It’s not often you get a window into what baseball executives truly believe to be true. Is ARod overpaid? Would you rather draft a low floor college positional player or a high ceiling high school pitcher? How frequently do you like to give out no-trade clauses?

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick took an anonymous survey of baseball execs recently, and came up with some surprising and interesting results. The article is worth a read, but here are the high points:

  • Prince Fielder will provide more value over the life of his next contract than will Albert Pujols. Fielder overwhelmingly was the choice (20 to 3, with 5 undecided), presumably because of the four and a half year age difference between the two. I would imagine the prevailing belief that Pujols will get 8 to 10 years, while Fielder will get 6 to 7, also played a role.
  • The Boston Red Sox’s managerial job presents a much tougher challenge than that of the Cubs or Cardinals. Again, the choice was overwhelming (20 for Red Sox, 5 for Cardinals, and just 3 for the Cubs), primarily because of the disastrous 2011 and high expectations for 2012.
  • Mark Buehrle will perform better over the course of his next contract than will CJ Wilson. Buehrle got 14 votes to Wilson’s 8, and that seems like a head-scratcher to me. Were the question one of value, and the belief was that Buerhle were going to earn – for example – only half of what Wilson will get, then I could understand it. But, assuming Buehrle gets four years, and Wilson five, I’d wager Wilson’s next five years are more productive than Buehrle’s next four. Sure, Buehrle is as consistent as they get – but he’s consistently good, not great. Wilson could be great for three or four of the next five years.
  • Executives would rather have Tampa Bay youngster, Matt Moore, than Washington stud, Stephen Strasburg. The votes were close – 13 to 12 – but Moore got the slight edge, presumably because he throws lefty, and didn’t just have Tommy John surgery. Japanese ace Yu Darvish was the third player in the question, but got no votes. Still, every single executive said they’d be thrilled to have any of the three, including Darvish.
  • The other questions, which didn’t really touch on issues of direct import to the Cubs, demonstrated (1) execs think Carl Crawford is more likely to bounce back than Adam Dunn or Jayson Werth, (2) the Red Sox are more likely to make the playoffs than the Braves, and (3) Joe Nathan is slightly more likely to return to elite closer status than Francisco Rodriguez.
  • pfk

    Brett: “I’d wager Wilson’s next five years are more productive than Buehrle’s next four.”

    Officer: “I’m sorry mister, you don’t have a State of Illinois gambling license, Come with me.”

    • Brett

      Don’t forget the unregistered handgun.

  • Jeff

    I think I disagree with you on the CJ/Buehrle comparison, Brett.  Buehrle is a consistent, left handed pitcher, who pitches 200+ innings every year, with an ERA right around and mostly below 4 runs in the AL.  I know there is a chance he’s going to develop Tom Glavine syndrome and he’s going to stink when he leaves the Sox, but I think he’s an excellent pitcher and would be a better addition for the Cubs than CJ Wilson.  I also think that you have to factor in the money and years when comparing the two, even if the poll didn’t specify.  Buerhle is cheaper, more reliable, and I’m just not convinced that CJ Wilson is a #1 starter, and it looks more and more like he’s going to get #1 starter type money.

    • Brett

      I also think that you have to factor in the money and years when comparing the two, even if the poll didn’t specify

      But that’s exactly the issue: the poll didn’t say that. If you take the contract out of it, whom would you rather have: Buehrle for the next four years, or Wilson for the next five? I think reasonable minds can differ, but I’m taking Wilson.

      • Jeff

        If there’s no money involved, you are right.  Wilson is the more attractive candidate.  The thing is, we are both “thinking” guys, and there are a lot of them on this site as well.   You can’t just ask us if we want Buehrle or Wilson, or ask us if we want Pujols or Fielder.  You have to give context, and if you don’t give it to us, we start making our own context.  With just asking who I’d rather have pitching for the Cubs right now, regardless, I would probably give a different answer everyday of the week.  If you ask me who makes the most sense as a Cubs pitcher for the next four seasons, contract and track record included, I would probably say Buerhle, but I can see why some would say Wilson, the guy has good stuff.  I am just weary of his durability and pitching history, and his delivery scares me a bit.

        • Brett

          I’ll be very interested to see what kind of contract each of them actually end up getting. The “buzz” has teams backing away from Wilson, and backing up the truck to Buehrle. I don’t think Buehrle will overtake Wilson, obviously, but it’s starting to look less crazy that they might be in the same ballpark (within a year or two and within a few million in average annual value).

    • hardtop

      im with you jeff, but not because he’s cheaper.  buehrle is a proven winner and cj wilson is an impossibly over-rated wiener.  i think wilson is on the decline personally.  nothing to support that other than what ive seen.

  • poopypants mcgee

    I believe Buehrle would be the better signing just due to the fact that we could sign him for four years. I cant imagine each pitcher outpreforming one another significantly over the next few years so signing the pitcher that is demanding one less year and less money seems logical.

    I personally believe Buehrle brings more leadership than Wilson as well. We will need a verteran prescense after Dempster is gone. Looking at 2013, if signing Buehrle, we would have him and Garza as our seasoned vets leading the rotation. Does Wells remain in the rotation? What about Cashner? Will McNutt be ready? Will Dempster be resigned? That starting rotation is going to be a huge question mark come 2013, but having Buehrle a part of the equation makes me feel a little more comfortable.

    plus it will piss off sox fans which is always good.

    • Brett

      These are all good points, but I think it again bears noting: the question was not whom would you rather sign to the deal they’re likely to get. The question is who is likely to be the better pitcher over the life of their next deal – that means, simply, who’s going to be the better pitcher over the next four/five years. The fact that Wilson is going to get more money/years than Buehrle kind of belies the executives’ response. If they really believed Buehrle was going to be the better pitcher, regardless of contract, he’d get the bigger contract.

  • MrCub73

    I don’t see Buehrle as a better option that Wilson, if money is taken from the equation. Buehrle is a good middle to end of the rotation guy, but he gives up a ton of hits and has a low strike out rate. If age takes away any of his stuff, that seems to trend to more hits allowed and less K’s, which in my book translates into a higher ERA and less innings pitched. To his benefit, he does have very good control that will help keep him out of trouble. Maybe Buehrle is the next Jamie Moyer, the guy who goes out and takes the ball for the next 10 or more years while putting up about the same numbers he always has. The fact the Buehrle is just as likely to put up numbers like he did in 2006 as he did in 2005 worries me a little. Wilson’s apparent upside over the next four or five seems a lot higher than Buehrle, just a quick look at his numbers and the park he pitched in, plus his numbers are trending to the positive. Either one is far better than any one other than Garza, so I will be happy with either in reality, but since the Cubs are in serious need of pitching, I will take both.

  • Todd

    When taking into account possible contract terms, people are over-estimating Buerle’s value. This is especially true when comparing Buerle and Wilson. Brett, I think you’re correct about how similar the two contracts will end up being. I would go so far as to say, the average annual value will be the same, with Wilson getting an extra year, maybe two. I think the value is going to be found in Yu Darvish, and if he’s posted, he will be the Cubs’ big free-agent signing this off-season.