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Three Thursday Thoughts

1. There hasn't been a significant development on the Mark Teixeira front in over a week -- only a bunch of incremental ones about what teams WON'T do (the Red Sox won't go 10 years) or HAVEN'T done (the Yankees haven't made an offer yet) -- and if I'm reading this story correctly, at least one team hasn't even decided whether to raise its initial bid.

I take that to mean this thing could drag on for quite awhile -- maybe even past Teixeira's own soft deadline of Christmas. Another reason: If Scott Boras believes there is the slightest chance the Yankees could still jump into the bidding (assuming it's true they haven't yet), he will wait as long as it takes to make that happen.

As for the lack of hard information emerging about these negotiations, I attribute that largely to the fact Boras's M.O. typically is to negotiate directly with ownership when it comes to these major signings -- which serves several purposes, including limiting the number of talkative baseball executives with knowledge of the offers.

Jim Bowden isn't returning any calls or e-mails and hasn't been quoted anywhere in more than a week. When's the last time that's happened?

2. Tough winter for agent Paul Kinzer. First, he is reduced to accepting almost exactly half the contract he originally sought for closer Francisco Rodriguez -- he went public early on with the figure $75 million, and wound up getting $37 million from the Mets. Then, according to the Atlanta Braves, he reneged on a deal with them for shortstop Rafael Furcal. (Telling quote from Braves GM Frank Wren in this story: "That bridge is gone. I don't have to worry about burning it.)

3. Some commenters over on Nationals Journal are wondering if the Nationals would be better off losing out on Teixeira and using that money to sign both Adam Dunn and Orlando Hudson. First of all, we don't know that the Nationals would actually spend the Teixeira money elsewhere; they have indicated to me that they consider him a once-in-a-generation exception (because of his age and the unique package of attributes he brings) to their mantra of using free agency only to plug holes when the franchise is ready to contend. Second, we don't know that Dunn and Hudson could be had at the same price as Teixeira (I figure Dunn winds up getting around $13 million-$15 million per year and Hudson gets $10 million-$12 million per, so it would be close.)

But since folks have asked whether AD + OH > MT, let's consult the ultimate authority -- of course, I mean Bill James.

Here are Teixeira's win shares figures for the past five years, according to billjamesonline.net:

2004: 24
2005: 33
2006: 21
2007: 25
2008: 28

And here are the combined win shares for Dunn and Hudson over the same five years:

2004: 45 (29 for Dunn +16 for Hudson)
2005: 40 (25 + 15)
2006: 38 (18 + 20)
2007: 39 (18 + 21)
2008: 38 (21 + 17)

Of course, there are many variables that can't be factored into this equation -- such as predicting how Dunn's body will age over time, or how Hudson's injury history will come into play -- but based simply on these numbers, there's no question you'd rather have Dunn and Hudson.

By Dave Sheinin  |  December 18, 2008; 10:24 AM ET
 
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Next: Teixeira Timetable

Comments

Your comments point out an important public relations problem the Nats have with the Teixeira/other free agent situation.

I think it is safe to say that if Teixeira weren't available this year, the Nats participation in the free agent market would be limited - probably greater than last year, because the values are better - but I doubt they would be pursuing Dunn and Hudson. But now they've put some money on the table, and to their credit, they're probably no worse than number two in the negotiations for Teixeira. But if they don't get him, the fan base will be wanting the Nats to dump that $20mm a year somewhere, even if it doesn't fit "The Plan".

The fan reaction to the free agent market reminds me of taking the kids shopping. You give them $20, and they see the exercise as a failure unless they've spent every last penny.

By the way - Bowden did have public comments earlier this week in his online chat on nationals.com...

Posted by: wigi | December 18, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Well duh. Of course the win shares for two players should be greater than the win shares of one player. What needs to be looked at is the difference between the win shares of these players and the ones who they would replace.

Posted by: cbm91 | December 18, 2008 1:04 PM | Report abuse

There is another factor to consider. When/If Teixiera goes elsewhere, the Nats continue to be, well the Nats. Who is to say Dunn and Hudson WOULD come here?

Where as if Tex signed here, other free agents, this year and beyond would start to look at the Nats differently and take them more seriously.

Put a value on that saber-nerds.

Posted by: ryaneades | December 18, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Haha, sorry, didn't mean to call anyone names. Just think too many people get carried away with measureables.

