Buyers Or Sellers – Why Choose?

Dave · July 21, 2006 at 12:08 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

The non-waiver trading deadline is now 10 days away. Teams have a week and a half to reshape their rosters, either for the stretch run, or for next year and beyond. The trading deadline is an annual exercise in hype with a lackluster payoff, as I don’t remember the last time the deadline came and went when we had a flurry of deals that could actually be classified as exciting.

The local angle, of course, is that the Mariners have 10 days to decide whether to be buyers or sellers. They’re only 5 games out of first place in a division where no one looks particularly good, and despite the recent losing road trip, they played highly competitive baseball with two of the better teams in the American League. Fans have set through several miserable seasons, and the team is wary of throwing in the towel on what still has the potential to be an exciting September that might just draw them back to Safeco Field.

The counter argument is pretty obvious, however. While the team is still not out of the race, they’re still in last place, trailing three teams, and are just 4-10 in July. They also have the toughest remaining schedule of any AL West team, playing Boston, Cleveland, and Toronto before they have to decide what to do with the roster. Considering the opponents, its unlikely the team goes on a 8-1 or 7-2 run that would catapult them right back into the thick of things, so the odds are that this team is sitting in a similar or worse position when the deadline rolls around.

Thus, Bill Bavasi and company are looking at having to decide to add players to a team in last place or remove players from a team within striking distance of a division title. The big question in the front office the next 10 days will be “buyers or sellers?”

In my opinion, this is a great chance for the Mariners to show some creativity for the first team in, well, ever, and steal a page from Billy Beane’s playbook. Don’t choose – be both buyers and sellers.

The team is too close to the division title to waive the white flag, and for all our opinions on the relative strengths of the teams in the division, absolutely anything can happen in a two month stretch of baseball. However, the team also has a strong core to build around, and the last thing the organization needs to be doing is to remove players from the roster who could be substantial parts of the ballclub in 2007. So, instead of taking the normal route of either unloading players or picking up marginal improvements at the cost of young talent, I suggest that the Mariners spend the next ten days rebuilding the guys around the core by both shipping out current players from the roster and bringing in new faces to help contribute right away.

I’d define the core group of players, who I’m not interested in moving, as Felix, Ichiro, Lopez, Betancourt, Johjima, Jones, Clement, Putz, Soriano, and Lowe. I also am willing to accept the fact that the Mariners will never trade Raul Ibanez, so he’s included in the core by default. He’s just not getting moved while the current management structure is in place.

That means I’m willing to move significant talent off the major league roster. Gil Meche, George Sherrill, Jeremy Reed, Adrian Beltre, and Richie Sexson will all draw interest from different ballclubs. However, the goal is not to simply unload these guys (well, not all of them, anyways), but to use their value (and some of the non-essentially minor league guys) to acquire players who fit the team’s needs down the stretch and next season. Easier said than done? Probably. It would take an epic series of moves and a willingness to change up a roster in mid-season, but in the end, I think the team could be better both now and going forward, if they’re willing to take a few chances. And yes, this is almost all 100% speculation. I’ve heard some backdoor rumblings about potential matches for some of our players, but don’t take any of this as legitimate possibilities.

Step 1: Send Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo, and Julio Mateo to San Diego for Ryan Klesko and Dave Roberts.

Step 2: Send Richie Sexson to San Francisco for Todd Linden and Steve Finley.

Step 3: Send Gil Meche and George Sherrill to the Atlanta Braves for Wilson Betemit

Step 4: Send Wladimir Balentien, Yung-Chi Chen, and Cesar Jimenez to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Sean Casey and Kip Wells

This would leave the M’s with the following line-up for the rest of 2006:

1. Ichiro, RF
2. Lopez, 2B
3. Ibanez, LF/DH
4. Betemit, 3B
5. Casey, 1B
6. Johjima, C
7. Snelling, LF/DH
8. Betancourt, SS
9. Roberts, CF

The bench would consist of Finley, Bloomquist, Perez, Quiroz, and Linden holding the job until Klesko gets healthy. Everett would be released, and Rivera and Jones would be returned to the minors.

