Doumit Signs With Minnesota

Dave · November 18, 2011 at 2:11 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

This afternoon, Ryan Doumit – part of my Off-season Plan B – signed a one year, $3 million deal with the Twins. First off, I wouldn’t suggest losing much sleep over this, as Doumit was more of an example of a low cost, average-to-just-above average hitter who could bat from the left side and share some time at 1B/LF/DH with Smoak, Carp, and Wells. It’s not that Doumit is any kind of great player or that not signing him was a big miss by the team – there are a decent amount of guys out there with a similar skillset that the team could pursue. So, there’s no reason to be all that upset that he signed with the Twins – he could have been a decent fit here, but he’s not the only option from that pool of players.

But, since he did sign for $3 million, I figured I’d use him as a stand-in to make one last point about the relative value of signing Fielder versus pursuing a more balanced approach to this winter.

If you look at the career offensive numbers for Doumit and Fielder side by side, you’ll see that Fielder has posted a wOBA of .391 compared to Doumit’s .336 mark. Because of how wOBA was designed, converting it to runs per plate appearance is actually quite easy (it’s just ((.391-.336)/1.2), which shows us that Fielder’s career offensive advantage has been worth an additional .045 runs per trip to the plate. Multiplied out over a full-season (600 PA), the gap is 27.5 runs – this is essentially how many more runs you’d expect Fielder to produce at the plate than Doumit given the same number of opportunities.

Now, you could argue that career numbers understate the difference a bit since Fielder is three years younger and has been substantially better recently than he was earlier in his career, but it’s even adjusting for age, the gap isn’t going to be more than about 30-35 runs over 600 plate appearances. Over the course of a year, a team will gain one win for about every 10 runs they add, so the offensive difference is between +3 and +3.5 wins.

Now, Doumit signed for $3 million plus incentives, but it’s fair to assume that he’ll hit every trigger in the contract if he actually gets 600 PA next year. So, let’s assume he negotiated in $2 million worth of incentives, and say his expected contract for 2012 is $5 million if he stays healthy and plays everyday. If his injuries limited him to less playing time, you’d have to weight the difference in expected performance by shifting some of those PA to a guy like Casper Wells, but you’d also save on the incentives not kicking in, so the two outcomes are pretty close to a wash – we’ll just compare using a healthy Doumit for ease of math, but realize that an injured/cheaper Doumit (with playing time being distributed elsewhere) isn’t that much worse of an option, really.

If Fielder signs for something in the $25 million per year range, that means that the marginal cost of adding Fielder just in 2012 salary (and not accounting for the extra risk associated with a long term contract) is $20 million, or right around $6-$7 million per extra win added. Besides the Yankees, there’s not a team in baseball that can afford to use a significant part of their budget to pay $6 to $7 million per marginal win.

Doumit wasn’t any kind of savior, but his contract shows exactly why the team can do better by pursuing value at the lower end of the talent spectrum than they can by throwing money at Fielder. Not just in terms of long term risk, but in making the 2012 team better. If Fielder is only +3 to +4 wins better than guys who you could get for $5 million or less, then it just wouldn’t be hard to come up with two or three players that would provide equal value to acquiring just Fielder by himself.

Once you factor in the long term risk, the risk/reward scales tip far in favor of the spread-it-around theory. Fielder just doesn’t provide anywhere near enough value over what the team could get by signing a Doumit-type of player and upgrading other places on the roster as well to justify the risks associated with giving him a huge contract.

Comments

32 Responses to “Doumit Signs With Minnesota”

  1. ballgamejr on November 18th, 2011 2:36 pm

    Ok, I’m with you on this. Your idea works great when your dealing with a team starting replacement level players at several postions, because then instead of buying 7 wins for 25 million for 1 position you can buy 8 wins at 3 positions for that same 25 million for example. However does this model still work if the said team was starting (+) players at each position other than the star player upgrade?

  2. halibuthank on November 18th, 2011 2:40 pm

    Having read most of the Pro-Fielder and Anti-Fielder (He really cares about his nieces and nephews!) this piece seals the deal for me. I REALLY hope the M’s stay away from Prince. I know, dingers, and all, but if we as Mariner’s fans are truly in for the long haul and want to win consistently (AZ’s and SD’s seasons were nice and all, but a one-and-done for SD with a “We’ll see” for AZ leaves me wondering) I agree that Prince and his huge salary is not the answer. That said, if they do spend the ridiculous cash to get him I’ll love every one of his bombs. Hopefully, we spend wisely and that means a resounding ‘NO’ on Prince Fielder.

