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- It’s the ongoing question with the arrival of Joe Maddon: how much is a manager really worth? (The latest iteration comes from Tony Andracki, who just wrote an interesting piece about it over at CSN.) We’re simply not going to have an answer right now. Indeed, The Wife asked me yesterday why Maddon was worth five times as much, in salary, compared to Rick Renteria. My honest answer was, “I don’t know that folks who don’t actually work with these guys on a daily basis can intelligently answer that question right now.” But we know that the folks who do work with Maddon and who have been in the game and seen his impact believe he’s easily worth his $5 million salary. The sabermetrics in this area are obviously underdeveloped, but I think folks are taking the wrong tack. I hear folks say that studies indicates managers might be worth, at most, two wins (or two losses) in a given season. My gut says it’s far more than that, but even if it’s just a -2 to +2 swing, that’s HUGE. Four games? When teams are paying $6 to $7 million per win in free agency?
- From a pure baseball perspective, as opposed to a Cubs fan perspective, that might be the biggest reason I’m excited about the Cubs getting Maddon: I want to see and evaluate (as best possible) with my own eyes and mind how valuable I perceive the change to Maddon to be. I hope it’s something we can discuss intelligently throughout the year, as a separate discussion from the in-game managerial things we’ll inevitably discuss in a very specific way. (“Why did he bunnnnntttttttttt!?!?!?”) We still may not be able to quantify the value – I really did appreciate the way Theo Epstein talked about this question earlier in the week – but we’ll likely start to have a real sense of it.
- A fantastic thought experiment at FanGraphs: would the Angels be better off if they traded Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton to another team … for nothing? The idea embedded in the question is that the negative value of Pujols’ and Hamilton’s contracts from here on out could outweigh the huge surplus value in Trout’s contract. They don’t quite match up, and the Angels are better off keeping the three, but in a year, that might not be the case anymore. Which is just crazy, and underscores the inherent ugliness of big-time free agent contracts (and the need for ALL teams to have cost-controlled young talent).
- An interesting and thought-provoking look at a variety of baseball issues from Ken Arneson. Among his thoughts: we don’t give nearly enough attention to the importance of pitch sequencing, and having different types of hitters – including, for example, bad ball hitters – is good for a lineup because it protects against different kinds of pitchers. Very interesting stuff in there.
- When you see “TMZ reports” and “Starlin Castro” in the same headline, you will probably – as I did – pass out momentarily. But, be relieved. In this instance, all that TMZ is reporting is that Castro tricked out an ATV. Be careful with that thing, Starlin, but, otherwise, it’s as benign as it gets on TMZ.
- Peter Gammons expresses a not-unfounded concern that with large-market teams like the Dodgers and Cubs going all-in on their front offices, small market teams once again lose an opportunity to stay competitive long-term.
- The Yankees are starting to spend big (relatively speaking) in yet another area: minor league free agent deals.
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