The rotation would be Felix-Moyer-Washburn-Wells-Pineiro. The bullpen would be Putz-Soriano-Lowe-Cruceta-Fruto-Woods, and if Cruceta pitched well (read: threw strikes) out of the pen, he’d take Pineiro’s spot in the rotation.

This team isn’t significantly better than what the M’s are putting on the field right now. You could argue that they’re a little bit worse. Casey/Betemit are an improvement over what we’ve gotten from Sexson/Beltre, but the dropoff from Meche to Kip Wells is pretty staggering. The pitching is certainly worse, and Hargrove would hate a bullpen with only one lefty, but the offense would be significantly improved. Overall, I think the new roster would be about as competitive, if different in character, than the current roster.

So why make the moves? Financial freedom. At the end of the season, you’d lose the contracts of Sean Casey ($9 million), Steve Finley ($8 million), and Ryan Klesko ($10.5 million), who you essentially swapped out Beltre and Sexson’s deals for. That’s $27 million you wouldn’t have had available to play with had you kept the status quo. $27 million buys a lot of talent.

In the process, you’ve acquired a guy who you think can be your third baseman for the next several years and a stop-gap center fielder to allow Adam Jones to return to Tacoma.

Looking ahead to ’07, you’d have a complete offense minus first base, which is the easiest position in baseball to find a competant role player. Depending on what you wanted to do with Reed/Jones in center, you could try to retain Roberts or pick up another veteran CF to hold the job a bit longer, but that shouldn’t cost much money.

You’d have a rotation of Felix-Washburn-three holes, and a bullpen that lacked a lefty setup guy. But once you remove the salaries of Moyer, Everett, Pineiro, and Wells, in addition to the $27 million you saved by letting Klesko, Finley, and Casey walk, you’re staring at about $40-$45 million in available cash to fill out the pitching staff.

$40 to $45 million. I’m pretty sure the M’s could find three starting pitchers, a first baseman, and a lefty setup guy for $40 million.

It would take a bold series of moves to reshape the roster that dramatically, but this team is capable of making transactions that would both avoid waiving the white flag in 2006 and still allowing them to improve their chances of contending in 2007 and beyond.


165 Responses to “Buyers Or Sellers – Why Choose?”

  1. eponymous coward on July 22nd, 2006 11:10 am

    My problem with Dave’s plan is that basically, we trade Beltre and Sexson’s contracts for Schmidt and Matsuzaka’s.

    I’m not sold that this represents a lesser risk of underperformance, considering that Schmidt’s 34 and the J Leagues are pretty hard on their pitchers. The downside risk is still pretty high that you end up changing the uniform numbers on your overpaid players- and Beltre seems, to me, at least, a decent candidate to bust out.

    I vote for revamping the park and using the Piñeiro/Eddie/Meche money as the source for impriving the pitching (and having to pick lesser but younger candidates, though Schmidt might be oon there, too)- though I’d be open to swapping Sexson out.

  2. John in L.A. on July 22nd, 2006 11:18 am

    Clayton’s may be the smartest comments I’ve read on the issue outside of this site.

    I did not know that SafeCo was the only new park that hadn’t tweaked its dimensions. Apologies if someone pointed it out here and I missed it.

    A few mixed responses about Beltre.

    1. I think it’s folly to assume that Beltre couldn’t benefit from an a-list psychologist. I pointed out a couple things I think are indicitive of someone who has problems not directly related to talent, and at the very least, I don’t think it could hurt.

    Especially in April, the way he was diving away from high and inside and the way his feet did the anxious dance when he laid off a pitch he really wanted to swing at point to a guy who is not psychologically comfortable with that little white ball coming.

    I’m not suggesting it’s a panacea, I’m suggesting that I have NO FRIGGIN idea what the issues are Beltre. I don’t think it’s one thing.

    I thnk SafeCo is, perhaps, the BIGGEST issue with him, but it’s not alone. April proved that.

    Belte and Sexson are two different cases. Sexson looks like he always has, it just isn’t working right now. Beltre looks like completely different hitters. In April he looked like a little leaguer, with a different swing, a different approach, different everything.

    If the season had started in May, Beltre’s #’s would look like: .281 .329 .459. Not great, but signifigantly less stinky.