  3. amac360 on November 18th, 2011 2:43 pm

    I understand all this and would be happy if we had signed Doumit, but the reason I am in the pro-Fielder group is that I have a feeling he is going to hit 30+ home runs for the next 6 years. We probably wont be good next year, but 2013 I see us a bat or two away from playoff contention. Fielder is #1, maybe we could reel in Sizemore as well, then Ichiro comes off the books and we have tons of spare parts with some value –Trayvon, Wells, Saunders, Seager/Liddi, Triunfel, Catricala, Vargas, Beaven, League, Paxton, and if needed, Taijaun Walker– to trade for and sign a 3B and OF bat.

    2013/14

    Felix
    Pineda
    Hultzen
    Paxton
    Anyone (Walker should be ready by 2014 at the latest)

    C Miguel Montero (2012 FA)
    1B Justin Smoak
    2B Dustin Ackley
    3B Kyle Seager (Or trade/FA)
    SS Nick Franklin
    LF Grady Sizemore
    CF Franklin Gutierrez
    RF Trade/FA
    DH Prince Fielder

    We got a lot to work with here. I trust Trader Jack and am optimistic he can make the right moves to get it done. We have had enough damn suffering…. Go Mariners

  4. Pete Livengood on November 18th, 2011 2:57 pm

    Dave: Really, really good and clear explanation of this that anyone can understand!

    To add to something ballgamejr said in the first post (a) Fielder is probably closer to 4.5 to 5.5 wins that 7, and with 3-4 guys like Doumit, you might be able to get 7 wins for the same money while plugging more holes. Also, please remember that Fielder is not a very good defensive 1B, and if acquired would be an extremely expensive DH if his defense continues to decline – as it almost certainly will over the lifetime of his expected contract.

    Stay away from Prince!! Please!!

  5. Steve Nelson on November 18th, 2011 3:08 pm

    Another factor is the downside risk. If Fielder falls substantially below expectations the offense tanks along with him. By spreading the money around, a similar offensive collapse would occur only if all three players similarly collapsed simultaneously. And the odds of three players going in the tank simultaneously are much smaller than for a single player.

    And probably the biggest threat to longer term team success is to be locked into an albatross contract of that magnitude while simultaneously continuing to field a cruddy team. That would be the real attendance killer.

  6. adamsymonds on November 18th, 2011 3:30 pm

    Instead of Fielder, let’s say we spend the same $25m a season on 5 guys each worth exactly 1 WAR. Doesn’t this foreclose the possibility of earning better WAR from those spots by cycling through guys making the league minimum in an attempt to find someone that can produce? If the Ms player development folks really think they can find above-RP LF, 3B, C from the pile of minor leaguers, wouldn’t it make sense to consolidate the money spent into one superstar to maximize the use of that pyramid of talent at each of those positions?

  7. nwade on November 18th, 2011 3:51 pm

    Dave – You keep using Logic and Sound Judgement, to make your case… Don’t you realize you’re posting on the internet?

  8. Valenica on November 18th, 2011 5:17 pm

    The fact that five 1 WAR guys at $5 million each = 1 Fielder is exactly the reason NOT to sign him. If you were buying wins at that rate you would never win, but that’s essentially what you’re doing with Fielder.

    LF, CF, RF, 3B, C, DH. These are the positions of worry. We can’t waste $25 million for 5 WAR at 1B. If he was a 7 WAR hitter maybe…but how many people 1. think he could produce 7 WAR for the next 3-4 years and 2. think we could use that 7 WAR and contend earlier than 2014? Fielder doesn’t change anything. He just makes it harder to fix holes in years 3-8.

  9. Chris_From_Bothell on November 18th, 2011 6:12 pm

    So are you expecting Fielder will be a Yankee? Sounds like no one else can afford him.

  10. shadow_watch on November 18th, 2011 6:35 pm

    The one issue that I have with your analysis is that it assumes that having Fielder in the middle of your lineup has no impact on other hitters in the lineup.
    Whoever is hitting in front of Fielder would be likely to see better pitches to hit with RISP. Ditto for whoever hits behind him as Fielder will likely be on base quite often.
    Having a star player in the middle of your lineup has a trickle effect throughout your lineup.
    If the M’s want to stay competitive they need to increase payroll to some degree. Bringing in more retreads serves little purpose, as your WAR will never add up to a contender without some 5-6 WAR players…

  11. Dave on November 18th, 2011 6:47 pm

    No, it doesn’t. Line-up protection is a myth.

