Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Good morning everyone! I did it! Yes, I took a day off yesterday. A real day off. A day off when I didn't write anything new! Those of you who are new to this site may not realize that there have been a lot of times when I say I don't have anything to talk about or any time to write it up, and then I proceed to write 500 to 1,000 words But yesterday, nothing. And you don't know how guilty I felt about that. So, today, it is necessary for me to write! And, there is actually some stuff to write about, even Twins stuff! Today, I want to discuss the $6.8 million that Johan Santana is asking for in arbitration and comparing it to a few other players who, as of this writing, are going to have to go to arbitration. I think there are some pretty interesting numbers to look at. Carlos Silva and Kyle Lohse also exchanged numbers with the Twins yesterday.
WEATHER, or NOT - But first, I have to briefly discuss a couple of other topics, so bear with me. I have mentioned the weather here in Warroad the past few times I've written. On Monday morning, area low temperatures ranged from 37 below, to 43 below, to one friend who said the thermometer read 46 below at his place. Now that is cold! Well, by Wednesday morning when I woke up, it was up to seven degrees below zero. But by mid-morning, the temperatures were approaching 25 degrees ABOVE. However, with the added "heat," the skies opened and we got 3-5 inches of snow. That wasn't enough; the winds blew constantly throughout the day making visibility extremely difficult. I have a fairly long driveway. I don't have a snow blower, just a shovel! When I drove home from work today, there were drifts through my driveway. I couldn't tell where the "road" was. A friend followed me home and we ate, yapped, and I borrowed her a couple of movies. She left my place less than an hour later, and got stuck in my driveway. In that short time, our tracks from driving in had disappeared, and it was thick with snow. And not the nice, soft, easy to shovel snow. No, this is a heavy, compacted snow. We tried to push her car out, but couldn't. Someone had to come help pull her out of my driveway. Again, I love living in a rural area, and I love living in Northern Minnesota. I have to admit, days like these make me wish I lived in a more climate-friendly area!
REALITY CHECK - Also, I have to talk about the first episode of American Idol from last night! I am very excited to have it back! I missed seeing Simon Cowell be brutally honest, and Paula Abdul being way too nice and Randy Jackson just kind of being in the middle. Mark McGrath (aka Sugar Ray) did an excellent job as a guest judge. There did appear to be a lot of talent that will go to Hollywood. But there is nothing better than seeing those horrific singers who actually think that they are talented. I love the faces on that judges' faces, and the shock when the contestant is told that they will not be advancing. Did anyone else think that the woman who sold her wedding rings to a pawn shop for $200 for money to go to DC to try out was a little crazy?! It's on again tonight! And, again this year, once the actual contest begins, I will be doing some analysis of my own on the contestants. So, be sure to check back for that!
And finally, at the same time, NBC aired the reunion show of The Biggest Loser. Certainly no surprise that Dave continued to work out and eat right and won the $100,000 prize last night. Had he been in the final 3, he would have finished tied for second with Gary. Of course, had he stayed on the ranch and continued there, and had the $250,000 incentive, you have to wonder if he could have won.
I also need to write a full paragraph on the new episode of The Bachelorette. They brought back Jen Schefft. She was the "winner" of The Bachelor when Andrew Firestone was the bachelor. They were together for nine months and it just didn't work out. So, now she is the one making all of the choices. I also gave her her own paragraph just because then I can use two pictures, right?!
Any thoughts on American Idol or The Biggest Loser? I also watched Monday night's episode of The Bachelorette with my second favorite contestant, Jen (second only to Trista, of course). How about the guy that basically just asked for her autograph? You could read through that pretty easily! And The Apprentice 3 starts on Thursday. Oh, and CBS has announced the new contestants for the next Survivor. Basically, if you want to talk Reality TV, e-mail me!
Well, JC Romero signed a 2 year deal with the Twins on Sunday worth at least $3.7 million. However, yesterday's 11:00 a.m. deadline to sign players passed, and the Twins had not yet reached an agreement with arbitration-eligible pitchers Johan Santana, Kyle Lohse and Carlos Silva. That meant that the two sides had to exchange contract numbers that their sides will argue for in arbitration in February. Of course, the two sides can come to an agreement at any time before then. Here are what the players requested and what the Twins offered them:
Carlos Silva asked for $2.25 million and the Twins countered with $1.65 million. Silva made $340,000 in 2004.
