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Let's Make A Deal (Arbitration Edition)

Friday Updates will be added under each player's section as we hear news of signings or dollars exchanged.

As you recall in November, the Twins had to decide whether or not to tender 2019 contracts to their 11 arbitration-eligible players. CJ Cron agreed to terms, signing a one year, $4.8 million contract. Ehire Adrianza agreed to a one year, $1.3 million 2019 deal. Finally, they decided to non-tender Robbie Grossman.

That means that they now have to work with eight players and their agents on the arbitration process. By Friday, the two sides need to agree to terms, or they will have to exchange numbers. At that point, the sides can work together to try to avoid going to an arbitration hearing. Often they will meet at the midpoint. The two sides could also work on a long-term extension, though they can do that any time.
Image courtesy of Brad Rempel, USA Today
Let’s take a look at the eight players who are up for arbitration and talk through the various options.

(Please note that the player number and team number are guesses by me after looking at arbitration-eligible players signing in the last couple of years. Mid-point is obviously just math.)
1st Year Arbitration-Eligible Players

Eddie Rosario - OF
2018 Contract: $602,000
MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $5.0M
Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Projection: $4.0M
Service Time: 3.120

Player number: $5.0 million - There aren’t a lot of similar players over the last couple of years. There are a lot of good players who have made between $2.6 and $2.8 million but Rosario has been better than them at the same stage. Jake Lamb is a third baseman, but he made $4.275 million coming off of being an All-Star. Rosario should get a little more than that, but shouldn’t ask for too much more as he likely wouldn’t get it.

Team number: $4.0 million - Again, there aren’t a lot of recent comparables, but Rosario has been really good in three of his four seasons, and both 2017 and 2018.

Mid-point: $4.5 million - One can’t help but wonder what these numbers may have looked like had Rosario stayed healthy over the final four to five weeks of the season. I think this would be a very fair deal for both sides.

Long-term contract? A long-term deal might make some sense for Rosario. With Rosario’s aggressive nature at the plate, would the team be willing to extend Rosario for the next four or five years? It seems unlikely. A two-year, $10 million type of deal might make some sense to both sides, but I don’t think a four-plus year deal makes as much sense.

Update:
The Star-Tribune is reporting that the Twins have signed all eight players,, including Eddie Rosario.



Max Kepler - OF
2018 Contract: $587,000
MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $3.2 million
Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Projection: $3.0 million
Service Time: 2.152

Player number: $3.25 million - Kepler has been worth an average of about 2.3 WAR each of his three seasons. He’s also played almost every day and been better defensively than both (players that the team may compare him to) while still hitting 18-20 homers a year. Has shown he can also play center field.

Team number: $2.75 million - At the same time in their career, Joc Pederson and Randall Grichuk got $2.6 million. With minimal inflation, I don’t think that the Twins can offer that same $2.6 million and need to bump it up just a little bit.

Mid-point: $3.0 million - This just seems like a good deal for both sides.

Long-term contract? Kepler is a Super 2 player, so the Twins have four more years of control. With Alex Kirilloff and LaMonte Wade on the horizon, there doesn’t seem like a lot of reason for the Twins to look to extend Kepler. However, if they believe in his talent, make-up and work ethic, it might be a good time to approach a long-term deal.

Update:



Miguel Sano - 3B
2018 Contract: $602,000
MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $3.1 million
Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Projection: $3.0 million
Service Time: 3.066

Player number: $3.6 million - Jake Lamb got $4.275 million at the same point in his career, but he was coming off of his second straight 30-homer season and drove in 105 runs. Sano’s side can’t approach that number.

Team number: $2.5 million - Maikel Franco, who wasn’t good in 2017, but still played a lot, earned $2.95 million in his first year of arbitration. Sano has played better than Franco, when healthy, but he has missed a lot of time, so the Twins shouldn’t feel they have to approach the Franco number. However, going too much lower than $2.4 million and they might not be able to win a case in front of a judge.

Mid-point: $3.05 million - While the mid-point in my guesses is the mid-point between the Twins Daily and the MLB Trade Rumors projects, this case is one that has a chance to go to arbitration because the sides could be further apart than others who might have a similar mid-point.

