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Article: Don't Panic Over Bad Breaks For Twins Rotation

ervin santana
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#21 ashburyjohn

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 04:15 PM

Also, I completely don’t understand any consternation over the opt out. Any.

Suppose the FO has crunched all the numbers on a 5-year contract for an over-30 player, and feels like it barely is acceptable. It includes a risk that the player's performance is bad in year 1, another risk that he's what they hoped for in year 1 but drops off the cliff in year 2, and so on and so forth. Lots of combinations, flips of the coin so to speak, adding up to about the value they are offering.

 

Now, add an opt-out, and suppose 2 years later when the opt-out can be exercised that the player does indeed leave. That means, as we're all agreeing, that the team has done very well for itself and should be pleased with the return on investment so far.

 

However, what has this new information, about 2 more years of performance, done to the computation of risks going forward? Almost certainly, it means that the risk of a sudden decline to worthlessness in year 3 has become reduced greatly, ditto the succeeding years. But the team doesn't get to reap the benefits of these flips of the coin. The player has walked. Those "good" coin flips were part of the original computation.

 

Conversely if the player doesn't walk, the universe of outcomes relating to the remaining risks for years 3-5, respectively, have gone upward from the initial estimates. Because, if he doesn't walk, something bad has happened in years 1-2. All the "bad" coin flips remain on the club's debit sheet.

 

The risk doesn't remain static. It changes as you see the actual outcomes. That's the flaw in the argument.

 

It is the essence of the "heads I win, tails you lose" game, to the player's advantage. I have a hard time believing it's only a small difference in dollars. He can't earn less than $126M now, but if he does well for two years and the market goes nuts in some way (or just normalizes to what he thought he'd get), he could receive a lot more. And it leaves essentially unchanged the odds of the Cubs having to work around dead money, while reducing the positive value they potentially can receive from a mutually guaranteed contract instead. It helps the player, it costs the team. It probably puts the Cubs contract as an actuarial equivalent to, say, what a normal guaranteed $140M contract would bring him - close to what was originally forecast.

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#22 Nick Nelson

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 04:25 PM

 

And the rest of us would at least like the possibility of 2 years of a really good pitcher, but not signing him completely eliminates that possibility. And just like always, we aren't using that "saved" money on anything else worthwhile.

I guess my issue here is the idea that Darvish is drastically more likely to "really good pitcher" than anyone else the Twins still have access to. Why are we being so presumptive about what they're doing with their "saved" money? And why are we all treating Darvish like he's a bona fide ace?

 

 

Nick, your December article on Darvish was spot on. The Twins whiffed on a huge opportunity to sign him. Thoughts?

Thanks, and good question. I realize I've swung quite a bit since writing the piece you mentioned.

 

While I was clearly optimistic a month ago, through talking to some people around the team as January progressed, it became fairly clear to me that Darvish wasn't gonna happen. So I'm past the denial and anger stages. And now, seeing the deal he ended up with, it's easier to find acceptance. I get why people disagree, but to me that's an unattractive contract for a team in Minnesota's position.

 

Seems to me they made a solid effort to get him and came up short against a legendary big-market franchise. Doesn't necessarily reflect poorly on the Twins nor doom them. 

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#23 Danchat

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 04:27 PM

 

Opening day? Like, if they do nothing between now and the day before opening day, no biggie?

They have also shown no ability to fix the rotation. They didn't last year, and they didn't during the season, and they have not this year.

I also fail to see anything good about losing their second best pitcher for at least five starts....

Like, if they do nothing between now and just before opening day, that's a very big biggie. Then it would be time to panic.

 

I don't think we've seen a big enough sample size to say they've shown "no ability" to fix the rotation. They stuck with Santana, used Santiago and Mejia (of whom were acquired at the 2016 deadline), plugged Berrios back in a month in the season, and got mixed results from Gibson. Was it a failure that they added nobody to the rotation last season? I wouldn't say so, but they probably should have added one arm as they needed Colon down the stretch. Getting Berrios and Mejia innings last year was more important than giving a mediocre starter a spot (the biggest deals for starters last year was Rich Hill 3/$48M and Ivan Nova 3/$26M).

 

Free agency has been slow as molasses so far, but if the Twins fail to get Cobb/Lynn and don't trade for Archer/Odorizzi, then this has been a failure of a offseason for the rotation - but we definitely have not arrived at that point yet.


