Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account


Verified Member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Blog Entries posted by jharaldson

  1. jharaldson

    Business of Baseball
    As this lockout stretches on I have been thinking back to the last time this happened.  The year was 1994 and Friends had just premiered on NBC, OJ Simpson captured all of our interest while slowly evading police in his white Bronco, and the MLB and MLBPA buzzkilled my fall by killing baseball and the World Series.  I thought it might be fun to take the issues that were being discussed during that work stoppage and see in hindsight who had it right.
    Drug Testing 
    In 1994 the owners submitted a drug testing program as part of their proposal for a labor agreement.  Selig commented on this in testimony to Congress later:
    While MLB gave up way too quickly on this, it was the MLBPA that pushed back.  David Cone, a rep for the players at the time, had some negative memories of his experience:
    In retrospect, with all of the issues impacting the Hall of Fame and the steroid class that followed I would say that the players truly screwed up this part of the negotiations.
    As part of their proposal to the players the MLB was willing to reduce the years of team control from 6 years to 4 years:
    The players maintained a hardline opposition to a hard cap, which the owners had tied this proposal to, and ultimately rejected it.  In 2022 they have given up on their request to remove 1 year of team control and are now shooting for more Super 2 status.  In addition, the good, young players of this generation are feeling some pressure to sign early extensions that are team friendly because of the team control and I bet they would appreciate being 2 years closer to free agency now.  Another loss in hindsight for the players.
    In 1994 the owners submitted a proposal where they would split revenues with the players 50/50 in exchange for a hard cap across all team.  The players rejected this equal distribution of revenue and instead compromised on a luxury tax that is not based on revenue and has effectively been used as a cap since.  In 2021, the payroll for all teams was roughly $4B while the revenue for all teams was roughly $12B.  My math has that at a 33% distribution which means the revered Donald Fehr and the MLB Players negotiated themselves a deal where they earn 17% less revenue.  In 2021 that means the players could have earned $2B more under the owners 1994 proposal.  I don't think that all would have gone to the best players either because even with all that new obligation I would think that the Angels would not increase the money they pay Trout from $37M a year to $56M a year and it would likely mean a lot bigger floor of minimum salaries to meet the %50 revenue obligation.  I would call this a 3rd strike for players.
    In short, we wouldn't have had the steroid era as badly, players could be free agents 2 years quicker, players would be making 50% more, and we would have had a 1994 World Series if the players hadn't declared a strike and accepted the owners offer.  If only Mr. Peabody's Wayback machine was real?

  2. jharaldson
    This Twins have had a bit of a tortured history with analytics. In 2010 Rob Antony did an interview with TwinsDaily’s own Parker Hageman and revealed some interesting facts about the Twins and Sabermetrics. Antony stated this about their analytics department, “we're probably one of the last, if not the last, team to address it with a person dedicated solely to that.”. He went on further to fail to understand some fairly basic concepts about Sabermetrics. He thought FIP was “first strike in inning pitched” and was unable to guess about BABIP. He then revealed they had just hired their analytics guy and stated he would be “Gathering information and creating databases. This will be his first year. The guy that we brought in will start creating systems to build a foundation of our own that we can look at.” This is what I primarily want to get into as I have a background in IT.
    In corporate America one of the techniques we use to understand what our competition is doing is to analyze their job postings. Have they posted an unusually large amount of Sales positions? Are they looking at specific geographic locations that have a concentration of talent? Are they asking for specific or unusual technical skills? These are all things we can look at to try to get an idea of intent and structure. I applied this technique to the Twins and their development job postings and found some interesting things.
    2014 Posting
    2015 Posting
    One of the common details in both job postings is the fact that the Twins were looking for a developer who had experience doing front-end work (HTML, JavaScript), middle tier (.NET Framework, ASP.MVC), and the data layer (SQL Server). This implies a couple of things. The first is that the Twins are employing a standard three-tier architecture for their analytics.

