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Thread: Article: Terry Ryan's Foolish Gamble

  1. #1
    Owner All-Star John Bonnes's Avatar
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    Article: Terry Ryan's Foolish Gamble


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    Owner MVP Seth Stohs's Avatar
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    I personally think that the Twins/Terry Ryan saw Zumaya as a risk-reward signing that they made because it was Zumaya. I don't think that they signed Zumaya in place of someone else. That's just a guess, of course, as it appeared more to me that they didn't really have any interest in the likes of Wheeler, Coffey, etc. I don't think there was a backup plan because I think Zumaya was a bonus plan.

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    The mistake wasn't sign Zumaya, the mistake was signing Capps, and not signing three other guys for the same price, plus Zumaya. Had they done that, they'd be in fine shape right now. Or, even if you sign Capps, you sign Zumaya and another RP or two. But the Twins didn't seem to understand the law of supply and demand from the beginning of this offseason when it came to RP.
    Lighten up Francis....

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    Senior Member All-Star Thrylos's Avatar
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    I have zero problem with the Zumaya signing. I'd rather see the Twins "gamble" for someone with a high upside than playing it safe with mediocre signings. And they are down $400K. Good seed money for a kid whose career is pretty much done as a player. Bringing in a mediocre veteran reliever or two would not have made much difference (as a matter of fact thay got 3 of those in camp in Gray, Burton and Bulger, albeit in better terms.)
    I really feel confident that some of the younger pitchers in the camp will step it up and make things happen for the Twins this season...
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    Senior Member Big-Leaguer Highabove's Avatar
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    John Gets it. Another good reason to come here.
    Last edited by Highabove; 02-26-2012 at 06:33 PM.

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    Did you talk to Terry Ryan? On the surface your theory is plausible but I wouldn't call it a foolish gamble. I'd call it Twins Baseball.

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    It cost the Twins $400,000. Hardly a gamble or foolish. I hope given a similar choice next year, they will take the same chance on a player.

    Easier to argue that signing Capps or Marquis was a foolish gamble.

    How about Coffey or Wheeler as a gamble?

    Below is player values from fangraphs for the two.

    Coffey
    2010 - $0.2 (0.0 WAR)
    2011 - $2.1 (0.5 WAR)

    Wheeler
    2010 - $0.3 (0.1 WAR)
    2011 - $1.6 (0.4 WAR)

    Projections for both put them with a season somewhere between the last two. The expected value might be 1.1 million and a WAR of 0.3 with little upside and a realistic chance of another season of almost no value. At best, their signing might make a WAR difference of 0.5. It would have been foolish to sign them and any money over the minimum would be a gamble.

    I would rather invest the innings in players with an upside.

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    Junior Member Rookie PSzalapski's Avatar
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    John, $400K really that big of a gamble? Suppose the chance was 20% that Zumaya could even contribute. Isn't that worth the risk?

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    Owner MVP Seth Stohs's Avatar
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    Well stated jorgen. The guys that so many want provide no upside anyway. That's why I will continue to stand by the idea of promoting from within and with minor league signings. It just makes sense.

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    John's point, I think, is that Zumaya wasn't a bad gamble, but only Zumaya was....as in, you have to sign more than just a guy who is "likely" to break down. In a vacuum, not a bad decision. Stopping signing other RPs because you've signed Zumaya, that is a bad gamble. I think that's John's arguement.

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    Owner All-Star John Bonnes's Avatar
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    First, WAR is a terrible metric with which to measure relievers. It completely ignores the context of the innings in which they work. Late innings in which relievers work are far more important in determining a game. Putting a very good reliever in a critical late-inning role can produce a WPA worth several games, much better than their WAR.

    Second, the goal of a GM isn't to invest innings or to get a good return on the money spent. Those are means to a greater end, which is winning games. Those other things are nice, but in this case, the goal was to find a pitcher to fill an important role. And it wasn't done, and from the beginning, the chances of it working were negligible, and the dropoff if it didn't work was huge.

    And this doesn't mean the Twins shouldn't have the philosophy of promoting guys from within. But when that person is not on the roster, then it's the job of the GM to use a different tool as his disposal. Ryan could've signed a lot of guys instead of Zumaya. He didn't. He could've signed a lot of guys AND Zumaya, which would've been even better. He didn't. He rolled the dice, and the loss isn't $400k. The loss is 50 or so critical innings to which the Twins now have no answer.

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    Owner All-Star John Bonnes's Avatar
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    I'll make one more point that I made back when Zumaya was signed. It's a forced analogy, I'll grant.

    It's not a bad gamble to buy lotto tickets if the payout is high enough. After enough people have paid in enough money, you can make an argument that spending a $1 on the lotto isn't a bad bet. So it's defensible to spend $10 on some lotto tickets. Hell, in moderation, if you have some extra money and want to spend them on some lotto tickets, go for it.