Long-term contract? Ummm… No. Sano’s side realizes that a long-term deal would be fairly low, conservative at this time. Sano has clearly put in work this offseason and owes it to himself to see how 2019 goes and if that hard work pays off. All of the questions that we as fans have about Sano, the front office certainly would have too, right?

Update:


Byron Buxton - OF
2018 Contract: $580,000
MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.2 million
Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Projection: $2.0 million
Service Time: 2.160

Player number: $2.25 million - Michael Taylor got $2.525 million with the Nationals, but the speedy center fielder was coming off of a season that was closer to Buxton’s 2017. Had Buxton been arbitration-eligible, $3-4 million would have been possible. But, he had a rough, injury-plagued 2018.

Team number: $1.5 million - Others with similar deals include Ezequiel Carrera ($1.16M), Aaron Hicks (first arbitration - $1.375M), Enrique Hernandez ($1.6M), and Leury Garcia ($1.175M). Buxton is so great defensively, when on the field, that they shouldn’t go as low as these guys, even if they had played more.

Mid-point: $1.875 million - MLB Trade Rumors is far lower than this, but I just don’t see how that can be if the players listed in the “Team Number” section are at that number or higher. Kike Hernandez hit .190 and .215 without a lot of power for the Dodgers in the two seasons before his first arbitration season. There is no reason that Buxton should get less than that.

Long-term contract? While there would be a lot of risk, Buxton’s defense alone makes him worth at least considering long-term. But, at this point, it might be a year early for that conversation. Also, as a Super 2, the Twins control his rights for the next four seasons.

Update:


Taylor Rogers - LH RP
2018 Contract: $565,000
MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.6 million
Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Projection: $1.5 million
Service Time: 2.145

Player number: $1.9 million - A look at the relievers who were first-year arbitration-eligible is interesting. The guys who have been good for a couple of years are all in the $1.6-2.1 million range. If the player has a bunch of saves, then that number goes up quite a bit. The guys with mediocre success are in the $1.1-1.3 million range. Taylor Rogers was very good through the first four months in 2017 and the final four months of the 2018 season. At the end or 2018, he was one of the best lefty relievers in the league.

Team number: $1.4 million - The Twins can’t try to go even on the lower end of the “mediocre” group of reliever values. I think they know that they have to at least be on the upper end of that group.

Mid-point: $1.65 million - Again, this number just seems to make a lot of sense for Rogers.

Long-term contract? Another Super-2, the Twins have four more years of control of Rogers. There is absolutely no rush to do anything right now. Going five or more years on a relief pitcher doesn’t make a lot of sense, unless the price is right. Cost certainty is what the Twins would be going for. As a lefty reliever, who probably won’t be a closer type, Rogers probably knows that he will never make the real big free agent money. So, there is definitely some room for conversation. How about something like $1.5 million in 2019, $2.5 million in 2020, $3.5 million in 2021. It could be a guaranteed $7.5 million for Rogers The risk for the Twins would be very low. The risk for what Rogers could make over this is also fairly low, maybe a million or two while at the same time being set for life.Plus, he would still have a year of arbitration after that contract runs out.




2nd Year Arbitration-Eligible Players

Trevor May - RH RP
2018 Contract: $650,000
MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.1 million
Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Projection: $1.5 million
Service Time: 4.012

Player number: - $1.5 million - It’s hard to predict what a player who missed a full season with Tommy John will get in arbitration. Obviously a year ago, May had to settle for a value barely over MLB’s minimum salary. In 2018, he returned mid-season and struggled a bit. But when he came back, he looked terrific. In fact, by season’s end, he put himself into the discussion for closing and late-inning relief plans for 2019 and beyond.

Team number: - $1.0 million - From purely the business side of things, May’s overall numbers the last two years are not going to make him a lot of money, so the Twins shouldn’t feel like they have to come in real high. Regardless of future plans for May, arbitration is going to be based on (usually) the last two seasons and that isn’t positive for May.

Mid-point: $1.25 million - I think this is a good number.

Long-term contract? Since May has just two more years of team control, this would be the time when a long-term deal should be approached if the Twins feel that he is 100% recovered and can stay healthy and productive for the next several seasons. I believe in May. I would really try to work out a deal in the four year range.