Kyle Lohse asked for $2.4 million and the Twins countered with $2.15 million. Lohse made $395,000 in 2004.
Johan Santana asked for $6.8 million and the Twins countered with $5 million. Santana made $1.6 million last year when he actually lost his arbitration case.
Silva and Lohse are first-year arbitration-eligible players while this is Santana's second arbitration season.
Obviously the most important case is that of reigning Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana. The team would love to sign Santana long term, but I really don't know that it will happen. I think they will go to arbitration again this year, and maybe even next year. But the Twins have burnt a lot of bridges with the Santana camp in recent years. They took too long to make him a starter. And then before the 2003 season, they promised him a spot in the rotation and right before the season started, they signed Kenny Rogers and moved Johan back to the bullpen until midseason when he finally got to where he should be, the rotation! Santana is the best pitcher in baseball, with all due apologies to Randy Johnson. I would love the Twins to offer him 4 years and $45 million, but I don't see that happening. As one e-mailer told me, he'll go to arbitration this year, and probably be traded to a big market team the following year as the trade deadline approaches. I guess we'll see. Today, my loan purpose is to look at what Johan Santana has done and compare it to some like pitchers in similar situations.
To me, there were four other pitchers who either had a very good 2004 season, or are also second-year arbitration-eligible players. Like Johan Santana, Houston star Roy Oswalt, Dodgers starter Brad Penny and Milwaukee's Ben Sheets are second-year eligible. Carlos Zambrano to me was an interesting case as well. He had an excellent 2004 season and is in his first year of arbitration. He also spent some time in his career in the bullpen before finally moving into the rotation. Here is what those pitchers are asking for, being offered and what they made in 2004:
Johan Santana asked for $6.8 million and the Twins countered with $5 million. Santana made $1.6 million in 2004.
Roy Oswalt asked for $7.8 million and the Astros countered with $6 million. Oswalt made $3.25 million in 2004.
Ben Sheets asked for $6.5 million and the Brewers countered with $5.5 million. Sheets made $2.425 million in 2004.
Brad Penny asked for $5.7 million and the Dodgers countered with $4.7 million. Penny made $3.725 million in 2004.
Carlos Zambrano asked for $4 million and the Cubs countered with $3.3 million. Zambrano made $450,000 in 2004.
What I want to do is look at these five players, essentially ranking them in categories that I would consider important and worth comparing. If I was an arbitrator, I do think that what they did in 2004 would be important, especially if it could be used to show a player is improving or declining. But we also are told that a player's numbers over the past three seasons are also important, so I will compare these player's previous three seasons as well. So, here goes:
First, let's look at the 2004 numbers.
Innings Pitched: (shows that a pitcher helped his team get more outs throughout the season)
1.) Roy Oswalt - 237
1.) Ben Sheets - 237
3.) Johan Santana - 228
4.) Carlos Zambrano - 209.2
5.) Brad Penny - 143 (remember that Penny was hurt soon after being traded to Los Angeles)
Wins (although the statistic really doesn't accurately how good a pitcher performed, it will be looked at)
1.) Johan Santana - 20-6
1.) Roy Oswalt - 20-10
3.) Carlos Zambrano - 16-8
4.) Ben Sheets - 12-14
5.) Brad Penny - 9-10
Win % (same as Wins, but could be compared to the team's winning percentage - if you want to do that!)
1.) Johan Santana - 76.9%
2.) Roy Oswalt - 66.7%
2.) Carlos Zambrano - 66.7%
4.) Brad Penny - 47.4%
5.) Ben Sheets - 46.2%
Strikeouts: (How many outs did the pitcher record by himself?)