    I’m not suggesting we drop April to make Beltre look good, I’m suggesting that the dude is a scizophrenic. And to trade him based on his April or even overall numbers, to me, is not a good idea. He is a very valuable player in the NL, hell, anywhere else.

    Just fix the park.

    “It was a gamble when he was signed, he won’t pay off, and the team would be vastly better with another guy making much, much less.”

    Vastly? An irreplacable defensive 3rd baseman batting for months now at around an .800 OPS clip?

    Do better? Sure. Though I bet you couldn’t do better at all if they fixed the park a bit.

    But vastly? Nah.

  3. Rick L on July 22nd, 2006 11:49 am

    My concern is making all these deals for National League players. We have seen enough guys who had good numbers in the National League become busts in the AL. How did these guys do in interleague play?

  4. eponymous coward on July 22nd, 2006 12:05 pm

    You mean like Bret Boone? Or Richie Sexson last year? Or Mike Cameron in 2000?

    For THE LOVE OF GOD, quit saying “NL players become busts in the AL”. It’s not true.

  5. terry on July 22nd, 2006 1:37 pm

    #149: But I used a haiku………

  6. terry on July 22nd, 2006 1:40 pm

    #151: the beauty of dave’s plan is it rids the team of the *bad* contracts and frees up money for free agents next year…

    The problem with Dave’s plan is it frees up money for free agents 🙂

  7. BelaXadux on July 22nd, 2006 8:52 pm

    ” . . . There’s no person on planet earth who ‘knows’ what Adrian Beltre is going to hit like for the next week, month, year, or his career . . . There’s also no reason to believe that the light has no chance of coming on.”

    Well, given Adrian’s extreme streakiness, anyone trying to predict his results for the next week or month is a fool, and I wouldn’t try. However, he’s been really quite consistent in a fairly narrow band of aggregate performance for his career outside of the 2004 outlier. And that performance matches very well with his approach at the plate. Accordingly, he is, to me, one of the guys most easily pegged for year end results and career path.

    There is every reason, absolutely every reason, to believe that the light is _never_ going to come on for Adrian Beltre. After watching him for a year and a half, I’d have to say he’s one of the most stubborn hitters I’ve ever seen, easily in my Top Ten, and well up the list. He takes that great big lick whether the ball is down and in—in which case, a worm-burner to the left side—at his letters—in which case, he fouls it back—or up and away—in which case, swing-and-a-miss. If he gets in a bad streak, he can be persuaded to lay off the pitch down and away most of the time, but as soon as he hits a run of making contact he loses discipline on that pitch, too. As one example, Jeff Pentland was quoted in the paper back in early June saying, in close paraphrase, I can’t get Adrian to lay off the high pitch, the one that usually isn’t called a strike, so I’m going to try and teach him how to hit it. [Translation: I give up, but it’s my job to work with the guy.] Pentland also said Adrian listened well, was very patient, seemed open to what was being said, etc., etc., you know, not an attitude problem. —And then, as we see, Adrian goes to the plate and forgets everything that was discussed and hits exactly like he has since the minor leagues. The only adjustment I have ever seen him make is to lay off the pitch down and away when he’s going bad, for awhile.

    Forget about Adrian’s April; it’s only tangentially related to who he is as a hitter since he was entirely and totally messed up. Of course ‘he looks different’ since April, ’cause nobody including him looks that bad on a regular basis. Looking forward in ’06: In May, no power, not much contact, cautiously working walks to get more pitches to hit. In June, good contact with that vicious line drive swing, getting some multi-hit games, and bunches of doubles with some HRs; mostly against inferior pitching and away from Safeco in the NL, however. In July, having lost plate discipline, he’s lost contact with the pitches again, and is back to guessing wrong—wildly—on what is coming against better pitching in the AL; your basic out machine. Looking at his OPS component numbers for these three months, John in LA, is exactly why OPS isn’t that great a way to evaluate. Adrian had one hot streak against bad pitching mostly in June, and outside of _that_ his year has been consistently sucktastic. Context is king. And his performance in context does not lead me to believe that he has made any kind of improvement WHATSOEVER over that time. He is and was exactly the same hitter in every month of last year, this year (except April), and really his whole career. And in all high probability, he will continue to be exactly the same guy we see at the park today through the duration of his career to come.

