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Werth on MASN 2011


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So you read the quote from Rizzo saw my take on it and were still confused? Andy is that you?

You read the quote from Rizzo and wrote your own take on it and I think you're confused.

Either a contract makes sense or it doesn't.

Why award points to a GM for making a bad target and overpaying drastically to get him? Why award points to a GM for making a potentially franchise-crippling deal just because he knew it was what he wanted to do?

I think Rizzo and MacPhail agree on one fundamental point: to get 'premium' free agents to awful teams in middling markets, you have to overpay ridiculously.

Where they differ is that MacPhail thinks that's a bad idea.

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Well that's how you ensure you get a player. I'm not saying it's a smart contract, but they got the player they wanted.

So, the moral of the story is that if you identify a player you want and go way above what anyone else wants to offer, you win, right?

And it doesn't matter whether it's a good target or whether it's a smart contract, just that you decided you wanted a guy and paid a boatload to get him?

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I think it's obvious that few people think this is a good idea. Playing Devil's Advocate, though:

1. What other bad contracts does WAS have?

2. Let's say they carry $15million of dead weight in the last three years of this deal...

Is it outlandish to think WAS can absorb this contract without much difficulty, providing they are reasonably smart moving forward? They should be able to extend Zimm if they do so next off-season (though I acknowledge Tulo has made it a lot more expensive for WAS to pursue that route). Even with almost $20 million in Werth, they will have there top "core" under control for almost all of Werth's deal (Harper/Zim/Strasburg). They could be adding another advanced college arm this year at their draft slot. They've invested a fair amount in the draft and aren't devoid of other potential contributors in their system.

I guess what I'm getting at is that if Werth is the BIG bad contract, shouldn't they still have enough flexibility to build a competitor? If Werth, Zimm and the growth of a couple young guys (and a solid season from some less expensive FAs) can get them out of the cellar and intothe mid-70 range, couldn't WAS have a much easier time attracting FAs at a reasonable price next year if they point to a, say, 9 game improvement and Strasburg/Harper going the squad in 2012?

It's never a good idea to throw away money, but I can almost convince myself that making some progress in 2011 while they wait for Stras/Harper is a smart way to go about it. Maybe the bad contract for Werth is what helps them get the two reasonable contracts next year?

I don't know, just throwing it out there...

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I think it's obvious that few people think this is a good idea. Playing Devil's Advocate, though:

1. What other bad contracts does WAS have?

2. Let's say they carry $15million of dead weight in the last three years of this deal...

Is it outlandish to think WAS can absorb this contract without much difficulty, providing they are reasonably smart moving forward? They should be able to extend Zimm if they do so next off-season (though I acknowledge Tulo has made it a lot more expensive for WAS to pursue that route). Even with almost $20 million in Werth, they will have there top "core" under control for almost all of Werth's deal (Harper/Zim/Strasburg). They could be adding another advanced college arm this year at their draft slot. They've invested a fair amount in the draft and aren't devoid of other potential contributors in their system.

I guess what I'm getting at is that if Werth is the BIG bad contract, shouldn't they still have enough flexibility to build a competitor? If Werth, Zimm and the growth of a couple young guys (and a solid season from some less expensive FAs) can get them out of the cellar and intothe mid-70 range, couldn't WAS have a much easier time attracting FAs at a reasonable price next year if they point to a, say, 9 game improvement and Strasburg/Harper going the squad in 2012?

It's never a good idea to throw away money, but I can almost convince myself that making some progress in 2011 while they wait for Stras/Harper is a smart way to go about it. Maybe the bad contract for Werth is what helps them get the two reasonable contracts next year?

I don't know, just throwing it out there...

The quagmire here is that Werth will provide his best value while the Nats are waiting for Harper and Strasburg to (hopefully) become the forces they are potential of becoming. At that point, Werth will be declining, and, considering the fate of guys who bloom and peak late, that decline could be sharp.

My gut feeling is that, even if the Nationals start to make smart moves (and, if Rizzo thinks this is a smart move, what are the chances of that?), by the time they get truly competitive Werth will be on the decline and owed significant money until he is 38 years old (!).

If, somehow, they can do enough and get lucky enough to legitimately contend for a championship in 2012/2013, then maybe it's worth it to throw this much money at Werth. In the absence of that, it would be somewhere between pretty dumb and horrific.

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The quagmire here is that Werth will provide his best value while the Nats are waiting for Harper and Strasburg to (hopefully) become the forces they are potential of becoming. At that point, Werth will be declining, and, considering the fate of guys who bloom and peak late, that decline could be sharp.

My gut feeling is that, even if the Nationals start to make smart moves (and, if Rizzo thinks this is a smart move, what are the chances of that?), by the time they get truly competitive Werth will be on the decline and owed significant money until he is 38 years old (!).