1.) Johan Santana - 265
2.) Ben Sheets - 264
3.) Roy Oswalt - 206
4.) Carlos Zambrano - 188
5.) Brad Penny - 111
Strikeouts per 9 innings (strikeout rate can show dominance by a pitcher)
1.) Johan Santana - 10.5
2.) Ben Sheets - 10.0
3.) Carlos Zambrano - 8.1
4.) Roy Oswalt - 7.8
5.) Brad Penny - 7.0
WHIP (Walks + Hits per Inning, shows how many baserunners the pitcher allows)
1.) Johan Santana - 0.92
2.) Ben Sheets - 0.98
3.) Brad Penny - 1.22
3.) Carlos Zambrano - 1.22
5.) Roy Oswalt - 1.24
Batting Average Against (similar, pretty self-explanatory)
1.) Johan Santana - .192
2.) Carlos Zambrano - .225
3.) Ben Sheets - .226
4.) Brad Penny - .243
5.) Roy Oswalt - .260
K/BB (Strikeouts per Walk, just gives an even better measurement of a pitcher's control too)
1.) Ben Sheets - 8.25 (incredible! 264 strikeouts, just 32 walks!)
2.) Johan Santana - 4.91
3.) Roy Oswalt - 3.32
4.) Brad Penny - 2.47
5.) Carlos Zambrano - 2.32
Now lets compare these pitchers' numbers over the past three seasons:
1.) Ben Sheets - 674 1/3
2.) Roy Oswalt - 597 1/3
3.) Carlos Zambrano - 532
4.) Johan Santana - 494 2/3
5.) Brad Penny - 468 2/3
1.) Roy Oswalt - (49-24)
2.) Johan Santana - (40-15)
3.) Ben Sheets - (34-43)
4.) Carlos Zambrano - (33-27)
5.) Brad Penny - (31-27)
1.) Johan Santana - 72.7%
2.) Roy Oswalt - 67.1%
3.) Carlos Zambrano - 55.0%
4.) Brad Penny - 53.4%
5.) Ben Sheets - 44.2%
1.) Ben Sheets - 591
2.) Johan Santana - 571
3.) Roy Oswalt - 522
4.) Carlos Zambrano - 449
5.) Brad Penny - 342
Strikeouts per 9 innings
1.) Johan Santana - 10.4
2.) Roy Oswalt - 7.9
2.) Ben Sheets - 7.9
4.) Carlos Zambrano - 7.6
5.) Brad Penny - 6.6
1.) Johan Santana - 1.05
2.) Roy Oswalt - 1.20
3.) Ben Sheets - 1.21
4.) Carlos Zambrano - 1.30
5.) Brad Penny - 1.33
1.) Ben Sheets - 4.08
2.) Johan Santana - 3.81
3.) Roy Oswalt - 3.41
4.) Brad Penny - 2.26
5.) Carlos Zambrano - 1.89
WHAT I LEARNED...
First thin I learned is that Brad Penny has no right to be included with the other pitchers on this list. Sure, he's a decent pitcher who had success in the World Series a couple of years ago, but he just doesn't compare to the top pitchers. Johan Santana was incredible in 2005 (no surprise to anyone!), but I am surprised with how his numbers stack up against Sheets and Oswalt who have always started, over the past three years. He is also the youngest of the three. Sheets had an incredible 2004 season, but was average the previous two seasons. But, Wow!, did he rack up some innings!? Roy Oswalt is certainly one of my favorite pitchers in baseball. Little guy, but he throws gas. I am hoping the JD Durbin comparisons to him are close to accurate! I also think his opponent's batting average in 2004 was an anomaly. Carlos Zambrano is probably just a step below the first three pitchers on this list (Oswalt, Sheets, Santana). However, the fact that he is a first-year arbitration-eligible player ranks him below the others financially for next season.
So, let's again quickly rank these pitcher's asking prices and what they've been offered:
1.) Roy Oswalt - $7.8 million
2.) Johan Santana - $6.8 million
3.) Ben Sheets - $6.5 million
4.) Brad Penny - $5.7 million
5.) Carlos Zambrano - $4.0 million
1.) Roy Oswalt - $6.0 million
2.) Ben Sheets - $5.5 million
3.) Johan Santana - $5.0 million
4.) Brad Penny - $4.7 million
5.) Carlos Zambrano - $3.3 million
WHAT ARBITRATOR SETH THINKS...
Brad Penny - Penny is an average pitcher. He is coming off of an injury that shortened his 2004 season. That said, seeing the #3 and #4 type pitchers getting contracts of $7 million per season has to give him hope. However, when Matt Morris signed with the Cardinals for $2.5 million, that helped the owner's case. Personally, I would rule for him to receive $4.7 million next year, siding with management. They're settle at around $5 million though, in all likelihood.