Of course they have a place, but so do the intangibles.

It's why I like Acta who is a reasonable man that can use both to his advantage. Well, presumably if he had the talent on the roster, would use both to his advantage. :)

Posted by: ryaneades | December 18, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

The thing is, the Nats aren't trying to bring in Teixeira to win a few more games in 2009. That's an ancillary benefit. They're bringing him in as a major piece of a team they hope will contend in, say 2013.

Dunn and Hudson just don't make the same impact in that equation. They simply appease the fan base - as wigi points out - and serve to make the team less terrible in 2009.

Posted by: JohninMpls | December 18, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

The key factor in signing Dunn vs Teixeira is that is gives you flexibility. A line-up with a healthy Nick Johnson and Adam Dunn (and Dukes and Millege or Willingham filling in the outfield) might actually be better (for '09) than one with just Teixeira.

If/when Johnson is hurt then Dunn would move to 1B, Willingham would be at LF and Milledge and Dukes would round out the outfield.

If we do get Teixeira we'll need to move Nick Johson, but we probably won't have an outfielder to sell (unless you count on Pena) since you'll have Willingham/Millege/Dukes in the OF and Kearns off the bench. Maybe they would then want to trade Willingham or Milledge to make room on the roster, but with Dukes, Milledge and Kearns injury history last year I don't think going into '09 with 4 "starting" OFers is a bad idea.

Posted by: estuartj | December 18, 2008 2:07 PM | Report abuse

One optimistic thought:

If Teixeira's going to sign in Boston, why hasn't he done so already?

They have an eight-year offer on the table at the highest dollar amount. Boras wants him to go to Boston because that leaves more options for Manny. If the Nats and Angels are at 8/160 and the Sawx offer is better than that, doesn't Boras simply go to the Nats and the Angels and say unless you increase your offer, he's going to Boston? How long does that take?

We don't have all the facts. Could the secretive Lerners have matched Boston's offer, leaving Teixeira mulling over whether to join a contender or lead a young team closer to home?

Posted by: BobLHead | December 18, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

BobL:

I think the speculation is whether the pause draws the Yankees into the mix.

Posted by: wigi | December 18, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I know, Wigi, but I was trying to be optimistic. More likely the Yanks have said that they need to fill one more rotation spot before deciding whether they're in the mix for Tex and Manny. We seem to have quite the roadblock here.

Posted by: BobLHead | December 18, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

On the other hand, John Heyman just posted the following:

"One source said he believed that Boston was in for close to $180 million over eight years and the Angels in for about the same. The Nats may be as high, or even higher than that. Some suggest they have either hit the $200 million mark, or gotten very close. Or that someone else has."

Maybe I should remain optimistic after all.

Posted by: BobLHead | December 18, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Flawed logic: Teixeira only plays one position, so you have to add his win shares to whoever plays second base before you compare win shares with Dunn/Hudson. And you have to figure in VORP on that player as well. And for that matter you have to buy into the concept that win shares is a valid measure. Its an interesting measure, but I'm not convinced it acurately separates the value of an indivdual player from the rest of his team.

Posted by: natbisquit | December 18, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Just to fill in the missing bit of the puzzle, using Hardball Times win shares for Nats 2d basemen:

2005 - Vidro 11, Caroll 9, rest 7 = 27
2006 - Vidro 11, M. Anderson 5, rest 1 = 17
2007 - Belliard 16 = 16
2008 - Belli! 12, Anderson H. 4, FLop 2 = 18

So we've been averaging about 16 a year except 2005.

There is also a stat "Win Shares Above Bench" that's pretty revealing. Compares what a player produced in his playing time v. what a prototypical bench player would produce (i.e., 75% of average for the postion). For 2008, Hooray Belli! (6) Nice Anderson H.! (3) Not so much, Boni (-2) And you wonder why we called him FLop (-5). With Felipe getting 622 innings and Boni 325 out of a total of 1400 - 1500 innings, is it a wonder we were plucking our eyes out at times?

This begs the question - why is it again that Belliard should not be part of a platoon at second with SuperWillie or perhaps Anderson H if his short samples of Nats play and winter ball hold up? Not to overmanage, but SuperWillieBelli with Alberto Anderson as a backup MI/defensive replacement probably optimizes the talent we have.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | December 19, 2008 5:28 AM | Report abuse

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