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Posts Tagged ‘San Diego Padres’

Last night, San Francisco Gianst lefty Jonathan Sanchez became the first Giants pitcher since 1976 to throw a no-no.

Some fun facts about the game:

  • It was almost a perfect game.  An error by Juan Uribe in the eighth produced the only base runner for the Padres.
  • It was the seventh time in MLB history that a game would have been perfect if not for an error.
  • Sanchez took Randy Johnson’s spot in the rotation, who coincidently is the last pitcher to throw a perfect game.
  • Everth Cabrera, the last batter of the game squared to bunt, prompting boos from the crowd, before striking out.
  • Sanchez also struck out a career-high eleven, so it was an all-around dominating performance. 

This goes back to my topic earlier this week about mediocre pitchers putting together dominating performances.  Sanchez certainly fits the bill, as he owns a career ERA of 5.07.  Just goes to show you that anything can happen in baseball.

A fellow blogger over at MLB Babble had an interesting take on the game.  While some would argue that Sanchez was in fact perfect because he did not personally allow a baserunner, he argues that Uribe’s error changed the dynamics of the game, and things may have gone differently over the rest of the game.  I would agree. For example, he no longer had to worry about not walking any batters for fear of breaking the perfect game, which allowed him to keep more balls out of the strike zone.  For more details, check out his article.

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A couple of days ago I wrote an article for Inside The Majors discussing the future of Albert Pujols in St. Louis.  As much as Cards fans hate to admit it, the end of the 2011 season is quickly approaching and Pujols could be gone.  While I covered all of the factors that affect the Cardinals, I did not discuss in depth something that applies to every Major League club.

“The other big question is whether it is even worth it for a team to spend 25-30% of their budget on one player, but that is a story for another day.”

That day has come.  While it is very rare for a player to make more than 25% of a team’s total payroll, it could be the reality in St. Louis, with Pujols eating $25 million out of approximately a $100 million payroll.  I want to look at the success rate of teams where they have a player who takes up more than 20% of the team’s financial resources.  After examining the numbers from 2006-2008, I lowered my threshold to 18%, still very high, to get a larger sample size of data.  All salary information is from USA Today, and these were my discoveries:

Over the last three years there have been eighteen occasions where a single player has made up over 18% of a team’s total salary.

20082008 25%

 

  

  

  

  

  

 

2007

2007 25%

 

  

 

 

 2006

2006 25%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, these teams as a whole have not been very successful, with an overall record of 1398-1517 for a winning percentage of .480.  The only playoff clubs among the group are the 2007 Rockies, and the 2006 Tigers, A’s and Padres.  That means 22% of these clubs have made the playoffs, while the rest of the teams in the league made the playoffs at a 28% clip.  Not a huge drop off, but significant enough.

There is also a lot of repetition among the teams, with the Rockies appearing all three years, the Royals with three players in two years, and the A’s, Marlins, Pirates and Giants all making two appearances each.  Other than the Giants, these are all small-budget teams, and it does not take much to eat up 20% of their payroll.  You will never see a Yankee make 20% of the team’s salary simply because the denominator of $200M is way too big.  On the other end of the spectrum, Willis ate up 29% of the Marlins salary in 2006 while only making $4.35M

So far, I have shown that these eighteen teams have performed below the major-league average in terms of winning percentage in playoff appearances.  However, what I have failed to mention is the total payrolls of these teams.  If you sort all of the MLB teams by total payroll each year and rank them, the eighteen teams on this list rank an average of twenty-two.  The 2006 teams are an average of $16M below league average, the 2007 teams are 20$ million under, and the 2008 squads are a whopping $31 million under the league average.  Only three of them ( ’06 Giants, Astros and Tigers) are in the top half, and thirteen out of eighteen are in the bottom third.  These teams are actually quite successful considering their financial limitations.  If you were to tell me I could run a team for $20 million less than the average but only have a 6% chance less of making the playoffs, I think I would take you up on the offer.

I honestly thought going into this that I would discover that it would almost without fail be disastrous to have one player take up a huge chunk of your payroll.  There are occasions where this is true, most notably the 2008 Royals who spent 40% of their money on Meche and Guillen, two barely above average players.  However, it is also very possible for these small market teams with one high-paid star, like Todd Helton, to succeed.

After my analysis, the original point from my Inside the Majors article stands.  John Mozeliak, get Pujols locked up.  If there is one player that is worth of that much money and such a large percentage of your payroll, it is him.    

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As most people know, the MLB draft is quite different than those of the other major sports.  The NBA and NHL both have draft lotteries rather than basing the draft order strictly on the standings.  The NFL and NHL drafts are full of trades, and this is the topic that I would like to focus on.

The first reason for allowing the trade of draft picks is competitive balance.  Signability should not be an issue when bottom-feeding teams are trying to rebuild through the draft.  Signing bonuses have gotten to the point where small market teams cannot afford to draft the best player available when it is their turn to draft.  A prime example of this is when Matt Bush was drafted first overall by the San Diego Padres.  The hometown kid was selected not because he was the best talent available, but because the Padres knew they would be able to sign him.  This left talents like Justin Verlander, Philip Humber and Stephen Drew on the table for other teams.  Bush was a complete wash-out as a short stop and tried to convert to pitching before legal problems ended his baseball career.

Breakings News: Strasburg To The Yankees

Breakings News: Strasburg To The Yankees

This year, Stephen Strasburg is the can’t-miss prospect of a lifetime.  Unable to trade the pick, the Nationals are going to have to cave to the contract demands of agent Scott Boras.  Even a prospect like Strasburg is not without risk, and the Nationals could be sinking a lot of money into a failed investment.  They cannot even draft and trade him, as teams must wait one year to trade any player they have drafted.  Is this the ideal situation for the Nationals? Of course not.  I think the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox would give the Nats a king’s ransom for the right to draft Strasburg.  This package of prospects would help the Nationals rebuild their 21st ranked farm system, and would also make sense financially.

The second reason is entertainment and exposure.  The MLB draft does not get nearly as much exposure as the other leagues, mainly in part because the players will not become immediate stars in the big leagues.  There are no Lebron James or Sidney Crosby’s.  Imagine the popularity of a draft where the Yankees made a draft day trade with the Nationals, and Strasburg became a part of the Evil Empire.  It is entirely possible that this would make the Internet explode. 

Baseball would benefit from the increased exposure of the new draft.  The Canadian media is having a field day penning articles regarding whether or not the Toronto Maple Leafs will be able to pry the second overall pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning in order to draft Ontario Hockey League superstar John Tavares.  The same would happen in baseball. 

It would also give small-budget teams the opportunity to make educated decisions regarding what is best for their franchise.  They could make a trade to benefit their team now or build the farm system, rather than being forced to draft a top talent that they have to make an immediate multi-millionaire. 

I know this is something we will probably never see, but it is always fun to imagine.

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