This could be tough to negotiate, however, because of the way bullpens are changing. In the past, May would likely be heading into the season as the top candidate for the closer job. Now teams use bullpens differently and a guy like May can be used in a critical game situation anytime between the seventh and ninth innings. So saves may not be there, and typically saves have been what teams have paid for.

So, I like the idea of something like this. $1.1 million in 2019, $2.4 million in 2020, $3.75 million in 2021 and $5.25 million in 2022. That deal would buy out two years of free agency and be worth four years, and $12.5 million.

I would also include some sort of escalation incentives on something like (though I’m just spit-balling) appearances in the seventh inning or later. Maybe if he reaches 50 such appearances in 2019, each subsequent year’s base salary increases by $250,000. Maybe at 60 such appearances, it increases each future season’s base salary by $500,000. Basically, the more high-leverage situations he pitches in, the more money he can make. With such a deal, May could make as much as $3 million more ($15.5 million over four years). It doesn't put him in the Felipe Vazquez (4 years, $22 million deal with a couple of option years), but with the timing and risk, it shouldn't. That would still be a number that the Twins could feel comfortable with, and yet it would also give May long-term financial security.

Update:



3rd (and Final) Year Arbitration-Eligible Players

Jake Odorizzi - RH SP
2018 Contract: $6.3 million
MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $9.4 million
Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Projection: $10.0 million
Service Time: 5.042

Player number: $9.5 million - I mean if MLB Trade Rumors is projecting that he gets $9.4 million, there’s no reason for Odorizzi’s camp to ask for any less.

Team number: $8.0 million - Odorizzi’s stats got worse for the third straight season, and he’s never been an innings eater.

Mid-point:.$8.75 million - This seems to be a big enough discrepancy that the team may just decide to go to arbitration, willing to eat an extra $750K if they lose on a one-year deal. And as we know, the Twins have plenty of money to not worry about it this offseason.

Long-term contract? Maybe, but probably unlikely. Nick wrote about the reasons to extend Odorizzi rather than Gibson last month, not the least of which is that he is three years younger. It’s hard to envision such a deal coming before the season, and if it would, it would likely be a two-year deal, allowing him to go into free agency following the 2020 season, still just 30.

Update:



Kyle Gibson - RH SP
2018 Contract: $4.2 million
MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $7.9 million
Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Projection: $8.5 million
Service Time: 5.039

Player number: $8.5 million - One name to consider is Michael Pineda in his final season of arbitration. His final three seasons before free agency included three seasons of an ERA in the mid-4s. He received $7.5 million. That was two years ago… Gibson was fantastic in 2018 and trending positively. He should be higher than that Pineda deal by a bit.

Team number: $7.25 million - A year ago, in his final year of arbitration, Patrick Corbin received $7.5 million. As good as Gibson was in 2018, Corbin was a bit better in 2017. Gibson’s numbers in 2017 were a tick behind Corbin’s numbers in 2016. So the Twins contract to compare against might be Corbin.

Mid-point: $7.875 million - This is another case where the sides are far enough apart that they may want to just go to arbitration and see what happens. The Twins have money. Or, it’s possible that instead of going to the mid-point, maybe the Twins brass would be willing to go a bit beyond the mid-point.

Long-term contract? Kyle Gibson took his game to another level in 2018, and he was consistent all year. After years of his getting back from Tommy John and unable to find consistency, he figured things out in the second half of 2017 and it appears that he may have become what scouts felt he could be all along. There is certainly reason to keep him in a Twins uniform if he’s willing to forego free agency and work with the Twins on a three-year extension. If he pitches like he did in 2018, Gibson could get a three-year, $45-50 million deal next year.

Update:



The deadline for filing the numbers is on Friday, but we are already starting to see deals made on Wednesday. Many more will agree to terms throughout Thursday, and my guess would be that most of the eight players will reach an agreement. As you see above, there certainly are cases where they could go before an arbitrator.

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62 Comments

 

Neither one of us know what he would have received.
Nor do MLB trade rumors. They are guessing, just like us.

 

With this rationale almost every single article posted here this winter falls under your. "you have no way of knowing" classification.