    It also implies that they only have “full stack” developers, which means they are required to know and to be able to develop in all 3 of their architecture tiers. This is problematic because is you are required to be able to code in everything that usually means you are unable to specialize or gain really in-depth knowledge on any single tier. For the Twins to take the next step in analytics I think they need to be hiring specialists in each of these areas.
    Another thing I noticed is that the only data store they referred to is SQL Server. The reason that this is important is that the industry still values relational datamarts like SQL Server but they are also moving in the direction of unstructured Big Data repositories as well. Applications like Hadoop, HBASE, MongoDB, and many others allow unstructured data to be quickly stored and analyzed which allows for more experimentation by analysts when compared to a structured DB. I think the PITCH f/x and Trackman data has likely been analyzed enough but I think the next frontier is going into some less structured data. Putting medical records into a big data store and analyzing test results and notes to find patterns in identifying healthier players. Putting free text scouting reports into it and running natural language analytics on them using IBM Watson or some other AI service to identify key language or sentiments that indicate a player that is more likely to succeed. The addition of weather data and the analysis of its impact on specific players. I think there is a lot of room to grow here.
    In short, I think it is likely this lack of specialization and not embracing the newer Big Data technologies led Thad Levine and Derek Falvey to go in a new direction this last fall with the analytics department. I wouldn’t be surprised if the hiring surge described in a recent article by Pat Reusse did not include hires to address these concerns. I am interested in your thoughts and feedback.
  3. jharaldson
    It is no secret that this offseason has been particularly slow. Judd Zulgad and Phil Mackey had a conversation about it this week on their radio show because the lack of news was taking the excitement out of the offseason. ESPN has set up a free agency tracker and only 2 of the top 10 free agents have signed and only 7 of the top 20 overall. The 4 top pitchers in this market are unsigned as well (Darvish, Arrieta, Cobb, Lynn). This glut of unsigned talent this late in the offseason leaves teams with unique opportunities.
    I think the Twins can take advantage of how the market has played out to do something innovative with Yu Darvish. Here are some baseline items I believe are contributing to his unsigned status:
    The Yankees and the Dodgers are staying out of the market due to a desire to reset the luxury tax threshold and by doing so they are creating a void that has yet to be filled.
    Darvish has likely not received any 5 or 6 year offers at this point or I think he would have signed.
    The world series performance by Darvish may be leaving a bad taste in the mouths of many clubs.

    Here are some baseline items in regards to the Twins:
    The Twins have a large bubble payment of $50-68 million coming in Q1 2018 from the MLB sale of BAMTech (Correct Source)
    The Twins need pitching help in the starting rotation, preferably someone with top of the rotation potential.
    The Twins are adverse to long-term free agent contracts which I am putting at anything over 4 years.

    My idea is for the Twins to offer Darvish a massively over market contract for 1 year. Here are the details:
    1 year/$40 million
    Vesting team option for a second year at $15 million if Darvish does not pitch at least 100 innings.
    Majority of the $40 million is in the form of a signing bonus so as to allow a tax favorable payment to Darvish with his current residency being in Texas, a state with no income tax.

    This deal is advantageous to both parties given the current climate. Darvish gets a number of positive outcomes:
    Extremely high salary for 1 year.
    Significant tax savings.
    The ability to re-enter the market in 2019 when the Dodgers and Yankees will theoretically be back in the mix.
    The chance to put the bad World Series performance out of teams minds.
    Ability to play with a team with good outfield defense and that is on the rise.

    The Twins get a number of things in return as well:
    They get the services of a potential ace pitcher, similar to what they did in 1991 with Jack Morris.
    The Twins are not on the hook for a massive 5+ year contract.
    The Twins have a dedicated funding source (BAMTech money) to fund this initiative. If they don’t spend it in this fashion it is likely just going to go to the Pohlad family and won’t improve the team.
    The Twins are protected in case of injury due to the team option provision.

    Will the Twins try to innovate in this fashion? I am not certain. This would be the highest per year contract ever given out in MLB history. The current leader is Greinke with a per year average of $34.5 million. The Pohlad’s have not shown a willingness to be big spenders on the open market and Falvine have yet to show it as well. Darvish may also have some apprehension. He may decide that a 4 year/$100 million offer provides more security. He may blow out his arm at any point in 2018 and want the security of the long term contract, even if it is not as long term and as valuable as he might have hoped.
    What are your thoughts? Do you like this 1 year approach? Who do you think says no? Please leave comments, thanks!
  4. jharaldson
    I have been kicking around the idea of trying to contribute to this site for a number of years. John Bonnes recently posted about the future of Twins Daily and how it might be in jeopardy if more writers and bloggers don’t step forward so that was enough of a kick in the pants to see if my ideas will translate to interesting articles or not. This blog is going to focus on the off the field happenings of the Minnesota Twins. Topics will include free agency, contracts, trades, payroll, drafting, staff decisions, tv and radio deals, medical issues, etc… My first entry will be posted immediately after this and is about an innovative approach the Twins can take on signing Yu Darvish. Hope you enjoy!
  • Create New...