    Going to a psychologist may impact Adrian’s stubbornness, but I’m extremely dubious on that, with cause. Seeing that psychologist will do nothing for Adrian’s _inability to recognize pitches out of the pitcher’s hand_. This is Adrian’s 8th year in the Big Leagues, and he still can’t recognize curve ball or fastball on any consistent basis. _That_ kind of consistency leads one to infer that ‘the light is never going to go on.’ Adrian guesses at the plate too much because he can’t read the pitch, but after 8 YEARS IN THE BIGS, he guesses wrong waaaaaa-aaa-aayy to much of the time, an indication that he really isn’t very smart as a hitter. He’s trying, but it clearly takes him years to learn the patterns of individual pitchers and teams. It was, maybe, in his 5th year in the NL that Beltre finally knew that League well enough to be guessing right a good portion of the time. Are we to wait until he’s been in the AL 4-5 years to see results? It’ll take that long at least, if ever, judging by his learning curve so far here.

    Adrian swings at many pitches off the plate. Oh, he’ll cut down his ‘go-zone’ a little if he’s going bad, but he goes right back to hacking when he’s hot. He doesn’t protect the plate. He uses the same swing on too many pitches. For example, down and away isn’t really where to go to get him out, it’s down and in. Adrian doesn’t get under the ball to lift it but won’t lay off it so the other team can very reliably get left side GBs out of him. He can’t and won’t lay off of the high fastball, just as Pentland said, but he can’t hit it, either. Adrian can’t/won’t adjust his swing to hit offspeed pitches reliably; he’ll stay back on the ball fairly well if he’s guessed right, but then launch his bat at it at warp speed like he’s trying to brain a snake. There may be psychological issues to his inflexibility, but consider: Adrian hit his way off the canefield in Hispaniola and has made himself a very wealthy man playing the game exactly as he is playing it today. Why would he change? His whole imago as a baseball player is wrapped up in what he’s doing, and that’s a powerful disincentive to truly listen and truly change anything in his game. He’ll listen, but he won’t change. His entire history of consistency as a player says that he won’t change. He’ll tweak a little bit until ‘he get’s going good,’ then revert right back to what he’s always done when he’s going good to try and prolong the streak, making all the mistakes he’s always made. I’d bet his salary on it.

    Now, if Adrian is getting strikes from pitchers that aren’t down and in, he’s a great athlete with great bat speed, and he puts a wicked lick on the ball. At that point, Safeco’s characteristics come into play, and yes if the LF-CF alley fence was brought in it would surely help him and every other RH batter here. But it won’t change him as a batter: he doesn’t change. If anything, he’ll hack more trying to reach the more reachable fence, I’d say. Pitching in the AL is about working the corners and getting batters to swing at pitches they can’t do much with; it’s not about challenging hitters, or except for relievers generally about attacking the strikezone. Adrian’s in the wrong League for his game such as it is, frankly.

    Clayton’s comments that you don’t trade a 27-year old, toolsy, sometime All-Star with batspeed are %100 wrong. With any player you have to assess their strengths, weaknesses, prospects to improve, and cost of employment. Adrian has significant residual strengths, deep weaknesses as a hitter, no reasonable prospects to improve, and high costs of employment well beyond this season. I can’t believe that any one who has watched him would bet on him improving. It’s not impossible. He also could join the NASA, do well, and earn a spot on the mission to Mars. I wouldn’t bet on either outcome. That said, you don’t trade someone of his residual strenghths for nothing, even less for a bad contract coming back. THat much is dead on. Don’t panic, don’t sit, deal smart.

    . . . Which is why I like Dave’s idea in the post to start this thread. Turning Beltre, Meche, and sweeteners into Dave Roberts and Wilson Betamit is exactly the right idea; in fact, almost Beane-esque in approach. You give up flawed ‘names’ with a history of under-performance and high risks of same going forward for two guys undervalued around the game who together will give you more actual value RIGHT NOW and save a bunch of money to spend, probably on pitching. This is what you do: you move guys who don’t cut it for undervalued guys who in reality make your team better.