Carlos Zambrano - Again, he is just in his first arbitration year, so he is behind the others on that scale already. In their first years of arbitration, Oswalt played for $3.25 million and Sheets played for $2.425 million (and Johan playing for $1.6 million last year was just a poor ruling from the year before). I would put what Zambrano has done between what Oswalt had done and what Sheets had done, but certainly closer to Oswalt. In other words, the fact that the Cubs offer is already higher than what Oswalt means tells me that there is some inflation. But, I think that Zambrano would win! But, they're close, so I can see them agreeing at about $3.75 million before it gets to the judge.
Ben Sheets - His 2004 numbers are remarkable. However, his previous years were just average. I think that the fact he's played for some bad Brewers teams will hurt him because that affects his W-L record negatively, no matter how well he pitches! Now, would you rather have Sheets at $6.5 million, or the likes of Jon Lieber, Jaret Wright, Eric Milton or Kris Benson for their $7 million (or more) contracts? (Jarrod Washburn just signed for $6.5 million yesterday!) I rule for Sheets, and if I'm the Brewers, I meet him at about $6.25 million, and consider yourself lucky!
Roy Oswalt - I would actually put Oswalt a step head of both Sheets and Santana. He has had more success and been more consistent than Sheets in their short careers. He has simply pitched significantly more than Santana. If not for other-worldly performances by Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson last year, Oswalt wins the NL Cy Young in 2004. He is very good, and if I'm an arbitrator, I rule in Oswalt's favor. If I'm the Astros, I concede... a lot! They need to up their offer by at least $1 million before they can even have legitimate conversation.
Johan Santana - Santana is the best pitcher in baseball. I don't know how he lost his arbitration case a year ago. I think that there is a lot of ill will between Santana's side and the Twins, and the $1.8 million canyon exemplifies that. The Twins vastly underpaid last year, and really have hurt Santana's money-making abilities. Now, if they really want to keep him around, they need to start being fair in their offers. If they really think he is important, they need to let him know that and quit trying to lowball him! Just get it done. I would rule in Santana's favor in a second. If I'm the Twins, I'm starting my long-term talks with a 2004 contract of $6 million and going up from there. Make it a 3 year, $25 million offer. At least that is a starting point. I don't think these sides will settle, and it will go to the arbitrator at which time Santana will most certainly win!
What about those other Twins??
Quickly, let's get back to these:
Carlos Silva asked for $2.25 million and the Twins countered with $1.65 million. Silva made $340,000 in 2004.
Kyle Lohse asked for $2.4 million and the Twins countered with $2.15 million. Lohse made $395,000 in 2004.
It is good to see that the Lohse numbers are very close. That tells me something should be worked out in the next week or so. If I'm the Twins, I up the offer to $2.3 million and call it good. That should get that one over. As bad as Lohse was last year, and as average as he really was the two previous years, he has won 36 games in the past three seasons with a 4.87 ERA (very Milton-like). He has also pitched over 180 innings each of those years. However, his numbers have been worse each of the last three seasons.
I think that the Twins offer to Silva is about what it should be. Remember again that Johan Santana had spent much of his career in the Twins bullpen with spot starts until the second half of 2003. Well, Carlos Silva was a relief pitcher exclusively in 2002 and 2003 before becoming a full time starter in 2004. Santana in his first arbitration was ruled to have a $1.6 million contract for 2004. So, that is probably the comparative number for Silva for the Twins, especially considering Johan's far superior numbers. That said, I would also guess that the two sides will come to an agreement between $1.9 and $2 million.
When you consider that the Twins are hoping for 200+ innings from both of these pitchers in 2005, a combined $4.3 million for them is pretty good!
Other Interesting Arbitration Numbers
The number getting the most talk is Roger Clemens asking for $22 million from the Houston Astros in arbitration. The Astros offered him $13.5 million, a fair amount, considering his age. However, the 42 year old just came off of a season in which he won his 6th Cy Young Award while giving the Astros the hometown discount of just $5 million. The Astros have lost Jeff Kent and Carlos Beltran, so Clemens has to decide if he wants to play or not. Apparently, he is looking for twenty-two million reasons! This won't go to arbitration, even if Clemens does decide to coming playing. They will likely 'settle' for somewhere around the $16 million that Randy Johnson is getting paid.