 

To post this "you have no way of knowing" at stuff is useless.EVERYTHING at this time of the year is timber for a discussion.If you don't agree with me than make your point please.if you don't have one then have a good day.

With this rationale almost every single article posted here this winter falls under your. "you have no way of knowing" classification.

 

To post this "you have no way of knowing" at stuff is useless.EVERYTHING at this time of the year is timber for a discussion.If you don't agree with me than make your point please.if you don't have one then have a good day.

Moderator's note: This bickering tangent, about who knows anything with certainty, has nothing to do with Seth's response to someone complaining that Buxton will receive a pay increase relative to 2018, namely that the arbitration system under the Basic Agreement bakes pay raises into the system, and I ask that it stop.

 

"Serious money."

 

This common perception has had a lot of evidence-supported pushback. Buxton is in the situation he finds himself in largely based on what he has thus far accomplished (or not).

 

Which begs the question... how much is a player worth during his arb years strictly based on promise versus actual performance? "Hurt feelings" aside, the fact remains, when/(if) Buck finally has the monster season (7+ fWAR), the big extension offer will come in, and in the process he stands to make back all of the money he "lost" during this first round of arb-eligibility

 

Sure I get what you are saying.If he plays well or well enough to be a star payer his arb awards will be large enough to make up some of the money he would have gained being a FA a year earlier but I doubt his arb awards and arb awards in general work out better money wise than being on the market as a free agent and that is what he lost by not being able to play at the end of season.

 

Was his play great to start the season I would say no.Did he deserve another shot after being healthy and playing better at AAA I think so.Does he need to be accountable for what happened absolutely and I haven't heard him say anything to make me think he hasn't accepted responsibility for the way his season went.The only question he had was why after he was healthy he wasn't called up and the FO seemed pretty quiet on that front.

 

It is impossible to know how he will do in the future but if you believe he finally hits just a little and he is already "the" or at least "a" premier defensive center fielder in all of baseball then the odds of him generating a large deal seem pretty good to me.If that were to happen I don't think his arb awards will get him close to what he makes by getting to free agency a year earlier.

 

If he never is any good then none of this probably really matters.If anything the Twins would have been more generous to him than he probably deserves.

 

 

 

"Serious money."

 

This common perception has had a lot of evidence-supported pushback. Buxton is in the situation he finds himself in largely based on what he has thus far accomplished (or not).

 

Which begs the question... how much is a player worth during his arb years strictly based on promise versus actual performance? "Hurt feelings" aside, the fact remains, when/(if) Buck finally has the monster season (7+ fWAR), the big extension offer will come in, and in the process he stands to make back all of the money he "lost" during this first round of arb-eligibility.

 

I see, I misunderstood your post.So you are saying if he does finally prove himself the Twins could give him an extension that would make up for the lost year of service time.That is something I hadn't considered and would work well.Play well then get rewarded properly.Yep that makes sense too.If he performs everything could take care of itself if both sides can agree.

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Brock Beauchamp
Jan 13 2019 11:13 PM

 

I am not into extending Buxton or Kepler at this time.I also think it is wrong to assume that Buxton is "worth it" on his defense alone.His defense makes an impact, but not nearly as much as a lot of people want to think because his bat makes such a negative impact.He goes through long spells where he is about as clueless a hitter there is in the game AND one of the easiest outs you're going to find.His spot in the lineup comes up four times a game.in 2017 (his best season and as close to a full season as he has given us) he made 274 plays.He made a little more than two plays a game.Just how many of those were routine?  

 

This notion that his glove is worth him being a horrible hitter isn't truthful or factual.If he can't hit at least .240 and get on base at a rate above .300 then he is a liability.I don't care if his glove is made of platinum.  

Well, you're kinda right... but mostly wrong, honestly.

 

Okay, so imagine this. You have a player with a .780 OPS. He's a wretched defender at a premium position. The difference between a .780 and .730 OPS is (using rough memory here so forgive any errors) is about 10 doubles and maybe a few singles scattered in. Anyway, roughly 30, maybe 40 bases scattered over a full season. If you're being generous, that's one base every four games in the season.