If, somehow, they can do enough and get lucky enough to legitimately contend for a championship in 2012/2013, then maybe it's worth it to throw this much money at Werth. In the absence of that, it would be somewhere between pretty dumb and horrific.

Right. My point is more that, even if WAS was eating all of Werth's contract, does it REALLY mean they can't put together a competitive team? SFN did with two of the worst contracts in all of baseball (over $30 million this year to Zito/Rowand alone!).

We have all stated that a really bad team needs to overpay for top FA, and the best course of action is to build a quasi-competitive team through internal development and a few trades. Then, add the FA piece(s) to finish the product.

What if WAS is simply using a contract like Werth to try and fast forward to a point were more reasonable contracts can be had with FA? If WAS adds 6-10 wins they are all of the sudden a fringe .500 team in a winnable division (not easy, but generally winnable -- the Marlins routinely compete, come on!). Entering next off-season with a record around .500 means you can go to a FA with your year of improvement under your belt and point to Harper/Strasburg coming in 2012 and potentially being a force in 2013. That looks a whole lot more enticing to me than BAL's current predicament.

I'm not saying this is the right course of action, but I can understand how paying for that win bump now to try and move into the "reasonable FA demands" category of team. Again, this assumes that the Werth signing is for reasons along this line, and NOT because WAS thinks it's actually a good deal. I think we can all agree that if this is the type of deal WAS is looking to make as a guideline, they are unlikely to put together an affordable/winning team.

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It doesn't mean they can't build a competitive team, but imo it severly hinders their ability to do so during the last 3 years or so of this deal.

I also don't think you ever need to overpay to this extent to make it to contenter status. If the core you have in place along with some non-super expensive reinforcements can get you to respectability, then you can add bigger pieces without having to drastically overpay. Plus, that way the added star(s) will presumably be the most productive when the team can actually contend.

Finally, as others have said, they've had Dunn these past two years and could have continued to have him for a much lower cost than Werth, and I believe having him achieves the same goal that Stotle is describing.

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It doesn't mean they can't build a competitive team, but imo it severly hinders their ability to do so during the last 3 years or so of this deal.

I also don't think you ever need to overpay to this extent to make it to contenter status. If the core you have in place along with some non-super expensive reinforcements can get you to respectability, then you can add bigger pieces without having to drastically overpay. Plus, that way the added star(s) will presumably be the most productive when the team can actually contend.

Finally, as others have said, they've had Dunn these past two years and could have continued to have him for a much lower cost than Werth, and I believe having him achieves the same goal that Stotle is describing.

I agree Dunn would be preferable. I wonder if Werth shifts to 1B in year three once Harper is ready to take over full time? Does that slow his aging? I don't know. Dunn seems like the better bet, but maybe Werth's non-negative defensive value is worth an extra win a year? If so, maybe the price difference isn't that great?

Again, I'm in no way defending this contract. I'm just trying to understand it. I agree building a core is the better way to go, but it also takes longer. If WAS thinks they'll have some cred by peddling Harper/Strasburg as big additions next off-season, maybe having Werth/Zimm and some of the other younger Nats in place is enough to put them in the "reasonable FA demands" category next year. Otherwise, aren't they forced to wait until after the 2012 season, after they already have Harper/Stras up and have hopefully built a quasi-.500 team? Maybe the FO thinks a move like this, coupled with a more reasonable acquisition or two, allows them to skip ahead one or two off-seasons in the process?

It's just the best I can come up with. I'm not sold on it, but I think there is enough there for it to be a POSSIBLE defensible course of action (I just don't have the inclination or time to do all the legwork that would go into trying to prove that -- especially when I'm not sold it can even be proven).

Anyway -- blah.

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I agree Dunn would be preferable. I wonder if Werth shifts to 1B in year three once Harper is ready to take over full time? Does that slow his aging? I don't know. Dunn seems like the better bet, but maybe Werth's non-negative defensive value is worth an extra win a year? If so, maybe the price difference isn't that great?

Again, I'm in no way defending this contract. I'm just trying to understand it. I agree building a core is the better way to go, but it also takes longer. If WAS thinks they'll have some cred by peddling Harper/Strasburg as big additions next off-season, maybe having Werth/Zimm and some of the other younger Nats in place is enough to put them in the "reasonable FA demands" category next year. Otherwise, aren't they forced to wait until after the 2012 season, after they already have Harper/Stras up and have hopefully built a quasi-.500 team? Maybe the FO thinks a move like this, coupled with a more reasonable acquisition or two, allows them to skip ahead one or two off-seasons in the process?