    And the whole “One star or five 1-WAR guys” thing is just a red herring. No one is arguing that the Mariners should just go sign a whole bunch of Miguel Olivos and call it a day. The reality is that the Mariners need average to above average players too, and they can upgrade their roster faster by filling holes with multiple useful starters than by betting the farm on one player. Once they figure out which of the in-house pieces are good enough to keep going forward, they can figure out where to invest on an actual star player to put them over the top.

    No one believes that a roster full of below average players is the goal. It’s just a strawman that gets setup by people who simply can’t think beyond home runs and RBIs.

  12. shadow_watch on November 18th, 2011 7:17 pm

    A myth because you can’t model it? I played college baseball and I can assure you that when I pitched I was well aware of who could hurt me and pitched accordingly.

  13. Dave on November 18th, 2011 7:39 pm

    At the Major League level, the spread in talent is significantly smaller than in college. The only place where there is any evidence of a player’s results being significantly impacted by the batter behind him is the #8 spot in the NL. Beyond that, there’s simply no evidence that a batter’s performance changes significantly when a better hitter is placed behind him in the line-up.

    For more on the subject, you can read this.

  14. opiate82 on November 18th, 2011 7:39 pm

    There is plenty of data to show that line-up protection is a myth despite what your singular, anecdotal experience may have been.

  15. bfgboy on November 18th, 2011 8:10 pm

    What nobody is mentioning is that, just as in the case of Fielder and the other big names, even mid-level guys still need to be convinced to come here. It is easy to say “let’s get five decent guys for what it would cost for one Fielder,” but who is to say that five decent guys WANT to come here? Let’s be honest, at this point in M’s history, what is the draw to come to Seattle? Even better, if you are a mid-level player that, by yourself, will have little impact on the team’s win-loss totals, what is your motivation for coming here? Would you rather take three million from the M’s, or two million from Texas and KNOW that you will be playing meaningful games in September?

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not pushing for Fielder, but at the same token, I am not saying that we shouldn’t. I am merely saying that it is not that easy to go out and pick up any mid-level guy you want. Players want the best paycheck possible, but they did not get to the majors simply as a result of the desire to get paid. They want to win. Getting Fielder will not make us win. However, getting Fielder might get those mid-level guys that want to win to start taking notice of Seattle.

  16. momo2119 on November 18th, 2011 8:41 pm

    Remember we only have 9 batting positions. The thing is Fielder only takes up 1 spot in the order, while 3 guys takes up 3 spots. It’s better to have Fielder because he gives us two additional spots to accumulate WAR. Now are those 2 additional spots worth $20 million a year? Probably not, but if they can be filled by 2-3 WAR players then it would make a world of difference. Instead of “filling up holes” we should try to gain the most we can out of those holes.

  17. stevemotivateir on November 18th, 2011 8:57 pm

    bfgboy-
    You really think Fielder would make Seattle more desirable to those mid-level players? We already have a star like that, in Felix Hernandez. You can argue Ichiro as well. And to a lesser extent, upcoming stars like Ackley, Smoak, and Carp. So from that point, why wouldn’t Seattle be attractive already?

    Lets say none of the current players have an affect on potential new players. Still want a reason? How about for their chance to be the star, without being in the shadow of someone else?

    Seattle is showing intent. They have a good crop of young players and they are trying to get better. Being asked to be part of a winning formula, would be attractive to a lot of players.

  18. Valenica on November 18th, 2011 9:09 pm

    However, getting Fielder might get those mid-level guys that want to win to start taking notice of Seattle.

    However, getting Fielder means we can’t sign any mid-level guys because we’ll have no money. That’s kind of the point.

  19. bfgboy on November 18th, 2011 9:16 pm

    steve-
    The idea isn’t that Fielder alone would be attractive, it would be that in 2013 or 2014 when the kids are hopefully decent, Felix is Felix, and Fielder is one more positive piece, then those mid-level guys may find Seattle much more attractive than what it is now; a team in a “rebuilding project” averaging close to 100 losses over three seasons. There is nothing right now that says we have a winning formula. We have all bought into the idea that it is a winning formula, but the vast majority of that is dependent on a huge number of variables that may, or may not pan out.

    Additionally, you mentioned that players want their own chance to be a star outside of the shadow of someone else. I would say that is more of an argument for Fielder over mid-level guys like Doumit.

    Finally, I love the M’s, I love Z, I love the park, and I think that everybody on this board feels the same. I do not, however, love them enough to think that Ichiro, Ackley, Smoak, and Carp are selling points. Felix…yes. Possibility of a lot of good young guys turning into a few very talented guys…yes. But we are not nearly far enough along in the “rebuilding process” to claim that Seattle is a desirable destination.