 

Buxton hasn't been caught stealing since the Nixon administration (so he's literally adding bases to his OPS total). He also steals at least one base (but many of his catches take multiple bases away) with his glove on a regular basis.

 

It's easy to forget that while you can score runs in baseball with big hits, you can also prevent them by taking away said hits. And a glove like Buxton does that almost with clockwork precision.

    • howieramone2 likes this

 

Well, you're kinda right... but mostly wrong, honestly.

 

 

 

It's easy to forget that while you can score runs in baseball with big hits, you can also prevent them by taking away said hits. And a glove like Buxton does that almost with clockwork precision.

 

The numbers don't agree.Simply put, he isn't getting enough opportunities to use that talent and counterbalance the weak bat.There are small zones on the field where Buxton can exhibit his special skills and balls just don't get hit there often enough.If that happened with regularity and was something as common as his turn in the order coming up then you would have something.It is not.Furthermore, hen you have a spot in the lineup where a player provides little hope it makes it so easy on the opposing pitcher and manager.It's almost a domino effect in some games where the opposing team feels like they are facing the pitcher's spot in the lineup.He has been that bad outside of his hot almost two months in 2017.Look at the 800 other at bats besides that hot streak.That is A LOT of terrible offense.

 

And instead of using hypotheticals look at how many putouts he makes.I'll use the only year he was able to play everyday.Even in 2017 where he played out of his mind in the field he managed 24 defensive runs saved according to that metric (if you take that as gospel).He made 274 plays in 1143 innings in the field.That is a play every 4.17 innings and a large majority of those plays are routine plays for major league centerfielders.Another problem with Buxton are the injuries due to his style of play PLUS the migraine issues.How long can he play with this reckless abandon before the machine tilts?It is a house of cards, in my opinion,

 

I get it.You want to be positive and you don't want to give up on the guy.The hard cold reality is while he is a top shelf fielder that isn't making up for how bad he hits.It makes up for part of it, but certainly not all of it.We can quibble about how much exactly but those things are so hard to determine.In the end, give me a player who can hit the three run homer over a guy who might hurt himself (again) crashing into a wall attempting to rob another of 3 run homer.The guy with the bat is going to have more opportunities to help his team than a centerfielder who makes two about two putouts a game.

 

The numbers don't agree.Simply put, he isn't getting enough opportunities to use that talent and counterbalance the weak bat.There are small zones on the field where Buxton can exhibit his special skills and balls just don't get hit there often enough.If that happened with regularity and was something as common as his turn in the order coming up then you would have something.It is not.Furthermore, hen you have a spot in the lineup where a player provides little hope it makes it so easy on the opposing pitcher and manager.It's almost a domino effect in some games where the opposing team feels like they are facing the pitcher's spot in the lineup.He has been that bad outside of his hot almost two months in 2017.Look at the 800 other at bats besides that hot streak.That is A LOT of terrible offense.

 

And instead of using hypotheticals look at how many putouts he makes.I'll use the only year he was able to play everyday.Even in 2017 where he played out of his mind in the field he managed 24 defensive runs saved according to that metric (if you take that as gospel).He made 274 plays in 1143 innings in the field.That is a play every 4.17 innings and a large majority of those plays are routine plays for major league centerfielders.Another problem with Buxton are the injuries due to his style of play PLUS the migraine issues.How long can he play with this reckless abandon before the machine tilts?It is a house of cards, in my opinion,

 

I get it.You want to be positive and you don't want to give up on the guy.The hard cold reality is while he is a top shelf fielder that isn't making up for how bad he hits.It makes up for part of it, but certainly not all of it.We can quibble about how much exactly but those things are so hard to determine.In the end, give me a player who can hit the three run homer over a guy who might hurt himself (again) crashing into a wall attempting to rob another of 3 run homer.The guy with the bat is going to have more opportunities to help his team than a centerfielder who makes two about two putouts a game.

This is not counting the number of probable doubles Buxton turns into singles and keeps runners from advancing, saving runs. Or the extra outs the pitcher has to get, because your defender does not make a play where others should. 