The Astros also offered OF Lance Berkman $10 million. Berkman is asking for $11 million. For a player of Berkman's caliber, he is worthy of either, so I would guess they'll split the difference and he'll play 2005 for $10.5 million. I'm guessing that an arbitrator wouldn't hear the 'other' reasons that the Astros should pay Berkman like he's from Houston and went to college at Rice.
Former Twin Casey Blake made $352,000 last year with the Indians. He is asking for $2.6 million. The Indians are offering $2.15 million. I wonder if the Indians aren't budging because of the Juan Gonzalez situation. See, despite performing well as the Indians 3B the last two seasons, Blake was likely moving out to RF for the Tribe in 2005 because of Aaron Boone. If Gonzalez makes the team (he probably will), Blake would be shifted to LF, with Coco Crisp moving to CF (and Grady Sizemore probably starting the year at AAA Buffalo).
The Pirates Rob Machowiak is a decent little player. I am surprised at what he is asking for though. He is asking for $2.8 million, while the Buccs are countering with $1.35 million. That is a huge gap that I can't see them coming to a middle ground on. I also don't think there is a case where Machoviak wins that amount! That's like the Brewer' Brady Clark asking for $1.3 million. I actually am surprised that the Crew offered him $1.05 million.
Of course, a lot of arbitration-eligibles signed in the last couple of days to avoid the whole messy process. Here are some of the highlights in my opinion.
Eric Gagne signs a two-year, $19 million deal - Gagne has been as dominant as any closer in baseball the past few seasons. But I still do subscribe to the notion that you can find closers, and that closers are very replaceable. Many will argue. I do have to stress two points though. First, to be a closer, you have to be a good pitcher in general. You also have to have at least one dominant pitch. I also need to point out that I now again believe that a closer is necessary on a team, having that person for that role is very important. I just don't know if it is ever worth paying that guy this much money.
But, the Dodgers have money to spend. They showed that yesterday by also signing SS Cesar Izturis to a three-year, $9.9 million deal! That is a lot for a very slick-fielding, but very little punch hitting shortstop. I like Izturis, and he had a fine 2004 season. This just seems like a lot of money.
Brave deals - Rafael Furcal gets $5.6 million. He's good. He gets on base, hits for some power, steals some based, makes a lot of errors and has some problems. This does seem a little excessive, but not too bad. Danny Kolb was that cheap, successful closer in Milwaukee the last two seasons. Now, he's likely to be just a successful closer in Atlanta having agreed to pitc in 2005 for $3.4 million.
Michael Barrett finally has a decent year and turns it into a 3 year, $12 million contract. Will he be solid again, or will he go back to being underachieving? In reality, does his offensive output really matter to the Cubs? They have a strong lineup. If he can catch that pitching staff well (and to health), it will all be fine.
Octavio Dotel (me Dat) - Even the A's realize how important having someone for the 8th inning glory is necessary. They re-signed Dotel for $4.75 million for next year. That's a lot of money! But, if their young starting pitchers pan out, it would be nice to have the good Dotel out there to secure the wins! Oh, and the A's also signed Bobby Kielty for $800,000 with some incentives based on plate appearances. You notice that Aaron Gleeman still writes about that Santana guy from time to time. You dn't read him writing about Kielty real frequently. You should give him a hard time! Ah, just kidding, I used to stick up for Luis Rivas a lot too, so we don't get 'em all right!
Can someone explain to me why Alex Cora would sign in Cleveland? Where will he play? Aaron Boone is at 3B, Jhonny Peralta should be at SS, and Ron Belliard will still be the primary 2B. Why wouldn't he sign somewhere that he would have a chance to play? Or, is he assuming Belliard will get hurt? Don't forget that the Indians also signed Jose Hernandez to be a backup!
Isn't the arbitration system fun to watch? A lot of signings happen in a hurry, and teams scurry to find a diamond in the rough, someone another team gave up on. But, sometimes it has to go to arbitration and things get ugly. But, just over a month until pitchers and catchers, so we can be happy about that!
On that note, I am going to call it a day. I hope you all have a great week! If you have any comments, opinions, or ideas for future articles, please e-mail me.
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