  20. stevemotivateir on November 18th, 2011 9:45 pm

    There is nothing right now that says we have a winning formula.

    There isn’t a winning formula, until you’re winning. The point I was trying to make, is that those players can be part of the solution. And there is a good young core, that shows there is reason to think positive about the future. Players shouldn’t think they’re coming here to die!

  21. MrZDevotee on November 18th, 2011 10:00 pm

    Ut oh-
    Sounds like another option is about to leave the table…

    (quoting MLB Trade Rumors, talking about Grady Sizemore’s agent and the Cleveland Indians in serious talks):

    “Crasnick’s ESPN colleague Buster Olney hears from a source that the deal “will be done” between the two sides.”

  22. stevemotivateir on November 18th, 2011 11:15 pm

    ^Ramon Hernandez is still available, as far as I know. He’s one of the more interesting names that has kind of been under the radar. Will be interesting to see what the terms of Sizemore’s deal will be. I’d guess there will be lots of incentives.

  23. make_dave_proud on November 19th, 2011 1:10 am

    Has anyone noticed that no free agents seem all that interested in Seattle? I humbly offer my expectations for this year.

    I expect the Mariners will not sign Fielder.
    I expect the Mariners will not trade for Votto.
    I expect the Mariners will not sign any A or B free agent.
    I expect the Mariners will not make any major-splash trades.
    I expect the Mariners will not improve the offense from last season.

    I expect the Mariners to sign a few more one-year grabs from the scrap table — Casey Kotchman/Jack Cust redux. And the Mariners offense will continue to be the worst in the league.

    These are my expectations because of a fundamental problem with the Mariners: they have a recruitment problem. Nobody wants to come to Seattle to play. Players only seem to end up here.

  24. groundzero55 on November 19th, 2011 1:27 am

    The free agent crop mostly sucks this year anyway. Generally speaking, the majority of the field is over the hill, washed up and/or broken down. Great, if you want to improve your bench, but few players that are worth building around.

    But hey, Betemit is still out there, wouldn’t he be an upgrade at 3B?

  25. maqman on November 19th, 2011 2:43 am

    What’s with the Fielder fixation? Nobody is ranting we should go for Pujols, probably because they know it ain’t happening. However he makes about as much sense as Fielder, who of course doesn’t make any sense.

  26. eponymous coward on November 19th, 2011 6:11 am

    However, getting Fielder might get those mid-level guys that want to win to start taking notice of Seattle.

    Nobody wants to come to Seattle to play.

    So, you both realize you’re having collective amnesia on the signings of Adrian Beltre, Richie Sexson, Jarrod Washburn and Carlos Silva, right?

    That’s a lot of high-priced free agent contracts to be collectively ignoring. And the pennants we got for flashing that kind of cash? Zero.

    Apparently people still haven’t learned anything from the Bavasi years: that backing up the armored truck and signing the big name in the FA market has very, very little to do with being a successful organization- all you’re doing by adding the Big Free Agent to a thin organization, if you’re not in position to win, is adding a very nice deck chair to the Titanic (possibly one heavy enough to help sink it if they turn into Richie Sexson or Carlos Silva). Baltimore did this crap for years, too, and got nothing out of it. The Cubs do this, too. They win any pennants lately?

  27. gwangung on November 19th, 2011 8:54 am

    Apparently people still haven’t learned anything from the Bavasi years: that backing up the armored truck and signing the big name in the FA market has very, very little to do with being a successful organization- all you’re doing by adding the Big Free Agent to a thin organization, if you’re not in position to win, is adding a very nice deck chair to the Titanic (possibly one heavy enough to help sink it if they turn into Richie Sexson or Carlos Silva).

    Also, ignoring the lessons of successful organizations: build a core of talented, cost controlled players (either through trade or the farm system). The organization is still thin, to my taste, and we haven’t developed the farm system to the degree we want.

    THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS TO SUCCESS. Focussing on big name free agents when there are many holes on the team seems to scream “I wanna take a shortcut!” to me.