  8. BelaXadux on July 22nd, 2006 8:58 pm

    RE: Clayton’s comments on Beltre sounding like he’s reading USS Mariner, it’s quite obvious that many, perhaps most, local sports commentators read what’s posted here, and work an angle off it for their daily wordcount quota. Repeatedly during this last year, issues discussed en blog but not elsewhere locally in the same way or at all, particularly regarding players in the Ms organization, have popped up in local articles shortly thereafter. I even heard Niehaus and Fairly today discussing the possibility of Mark Lowe being turned into a starter next year (!). They didn’t say, The team is thinking of this; they mooted the issue. —They never think ahead like that, especially if someone is having good success in their present role, where typically they cheerlead. That was an eyeopener, but just another example.

    Media types are fishing in the blog for ‘what the fans who care think,’ and taking talking points away. All to the good, says me.

  9. Dave on July 22nd, 2006 9:55 pm

    Yes, Beltre has obvious flaws. We all know what they are.

    You’ve done nothing to convince me that these are permanent, unchangable flaws. You’d have made this exact same argument about Jose Guillen (ages 21-26, 2200 PA, .680 OPS, then wham, light bulb), Aramis Ramirez, and Torii Hunter.

    Or, just for fun, let’s take a look at this hall of famers career:

    Brooks Robinson:

    In the majors at 18, playing regularly by 21, posts OPS+ of 96 at age 22 and 108 at age 23. Clearly defining himself as one of the best young players in the game.

    Age 24, he takes a step back, posting an OPS+ of 97. Bounces back with his best year to date at age 25, posting a 125 OPS+, then declines again at age 26 with his worst year to date, an OPS+ of 89 (.251/.305/.365 raw line).

    Through his age 26 season, he had 3,445 at-bats and had posted an OPS+ of 97 with only one year of star level performance.

    He then proceeded to roll off seasons with an OPS+ of 145, 124, 124, 125, 117, 92, 109, and 114 before decline finally set in. From ages 27-34, he was awesome, after being thoroughly mediocre in many, many chances from 21-26.

    Adrian Beltre, in his career up to 2006, had 4,065 at-bats with an OPS+ of 106. Even his recent suckitude would fit right in with the early years of Brooks Robinson’s career. Except Beltre’s good years were significantly better than Robinson’s good years.

    A light-bulb turned on for Brooks Robinson at age 27. He had always been seen as a tremendous talent (thus, being in the majors at 18) and had flashed it from time to time, but was unable to translate that into consistent performance despite being handed 3,500 at-bats over 8 seasons.

    He’s now in the Hall of Fame.

    I’m sorry, but there are way, way too many examples of talented underperformers who finally figure it out for me to believe that it is impossible for Adrian Beltre to figure it out.

    The worst part of the statistical analysis movement has been to equate player performance with talent. There are a significant amount of underachievers floating around life, and many of them play baseball. All that it takes, in many instances, for an underachiever to improve is a change in attitude.

    There’s no disputing Adrian Beltre’s talent. I’ve never seen any kind of compelling argument that shows that underachievers can be expected to continously underachieve for the rest of their existance. There are too many examples to the contrary. One of the most comparable players to Adrian Beltre is in the freaking Hall of Fame.

    In other words, “If i can change, and you can change, we allllllllllll can change.”

  10. BelaXadux on July 23rd, 2006 12:20 am

    Adrian Beltre has all the world of physical talent; there’s no questioning that. I can’t demonstrate the impossibility of a future hypothetical, and really I’m not trying to do so. We can look at what he’s done, and what he does, and assess the likelihood of change. That’s what I try to do.

    Is there anything in Adrian’s history as a player, as a person, and in his demonstrated performance here which suggests that such a change is impending, or significantly probable? No. Therefore, the likelihood of such a change has to be seen as low. So long as Adrian can reel off season-ending numbers roughly in line with his history, there will be very little pressure from _inside the person_ to change. Adrian has salvaged his season more or less to this point so that, particularly if he has a more or less typically hot August he’ll come close to his normal output. Why would he change? Because the Ms management want more for their $$$?? Hardly. We may look at Beltre and see him as something of a failure and a disappointing return on his underlying talent. Do you think he feels that way? I hear _nothing_ in his statements, or in others’ comments about him to lead me to believe that. He’d like to do better, but really he’s doing what he’s always done, and he has his good streaks, and who can ask more for him than to keep giving it his all like he is now? Why would he change??

