and Wells' production to that point, that the Wells contract was not actually insane as it is often referred to. No one could have known how very badly injuries would impact two of the next three seasons, and certainly no one in baseball was making plans for a major economic recession to alter the market (albeit temporarily). The last previous times the Jays tried to anticipate the results of future events, they misread the post-strike market and therefore lost Robert Alomar and Devo among others.

Second, the above said, it's a perfectly reasonable thing to suggest that making what was in reality an 8 year commitment to Wells wasn't the smartest move - precisely because you magnify the impact of the variables (like injury) and the likelihood that some event will rob the player of value. It's never great to make that long a commitment unless you are getting BELOW market value. The problem with Wells deal was not that it was so big, in the abstract, but that it was a long commitment AT market rather than BELOW market that made it unwise.

Third, Wells, Griffin, and most commentators refer to whether or not he was "worth it" by only talking about the $107 million in the last five years of that commitment and forgetting how little was spent in the first three (yes I know it was a seven year contract, but it started after the 2007 season which was already under contract at an excellent value. Thus, they were contractually committed to 8 seasons). The AAV for those 8 seasons is $16.45 and when you ask "Is Wells worth his contract?" it's THAT figure that's operative, not $21 million. That's not to argue he's worth $16 either, but it's a much more reasonable target.

Fourth, I argued previously that market escalation would make Wells pay of $21 million annually much less remarkable at the end of the contract - which I think was easily demonstrated. When the recession stalled that inflation for a year, that assertion seemed to be in jeopardy, but deals like the ones given to Carl Crawford and especially Jayson Werth have established that that one year was nothing but a blip. So when you are sitting in your room a couple of years from now contemplating whether or not Wells is worth an AAV of $16.45 million, you can at least take comfort in looking at how many players are pulling down an AAV even higher than that, and how few of them can be said to be "worth it." The Jays' gamble was that as Wells' production declined with age, the market would escalate so that the back-loaded deal still looked reasonable at the end. While the gap does not close entirely, the curve DOES exist.

Fifth and finally, in some quarters Wells' acknowledgment of reality was seen as possible complacency. I did not read it as such. Wells certainly signed the deal in good faith (whatever his "maturity level" at the time might have been) and he certainly tells himself (not unjustly) that he'd have been playing up to the deal all along but for injuries which were not really his fault. I think his comment acknowledge that WE as outside observers think his contract pays him more than the value he produces on the field, but I do not think he thinks he's "overpaid" in any extent beyond acknowledging the obvious reality that ALL major league veterans of any real talent are overpaid. If he'd been ask if Doc Halladay was overpaid, then in that context, I'm sure he could have said "Yeah, we all are." I rather took his remarks to (laudably) recognize that the only way to redeem that excess of pay that is common to people in his world is to give back from that largess to those who need help - which he has done far and above almost all his peers.

Wells contract is what it is. And if Alex and Paul are to be believed, the ownership is perfectly willing to spend whatever it needs to spend so it's not a hindrance to team building, so why in the hell are we still talking about it? If and when Wells comes out publically and says - as George Bell once did - I'm not changing positions no matter what" when clearly he needs to, THEN we can talk about him hurting the team.

1 comment:

Mylegacy said...

Being a has been myself - well past sale by date - I'd like to see Chavez get a look with the Jays. IF he's cheap - what's to lose, eh?

As to Wells - Mr Hot & Cold - who really has any idea of what he's gonna do. All I know is that when hot - he's a keeper. If only we could find someway to keep a perpetual fire under his butt!