It's just the best I can come up with. I'm not sold on it, but I think there is enough there for it to be a POSSIBLE defensible course of action (I just don't have the inclination or time to do all the legwork that would go into trying to prove that -- especially when I'm not sold it can even be proven).

Anyway -- blah.

Well you bring up an interesting defense, but it doesn't hold up for me for reasons already said.

As far as the comment in bold, well they could just wait til next off-season to do the over the top move if that's really thought to be wise. That way they have another year to evaluate what to do and the star they sign will make more sense in terms of timing as they would be a year closer to contending. Plus, maybe it willl actually be a better and/or younger player.

I really doubt signing Werth this year is going to save them much if anything next off-season. We are probably only talking about 3-5 more wins with him than without him, and only a win or so better than with Dunn. I just don't see this move as one that fastracks them into a .500 or so team.

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Well that's how you ensure you get a player. I'm not saying it's a smart contract, but they got the player they wanted.

THEN IT IS NOT GOOD!

I'm sorry but that's like saying: "well I completely emptied my kids college fund but I got the car I wanted"

And you didn't get this:

2007_Bugatti_Veyron_image_0_5255_116.jpg

you got this:

2008-nissan-altima-coupe-3_460x0w.jpg

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This popped in my head and sums up this entire contract negotiation.

<object width="640" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWoYmTAfDbk?fs=1&hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWoYmTAfDbk?fs=1&hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="640" height="385"></embed></object>

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You read the quote from Rizzo and wrote your own take on it and I think you're confused.

Either a contract makes sense or it doesn't.

Why award points to a GM for making a bad target and overpaying drastically to get him? Why award points to a GM for making a potentially franchise-crippling deal just because he knew it was what he wanted to do?

I think Rizzo and MacPhail agree on one fundamental point: to get 'premium' free agents to awful teams in middling markets, you have to overpay ridiculously.

Where they differ is that MacPhail thinks that's a bad idea.

You are not looking at the flexibility of Rizzo's statement. You read it literally.

Sometimes you have to overpay when you suck to get the player you want. And then when you don't suck anymore, hopefully that situation rectifies itself...

Following so far...

Rizzo went overboard with Werth...following still?

His logic is 100% correct with his statement. His concept was correct.

He went overboard with Werth.

Now in between Rizzo and MacPhail's laughingstock of a job as our GM there is wiggle room. Such as Kenny Williams in Chicago.

MacPhail just thinks Baltimore Street, a collector's addititon of the Quit Snitchin DVD series, and a lowball offer will get premium talent here.

He doesn't value international prospects, scouting or player development, and he keeps a bargain basement draft budget relative to position and I'm the confused one?

Sorry, I beg to differ.

You want premium talent and you suck as a team, you overpay. Did Rizzo go too far? Absolutely. Would it be refreshing to see MacPhail go too far (not Werth too far though) to get an All Star caliber player? Absolutely.

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What's the most optimistic scenario you can come up with for Werth? I'd say it's assuming that his last three years is his established level, and that he'll age more slowly than the -0.5 wins/year you generally assume. So let's assume he is at 4.2 WAR for 2011, and declines by -0.5 wins every other year through the contract. And let's assume that the value of win goes up by 0.5M per year for the next seven years, which, again, is an optimistic case from the Nats' perspective. You end up with this:

Year	Wins	$/Win	Value2011	4.2	4.5	18.92012	4.2	5	212013	3.7	5.5	20.352014	3.7	6	22.22015	3.2	6.5	20.82016	3.2	7	22.42017	2.7	7.5	20.25Total	24.9	6	145.9

So there you go. A scenario where the Nats get good value. But for that to happen you have to assume wins are worth $7.5M in 2017, and that Werth is still only a little off of his 2nd-best MLB season at the age of 38. That's not completely unreasonable - about once every other year in MLB history you have a 38-year-old put up a 2.7 win season.

But I think a more reasonable case is this:

Year	Wins	$/Win	Value2011	4.2	4.5	18.92012	3.7	5	18.52013	3.2	5.5	17.62014	2.7	6	16.22015	2.2	6.5	14.32016	1.7	7	11.92017	1.2	7.5	9Total	18.9	6	106.4

That puts the "Nats tax" at $20M. I guess that's not completely over-the-top. But, again, that's assuming a pretty aggressive inflation of $/win, which may be unrealistic in this economy.

If $s in free agency appreciate a little slower, say $250k/win/year the value looks like this:

Year	Wins	$/Win	Value2011	4.2	4.5	18.92012	3.7	4.75	17.5752013	3.2	5	162014	2.7	5.25	14.1752015	2.2	5.5	12.12016	1.7	5.75	9.7752017	1.2	6	7.2Total	18.9	5.25	95.725

And they've overpaid by about $30M, for a player who's likely to be < 3 WAR for the majority of the deal.

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