    And it’s not as simple as “the light coming on,” to me. I don’t think Adrian recognizes pitches, and I don’t think that that’s going to significantly change. He’s been employed as a ballplayer to hit pitches for, what?, 10 years, and he still can’t recognize pitches. I don’t think, watching his ABs, that Adrian really understands what pitchers are doing to get him out. He can discuss it with coaches all he wants in the dugout or video room, but once he’s at the plate he has only the shreds of a clue, to me. After ten years, Adrian still doesn’t really know how to bat. He knows how to hit, but not how to bat; he’s all mechanics, no mentality. Ten years and $60M in salary richer. I can’t look at that and say there’s significant probability of change. Why would he change?

    Basically, Adrian works to extend each AB until he gets a fastball out over the plate: that’s it, that’s the sum total of his approach. And in doing that, he’s quite willing to swing at pitches off the plate, especially if they’re fastballs. This last issue, swinging at non-strikes, is the one area where Adrian could have an epiphany, and it would greatly improve his results as a hitter. There’s no evidence, zero, to this point that he’s at all interested in doing so. If this year’s April didn’t convince him, it’s hard to see what could.

    Any one _can_ change, but what’s the probability? Where’s the incentive?? Where’s the beef???! How many guys comparable to Beltre _aren’t_ in the Hall of Fame, hey? Damn near all of them. _That’s_ the point. Usually, Dave, you make this argument from the other side. That guys who ‘haven’t learned aren’t going to?’ What is it about Beltre that makes you throw that skepticism over the wall and believe in Adrian? His 2004, I would suppose. I’m not going to try and explain that year, but the rest of his career speaks louder, to me.

    To me, Wladimir Balentier has a far better chance of turning into Ryan Howard than Adrian Beltre has of making the Hall of Fame. And it will cost much, much less to find out about Wlad the Impeller than Adrian. I’m convinced, I’ll say that. Only time will convince others. But in the meantime, I’d love to execute Steps 1 and 3 and end up with Roberts and Betamit and salary room.

    I have nothing against Adrian as a person, and all I hear says he’s a good person, good team mate, and good competitor. I find watching stupid ball players taxing, however. I think in performance-oriented jobs, there should be consequences for inadequate performance. There are always more players to be had, and I’m a believer in cutting ones losses: there are _always_ alternatives in this game. Having Beltre around makes it that much harder to convince Jose Lopez and Y. Betancourt to take pitches and have smart ABs. If Beltre can make eight very large a year without doing so, why should they, hey?

    Most players who haven’t learned how to bat by Adrian’s years of service time don’t. That’s the stone reality. Nothing suggests he will buch that trend, either.

  11. BelaXadux on July 23rd, 2006 12:33 am

    Jose Guillen: All I’ll say is that there may be more than one explanation for his rise in OPS, and that explanation suits his behavior and present employment status really well. Torii Hunter: his ‘improvement lies largely in refining an uppercut swing that put more balls in the short seats at the Metrodome; he’s never learned to walk, and his contact rate is still low. Yes, he went from awful to productive, but he didn’t become a complete hitter at all. Aramis Ramirez is the best case, yeah. He was toolsy but underperforming and not very smart in a lousy baseball environment, only to begin putting it together as his walk year approached and the incentive of making big money for improved performance was there.

    . . . Adrian’s got his money. Why would he change?

    And for all that, if he were traded back to the NL, it’s a good bet he’ll find another monster year somewhere, amongst 7-8 seasons much like his ’05. I don’t care: they can have him.

  12. terry on July 23rd, 2006 7:17 am

    I’m not arguing that Beltre can’t figure it out. Anything is possible (well i’m not sure that I can convince my wife to let me date Jessica Simpson). I’m wondering about risk management-at what point does it make sense to let someone else assume the risk and take the bet that he WILL figure it out?

    This thread points out there are creative ways to be much more cost effective at third base. I LOVE Beltre’s glove. But how much is it worth?