Your post is almost like defense does not matter, I have seen the simulation run in stratomatic baseball about 30 some years ago.The number of extra outs and runs this player gave up put his club into the 5+ runs against category every game.That is unsustainable in baseball (or you win about 60 games). Yes, you can hide bad defense at some positions, but the middle of the diamond will cost you a lot of the time.

Defense is more than the number of hits allowed, it is also how many of those hits are for less bases than your poor defensive player will allow, this keeps double plays in order or at least requires more than one more single to score the runner.Baseball stats take range into effect, but do not know if they calculate how many bases a batted ball should get and how many hits it takes to score a run with a premium defender at the position.In the infield, you also have to include balls knocked down preventing other base runners from taking 2 bases instead on 1.These are big differences and I do not know how much of this is calculated in the runs saved category. 

Defense is huge. The difference between extra outs and outs taken away play huge roles in crooked numbers and crooked numbers play huge roles in wins and losses. 

 

Defense is huge. 

 

However... there are some amazing defensive CF'er's on the beach because they can't hit enough to out play the average defensive CF. 

 

Buxton has to hit. 

 

 

 

Buxton hasn't been caught stealing since the Nixon administration

Cynthia?

    • Riverbrian likes this

 

Defense is huge. The difference between extra outs and outs taken away play huge roles in crooked numbers and crooked numbers play huge roles in wins and losses. 

 

Defense is huge. 

 

However... there are some amazing defensive CF'er's on the beach because they can't hit enough to out play the average defensive CF. 

 

Buxton has to hit. 

The hard cold truth is that his glove cannot do enough to counterbalance his horrific offense.We need to stop pushing his defense to the front of every conversation about him.Why sugarcoat things?

 

Centerfield is a very important position, but there are only a few small zones on the field where he can showcase his stuff.That just doesn't happen often enough.Historically CFs average a bit more than 2 putouts a game.That is about what Buxton averaged in 2017.  I put the numbers up already.

 

I have gotten a couple of responses from posters who think I don't value defense.Not true.

More like I understand that one player can only do so much defensively.Not his fault he isn't going to get enough chances to neutralize his poor bat, that is just how it is

 

 

 

 

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yarnivek1972
Jan 14 2019 05:36 PM

"Serious money."

This common perception has had a lot of evidence-supported pushback. Buxton is in the situation he finds himself in largely based on what he has thus far accomplished (or not).

Which begs the question... how much is a player worth during his arb years strictly based on promise versus actual performance? "Hurt feelings" aside, the fact remains, when/(if) Buck finally has the monster season (7+ fWAR), the big extension offer will come in, and in the process he stands to make back all of the money he "lost" during this first round of arb-eligibility.


In reality, the “extra year” probably will end up helping Buxton financially.

Let’s say Buxton continues to be all glove, no hit (OPS+ in the 80s). He’ll have an extra year of arbitration instead of being a free agent. As a free agent with that resume, he’d be lucky to get a guaranteed MLB contract. In arbitration, he figures to get steady raises. Of course, if Buxton is still OPS+ in the 80 range, the Twins could (and probably should) release or non-tender him before his 4th year of arbitration.


Conversely, let’s say he gets it together and maybe OPS+ of 100-110 for his final 2 years of arb. Well, if he was a FA a year earlier, would a team be convinced the one season was real or would he have to settle for a “prove it” deal? But with that second year of success, a team - likely several teams - would be willing to roll the dice. Now he hits FA at a still young 29 at his apex and can probably pick his team.

The only way this ends up costing Buxton any serious amount of money is if he does well the next three years and then gets hurt in 2022.

It should be noted that if he does well the next 3 years, it’s pretty likely he is offered an extension. If he doesn’t take it, well. That’s on him.

With regard to this side discussion on offense vs.defense and which has more value, I ask everyone this:

 

Would you rather have been the Red Sox or the Diamondbacks last year?The Diamondbacks had the most defensive runs saved BY FAR with 157 and the Red Sox were down at 23rd with -26 for a DRS.Saving 157 is RIDICULOUS and Arizona was 82-80.Guess who scored the most runs in baseball in 2017?Houston and they had -11 defensive runs saved.Didn't seem to matter that much because they hit.Saving runs is a good thing.I want guys saving runs as much as possible, but what are we talking about here?  THis is about putting it in its proper perspective. 


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