#24 jimmer

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 04:33 PM

The goalposts keep being moved.Every time we go into an offseason, we read people who constantly defended the organization say 'well, if THIS offseason they don't do anything to truly address the rotation as it needs to be, THEN I'll complain'Then the team's lack of doing anything meaningful to address THE major concern we've had for years once again gets defended or even lauded as the right move after all, or as no biggy. And with Santana out for awhile, our rotation is even worse.

 

It gets old.

 

I understand this is a new FO, and it has done some things to help the bullpen as needed, but the rotation is just as much in shambles and nothing has been done, and two days from now, pitchers and catchers report.Maybe we sign a #3 or #4 type to add to our ever growing list of uninspired options. These kind of moves don't get it done.

 

And it's not like I ever thought we'd get Darvish, that's not my point.NOTHING has been done. But then, I'm sure NEXT offseason, they'll really address the rotation.Just wait...

Edited by jimmer, 11 February 2018 - 04:49 PM.

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#25 S.

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 04:38 PM

 

I guess my issue here is the idea that Darvish is drastically more likely to "really good pitcher" than anyone else the Twins still have access to. Why are we being so presumptive about what they're doing with their "saved" money? And why are we all treating Darvish like he's a bona fide ace?

Honest question, who else do the Twins still have access to that has the same ceiling as Darvish?

 

I don't think anyone is treating him like a bona fide ace (or I certainly don't see him that way), but he was the closest to an ace that we're ever likely to sign in free agency. There is no way we're signing someone like Kershaw in FA and we'd have to gut our entire farm system to trade for someone who is already an established, bona fide ace. And we clearly haven't been doing a very good job of developing our own bona fide aces.

 

The presumption with the saved money is based off of history. The Twins are not taking the money saved from the last decade of not signing big FAs so they can throw 300 million at Kershaw next year. They're not stockpiling that money for future signings. They are putting that money back in their pocket and then its gone. There isn't some saved up reserve from all our unimpressive offseason or anything like that. I mean, sure, they can take some of the money they "saved" by not signing Darvish and go sign Cobb or whoever this offseason but I don't consider that a serious win or something that is going to give us a great chance in a wild card game or a playoff series against a real contender. 

 

Edit: I should add, of course not signing a big free agent gives you more flexibility with money down the line, but what big name pitchers are we really going to be in the running for next offseason? David Price? No thanks. Every year we delay going for it, we lose time on our current young, reasonably priced, offensive core. The longer we delay, the more expensive that young core gets. And then some of them are going to go elsewhere and some of them are going to age and decline and at some point if you want to really contend you have to stop worrying about, "well, what about the impact that might have on our payroll in 5 years?" because your window of contention may be long gone by then.

Edited by S., 11 February 2018 - 04:49 PM.

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#26 mikelink45

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 04:57 PM

Its over with.The only thing worth discussing is what we are going to do with the assets we have of the players we can still sign or trade for.I was tired of the Darvish posts already, please lets stop - the Cubs have him.What will we do?

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#27 USAFChief

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 04:58 PM

Suppose the FO has crunched all the numbers on a 5-year contract for an over-30 player, and feels like it barely is acceptable. It includes a risk that the player's performance is bad in year 1, another risk that he's what they hoped for in year 1 but drops off the cliff in year 2, and so on and so forth. Lots of combinations, flips of the coin so to speak, adding up to about the value they are offering.
 
Now, add an opt-out, and suppose 2 years later when the opt-out can be exercised that the player does indeed leave. That means, as we're all agreeing, that the team has done very well for itself and should be pleased with the return on investment so far.
 
However, what has this new information, about 2 more years of performance, done to the computation of risks going forward? Almost certainly, it means that the risk of a sudden decline to worthlessness in year 3 has become reduced greatly, ditto the succeeding years. But the team doesn't get to reap the benefits of these flips of the coin. The player has walked. Those "good" coin flips were part of the original computation.
 
Conversely if the player doesn't walk, the universe of outcomes relating to the remaining risks for years 3-5, respectively, have gone upward from the initial estimates. Because, if he doesn't walk, something bad has happened in years 1-2. All the "bad" coin flips remain on the club's debit sheet.
 
The risk doesn't remain static. It changes as you see the actual outcomes. That's the flaw in the argument.
 