    But, if you're down to your last $10, just about out of gas, you spend the $10 the $10 on gas that can get you to work, not on 10 lotto tickets. That was the situation Ryan faced, even if we didn't recognize it. He spent his last money, innings and offseason move on a high-risk, high reward guy, when all he needed was some gas.

  13. #13
    Senior Member All-Star Thrylos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
    First, WAR is a terrible metric with which to measure relievers. It completely ignores the context of the innings in which they work. Late innings in which relievers work are far more important in determining a game. Putting a very good reliever in a critical late-inning role can produce a WPA worth several games, much better than their WAR.
    Music to my ears

    Love WPA, btw
    a couple of questions:

    a. Survey says, Joel Zumaya's WPA is 2.38 over 5 seasons; please find a reliever at that price who can do better
    b. Can we have a write up about Mike Cuddyer's WPA?
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Big-Leaguer Highabove's Avatar
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    Whats real crazy is to spend Five Million on a Closer and next to nothing torwards setting him up.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Big-Leaguer minn55441's Avatar
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    Zumaya was a great gamble. No downside if it doesn't pan out (which he didn't). Huge upside if it does pays off. $400K is peanuts when you are talking about a $100 million payroll team. If Zumaya had made 10 to 15 appearances by the all-star break with a with a WHIP of 1.2 or less and then he was forced out of action because of an injury everyone would be calling Terry a genius. He just bought half a season of relief for little to nothing. It just looks bad because he broke down while still in Spring Training (ok, early in spring training). Terry took a gamble on a number of pitchers that are highly motivated to make their mark or get back to the majors. If you invite 10 of those guys, you might hit the jackpot with 1 or 2. That is why we started with 33 pitchers this year. You hear it in every interview Terry Ryan has given this spring. He is giving players a chance, it is up to each of those players to take advantage of that chance? I think that was the real frustration from last year. We just didn't have the numbers, both in terms of position players and pitchers. We called guys up and when they didn't produce, there were no options. Players were on the major league roster by default. We didn't have the option of sending them down and calling someone else up and give them a chance.

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    Owner All-Star John Bonnes's Avatar
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    WPA isn't a predictive metric. My point wasn't that we should be comparing WPAs of these guys. My point is that comparing a relievers WAR (which mostly gives a shorthand value of his stats) to his WPA (which shows how useful he was in winning games) shows how significant the inning he worked were. Zumaya worked some very significant innings very well prior to mid-2010. That doesn't mean bringing in a competent reliever wouldn't have also had a significant impact (and WPA).

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    Senior Member Big-Leaguer minn55441's Avatar
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    I think Capps is going to surprise people this season. The saves will depend on how the team plays, but I have a feeling he is going to pitch well. He spent a year with Gardy and Rick, they know how dinged up he was last year. I'm sure they were part of the decision to bring him back. Nathan may end up with more saves, but I won't be surprised if Capps out pitches Nathan this year

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    John,

    Don't want an argument over metrics to distract from the discussion.

    Coffey
    2010 - $0.2 (-.99 WPA)
    2011 - $2.1 (-.04 WPA)

    Wheeler
    2010 - $0.3 (-.80 WPA)
    2011 - $1.6 (.33 WPA)

    I don't see how this metric better supports either of these veteran relievers, but I do concede the point.

    My point... Let's invest the innings and dollars in pitchers with an upside.

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    But, if you're down to your last $10, just about out of gas, you spend the $10 the $10 on gas that can get you to work, not on 10 lotto tickets. That was the situation Ryan faced, even if we didn't recognize it.
    To a major league team, $400k is the change you put in your car's ashtray after you've bought a few Capps-sized burritos at the Taco Bell Drive-Thru. Is there evidence that the $400k spent on Zumaya actually prevented Ryan from signing other relievers, as that analogy implies? I certainly get the argument that the Twins should/could have had more contingency plans in case Zumaya went down, but if that kind of investment is high-risk (analogous to spending your last $10 on lottery tickets), then there are bigger problems with the team than the bullpen.

  20. #20
    Excellent analysis, John. This is why I want to come to this site. We are now back to the old, penny wise and pound foolish Terry Ryan. We've seen this before when he didn't try to sign Hunter, who was offering a large hometown discount in the year before free agency. Pitching this year was cheaper than I ever remember, yet the only addition to the staff was Jason Marquis, the very essence of mediocrity. Most of the cut in the Twins payroll comes from reducing the amount paid to pitchers; hardly a way to improve one of the worst staffs in the AL last year. To think that all your pitching problems will be solved by better defense, anchored by a 38 year-old journeyman shortstop is folly. I suspect we will hit just fine this year, but collapse from poor pitching. By mid-season, we could be looking at a fire sale and complete overhaul.

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