    I personally think he will figure it out-especially in the right park- but it’s not my money on the line and its no longer a safe bet he’ll improve offensively. At least no one should be shocked if he doesn’t.

  13. Dave on July 23rd, 2006 9:16 am

    We can look at what he’s done, and what he does, and assess the likelihood of change. That’s what I try to do.

    Really – you think statement’s like this one

    “There is every reason, absolutely every reason, to believe that the light is _never_ going to come on for Adrian Beltre.”

    are assessing the likelihood of change? To me, it’s pretty clear that you believe the likelihood is 0%, and that’s what I’m objecting to. It clearly isn’t 0%. I’d say it’s probably 25-30%, but I’m completely willing to admit that number comes right out of my butt, and I’m just guessing. I have no idea how to even begin trying to accurately predict a person’s future mental capacity, and I don’t believe that you should be as confident in your ability to analyze Adrian Beltre’s desire to improve without knowing the man.

    Look, obviously, I don’t think we should hold out hope that Beltre’s going to revert to ’04 form and win a few MVP’s in Safeco. This thread started because I suggested trading him for nothing, so on that point, I’m clearly with you. No need to argue that.

    I’m objecting to the idea that Beltre “is what he is”, a .700 OPS guy who is unable to improve any area of his game, despite the fact that he’s 27 years old and clearly one of the most physically gifted players in the game.

    In my opinion, you are way, way too confident in your ability to understand what’s in Adrian Beltre’s mind, especially for a person who has never talked to him and has no relationship with the man.

    Understanding what we don’t know is just as important and understanding what we do know. And just because we can do a good job of calculating VORP or evaluating a pitcher’s stuff does not mean that we have the tools or experience necessary to predict a player’s future mental state from judging his reactions and body language on the field and the quotes he gives to the press.

    We all agree that Beltre’s problems are mental, not physical. I’ve never seen any evidence that mental problems are unfixable, or rarely fixable, but I’ve seen too many players take giant leaps forward to believe that your hypothesis is even close to being correct.

    Here’s what I don’t think you realize – if Adrian Beltre never improves, he’ll be the historical anomaly. That’s why his PECOTA projections are so high each year – guys who get to the majors as teenagers, become productive players by age 21, and have an MVP season at age 25 do not suck for the rest of their careers. It just doesn’t happen.

    Know what you don’t know. We don’t know what’s in Adrian Beltre’s mind.

  14. terry on July 23rd, 2006 12:10 pm

    One thing about Beltre… No one is disputing whether he CAN improve. I think the issue is how likely is he to improve.

    The phrase *historical anomaly* has been used to argue that its likely he will improve because history suggests its a rare fellow who doesn’t.

    However, history is replete with anomalies that defy Pecota (the Ms have two other guys in their current outfield who fit that description more or less). Life is a bellcurve. Beltre has had roughly the equivalent of 8 seasons to learn and develop and statistically the 2006 Beltre is underperforming versus the 1999 version of himself. *Historical anonamlies* aren’t in fact that terribly rare. I prefer the term outlier since it is more neutral and probably a more accurate descriptor.

    Gazillions of others before him clearly demonstrate a growth curve for their career relative to age…. but so far, Beltre’s career doesn’t fit that curve as outside of one year, he hasn’t shown any growth in any offensive skill (k’s, SLG, OBP, AVE, walk rate etc.). So if during EIGHT seasons, Beltre doesn’t fit the golden curve, how practical is it to use the curve to suggest it’s likely he’ll get better?

    It’s not a lack of understanding that leads to the suggestion that with Beltre what you see is what you’ll get, its an acceptance that because Beltre so far has been somewhat of a *historical anonmaly*, the curve doesnt fit.

    Right now the Ms are overpaying him based upon production. He’s collecting about 21.5 million for two good months (August ’05; June 06) in two seasons with the Mariners. Just from a risk management standpoint, what are tha chances he’ll be worth 11.5 million next year? I’m suggesting they aren’t great-curve be damned.

  15. tangotiger on July 24th, 2006 2:54 pm


    I think you might be interested in this analysis, as to the effect of being behind, but actually have a better team than your opponents:


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