It is the essence of the "heads I win, tails you lose" game, to the player's advantage. I have a hard time believing it's only a small difference in dollars. He can't earn less than $126M now, but if he does well for two years and the market goes nuts in some way (or just normalizes to what he thought he'd get), he could receive a lot more. And it leaves essentially unchanged the odds of the Cubs having to work around dead money, while reducing the positive value they potentially can receive from a mutually guaranteed contract instead. It helps the player, it costs the team. It probably puts the Cubs contract as an actuarial equivalent to, say, what a normal guaranteed $140M contract would bring him - close to what was originally forecast.


And if he does well, the Twins are off the hook for the risk of years 3-6.

Which, BTW, is many people’s big hang up in the first place.

And they could still resign him, even if he does opt out.
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#28 old nurse

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 05:00 PM

 

As opposed to being GUARANTEED to be stuck with a declining and not super effective pitcher if there is no opt out?

Again...the only real negative possibility is he exceeds expectations and departs. And I don’t see that as much of a negative.

I can't see where it would be much of a positive if he did not opt out for under performing the contract.


#29 Jacksson

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 05:01 PM

The Twins being willing to take on the last year of Span's contract would give them a leg up on other trading partners interested in either Archer or Odorizzi and also lower the cost to the Twins to acquire either one in terms of players.


#30 ashburyjohn

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 05:01 PM

And if he does well, the Twins are off the hook for the risk of years 3-6.

Which, BTW, is many people’s big hang up in the first place.

And they could still resign him, even if he does opt out.

You're looking at the favorable coin flips only.

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#31 Mike Sixel

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 05:03 PM

The Twins being willing to take on the last year of Span's contract would give them a leg up on other trading partners interested in either Archer or Odorizzi and also lower the cost to the Twins to acquire either one in terms of players.


I'm betting anyone willing to trade for Archer will take span's money. I'm betting most teams don't like the other guy all that much.

Edited by Mike Sixel, 11 February 2018 - 05:09 PM.

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#32 S.

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 05:04 PM

 

I can't see where it would be much of a positive if he did not opt out for under performing the contract.

If he pitches poorly, the end result is the exact same regardless of if there is an opt out or not. The opt out really only comes into play if he pitches well for 2 years. Maybe I'm misunderstanding Chief, but i think a big part of the issue is that we weren't even willing to offer it.

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#33 USAFChief

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 05:11 PM

I can't see where it would be much of a positive if he did not opt out for under performing the contract.

Again...in that case you’re in the EXACT SAME POSITION as if there was no opt out clause. Paying for years 3-6.

Actually, you’re most likely in a BETTER position, since you probably paid less for a contract with an opt out.
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#34 USAFChief

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 05:16 PM

You're looking at the favorable coin flips only.


Sorry Ash, I disagree. Strongly.

You’re ignoring the negatives of not signing him at all, and strongly overrating the guaranteed years 3-6 that nobody really wants anyway.

Not one person would be opposed to $2/42. But if it’s that because he DID TOO WELL.. now it’s a bad deal?
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#35 KirbyDome89

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 05:17 PM

 

Suppose the FO has crunched all the numbers on a 5-year contract for an over-30 player, and feels like it barely is acceptable. It includes a risk that the player's performance is bad in year 1, another risk that he's what they hoped for in year 1 but drops off the cliff in year 2, and so on and so forth. Lots of combinations, flips of the coin so to speak, adding up to about the value they are offering.

 

Now, add an opt-out, and suppose 2 years later when the opt-out can be exercised that the player does indeed leave. That means, as we're all agreeing, that the team has done very well for itself and should be pleased with the return on investment so far.

 

However, what has this new information, about 2 more years of performance, done to the computation of risks going forward? Almost certainly, it means that the risk of a sudden decline to worthlessness in year 3 has become reduced greatly, ditto the succeeding years. But the team doesn't get to reap the benefits of these flips of the coin. The player has walked. Those "good" coin flips were part of the original computation.

 

Conversely if the player doesn't walk, the universe of outcomes relating to the remaining risks for years 3-5, respectively, have gone upward from the initial estimates. Because, if he doesn't walk, something bad has happened in years 1-2. All the "bad" coin flips remain on the club's debit sheet.

 

The risk doesn't remain static. It changes as you see the actual outcomes. That's the flaw in the argument.

 

It is the essence of the "heads I win, tails you lose" game, to the player's advantage. I have a hard time believing it's only a small difference in dollars. He can't earn less than $126M now, but if he does well for two years and the market goes nuts in some way (or just normalizes to what he thought he'd get), he could receive a lot more. And it leaves essentially unchanged the odds of the Cubs having to work around dead money, while reducing the positive value they potentially can receive from a mutually guaranteed contract instead. It helps the player, it costs the team. It probably puts the Cubs contract as an actuarial equivalent to, say, what a normal guaranteed $140M contract would bring him - close to what was originally forecast.