  28. MrZDevotee on November 19th, 2011 11:21 am

    Re: Shortcuts…

    Although we’re kinda in a unique position currently… With the expectation that our farm will be producing in a few years… I mentioned once before, and still think it’s not an impossible idea, for Z to tell the ownership…

    “Look, we’re not gonna win with what we have, and the payroll we’re looking at… The payroll is fine, if we had in house talent to work with… And we WILL, but it’s not ready yet…

    But we need to win to gain back our fans… What say we splurge a little over the next two years, on short term ‘High B’/'Low A’ players, and as our farm system- whom everyone agrees is looking good down the road- as that farm system starts to bloom a few Major League starters, we can trade away the overpriced guys, to help restock the farm, and bring the payroll back down… Long term it balances out, and we get the ‘good karma’ of showing the fans we’re gonna spend more $$$ to improve the team over the next two years… Face it, fans think ‘more money’ equals ‘more serious about winning’… instantly…

    So, let’s go $110 million the next two years… Whaddaya say?”

    I think it’s an actual REAL plan that could work… Upgrade a LOT of players now (3-4 year contracts, and NOT uber stars, who cost too much) and then get rid of those ‘upgrades’ once our own system’s players are able to take their place.

    Make it happen, Z!

  29. eponymous coward on November 19th, 2011 12:04 pm

    Let’s recall that when Bill Bavasi got extra cash in 2008, he wasted it in rather spectacular fashion.

    Let’s also recall that Zduriencik’s record on veteran pickups/evaluating free agents has been rather mixed: Jack Wilson was a waste of cash as a resigning (as opposed to paying him more in 2010 on the original deal we got him on, and letting him walk), the team in retrospect would have been better off eating Carlos Silva’s salary and waiving him instead of having to SEND cash to the Cubs for Milton Bradley (that impacted the ability of the 2011 team to add players, BTW), the team frittered away some millions on Kotchman and Cust the last couple of years (and wasn’t sharp enough to figure out what Kotchman’s real problems were), and his one bigtime FA signing was Figgins, who’s turned into a huge bust. Oh, and I don’t think Olivo’s very good- not as good as Mariner management thinks he is.

    Yes, I know we can do the “but there’s extenuating circumstances!” for everything I cited, but you know, at some point, if you’re good at your job, the results need to show it, and the results are that Zduriencik hasn’t done well at figuring out how to add veteran talent through free agency during his tenure here. He’s done much better at trades and in the farm system, where his minor league player evaluation skills are stronger (in line with his past experience). So an argument of “give me more money for expensive FAs” is kind of cheeky. Sure, it would be nice… but it’s not HIS money, and his record of stewardship’s not great. I can totally understand why management wouldn’t be adding to the 2012 budget given the results so far.

  30. ripperlv on November 19th, 2011 12:29 pm

    Solid argument for Doumit and anti-Fielder. However I believe the M’s have no intention of getting Fielder or Doumit (if he were still available). The M’s are committed to Carp, Wells, Smoak and Peguero at 1B/LF/DH. Yes I think the M’s give Peguero another shot for the simple fact that the man can jack a ball and the M’s believe they can fix some of his bad habits. He does have a 353/.416/.765 with 7HR in winter ball – small sample. We’ll see. It just seems that’s JZ’s MO (on the cheap) until he gets the pieces assembled. Then he will spend some money.

    He has only opened the wallet for:
    Hernandez – for obvious reasons.
    Gutt – who looked like the CF we wanted for years to come.
    Figgins – an OBP guy who was envisioned to create havic with Ichiro, a Safco Field type player who hasn’t performed.

    I believe we go after a starting pitcher and a 3B if one can be found (rare item). And not much else other than fillers unless JZ can find a bat other than 1B/DH in a trade. We need to pray that Gutt and Ichiro play comparable to their salaries. If Figgins is still around, he may be the 3B unless Seager earns the job. (unfortunately Aramis Ramirez is the only one who seems available) I also believe the Japanese connection makes us put in an aggressive bid on Darvish. This is my little conspiracy theory. Now what really plays out in real life – just egging to see.

  31. jwgrandsalami on November 19th, 2011 2:56 pm

    Actually, there is a need for a book and I’m in the finishing stages of writing it. The book covers both the insanity of the Bavasi Era and the fact that Lincoln and Armstrong let him stick around for five years to decimate the franchise but also the fact that the same idiots who gave Bavasi $117 million refuse to raise the payroll back to a reasonable level now that they have a good GM in place. They handed Bavasi the keys to the Ferrari but once Jack Zduriencik came in they basically said “you can’t drive the car because your brother got in an accident!” One would think even Armgstrong or Lincoln would be able to tell the difference between a good GM and a historically bad one, but hey they’re the same morons who said Bavasi was doing “an outstanding job” a month before firing him…

    Here’s a link to the book on Mariners history (Shipwrecked) which will be out on March 1st.

    http://epicenterpress.com/getpage.cfm?file=book7187.html&userid=90539091

  32. Klatz on November 19th, 2011 9:41 pm

    +1

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