I understand there is a cost for missed opportunity if years 3-5 may have been better than expected, but I think the risk of decline in those years weights heavily as well. The slope of the decline curve isn't necessarily constant. Lets say years 1 and 2 are great, then he walks and has another good season in year 3. There is nothing to suggest his performance can't drop precipitously, especially at a position as volatile as pitcher.

 

I agree that the risk of negative performance hurting the team is the same in either scenario. Poor performance with an opt out guarantees the player stays and a contract without an option does the same. 

 

You're right, the risk is never static, but that works both ways. Really all we can work with is data that says performance dips as players age, when and how rapidly the dip occurs is anybody's guess. 

 

I wouldn't go as far as calling it "heads I win, tails you lose." If that player walks the team has received value beyond what they paid for. In the game of FA you can't ask for better. I wouldn't call that a loss. There is potential to lose out on future performance, but I think getting out from underneath the risk of decline, especially considering Darvish's will be in his late 30s, is at worst a fair trade off. From the player's perspective I would call it "we each win, but me a little more so." 

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#36 Vanimal46

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 05:17 PM

I get why people tend to jump to this seemingly great outcome. But from a strategic standpoint, this kind of arrangement is just a real drag.

You can't plan around him opting out, so in practical terms there isn't much benefit to the possibility of a 2 year/$42 million deal. They WOULD, however, have to plan around the reality that if he doesn't opt out, it probably means they're stuck with a declining and not super-effective pitcher consuming ~20% of their payroll for four more years.

You know I'm with you in being put off by extreme risk-aversion, but I don't think this exemplifies that.

Well, if he doesn't opt-out, then they're on the hook for the terms they agreed to this off-season.

In regards to Darvish I think he will produce positive contributions to his team later in his career either in the rotation or bullpen.

If we're talking about bad contracts in general, most every team can afford 1-2 on a team. Is Hughes' relatively dead money hindering the Twins from going after Darvish types in FA?

Edited by Vanimal46, 11 February 2018 - 05:17 PM.

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#37 Mr. Brooks

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 05:22 PM

I guess my issue here is the idea that Darvish is drastically more likely to "really good pitcher" than anyone else the Twins still have access to. Why are we being so presumptive about what they're doing with their "saved" money? And why are we all treating Darvish like he's a bona fide ace?


This post seems contradictory to the following, which you wrote in your previous article:

"Darvish would be an awesome fit on the Twins and would lift them to serious championship contender status almost instantly."

What FA pitchers remaining do you think lift the Twins to serious championship contenders immediately?
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#38 twinssporto

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 05:26 PM

This is something to consider:  The Twins have been very quiet on the topic of not signing Darvish.  I have looked at numerous web sites, Startrib, Pioneer Press, ESPN, etc...very few comments from the Twins FO.  Has anyone seen a quote or post from the Twins FO?  

 

My guess is there is a lot going on right now.  I'm not thrilled with their plan B or C but something is cooking in a big way.

 

If the FO doesn't do anything the pitch forks will be coming out of the hay stacks (to quote River Brian in another post)...

 

You heard it here first. Trust me. 

 

I'm a Twins fan!

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#39 terrydactyls1947

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 05:31 PM

The Twins missed out on Darvish:maybe 18 wins at $22M.What if they sign both Cobb and Lynn:maybe 28 wins at $26M???


#40 KirbyDome89

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Posted 11 February 2018 - 05:39 PM

 

I'd like to at least have the possibility that he pitches really damn well and plays out the deal he signed. This setup basically eliminates it. 

 

IMO when a guy pushes for a contract like this he's betting against himself, and it doesn't strike me right. We all know he could easily sign a 3/4-year deal worth ~33% more annually and have yet another shot at getting paid afterward. He's looking for a team to take on all his risk, and now the Cubs are doing so. 

What player, when he hits FA for the first time (or any time,) doesn't push for the longest and/or most lucrative contract he can get? I don't think Darvish wanting the security of a long term contract is in any way unique to him, or an indictment on how he views himself going forward. I don't see that as betting against himself. 

 

If the option is the bet you're talking about I would argue he's in fact gambling on himself. If he performs at or above market value he has the opportunity to strike another big deal. 

 

 




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