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Timing Article

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Timing Article

Unread postby Steve Buffum » Thu Feb 09, 2006 5:04 pm

An excellent encapsulation.

It remains to be seen if the Indians will take full advantage of their opportunity or slog through not-quite-good-enoughness like the Twins have, but I'm willing to wait a few more months. Still a well-written piece, though.
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Unread postby consigliere » Thu Feb 09, 2006 5:51 pm

Thanks.

I think it all boils down to two things:

1. Every fan is taking that "spending" comment from Dolan to mean something different.

2. Some fans are willing to be patient to watch payroll grow, others are not.

Both sides have valid viewpoints to the issue. I am willing to be patient as long as the slope in payroll continues upward in a progressive fashion(as it has been).

I expect something in the low to mid $60s in 2007, eventually topping out in the mid-high $60s to MAYBE the low $70s in 2008 when this thing may be geared to make one last push with the current talent (Hafner and Sabathia FAs after 2008).

But, now that they have the foundation to this team built here and in the minors, going forward after this year I expect payrolls to hover somewhere in the $60s.
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Unread postby Steve Buffum » Thu Feb 09, 2006 6:10 pm

Consigliere wrote:Both sides have valid viewpoints to the issue. I am willing to be patient as long as the slope in payroll continues upward in a progressive fashion(as it has been).

First off, I don't want to talk about absolute numbers. Talking about payroll rank and payroll-to-revenue ratio means more to me than N Million Dollars. Who knows what's a reasonable N in 2009?

But my test will be not so much signing Victor to a very manageable deal, or whether Paul Byrd constitutes wise spending vs. Kevin Millwood. To me, the test will be if we re-sign the Sabathias and Lees and Sizemores when they are in their primes. It can be argued that Hafner is the only player who is really in his "prime" in baseball age: it's one thing to sign young guys to good money, but I'll reserve judgement until the time comes to sign a great guy to great money.

Gut feeling: we'll follow the Oakland/Chavez model and pick one of every two or three. We'll see.
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Unread postby consigliere » Thu Feb 09, 2006 7:41 pm

Buff, I think I am moreorless in your camp on what you are saying. It truly isn't a specific dollar amount with me (I'm pretty sure you know that). I guess I just attach that specifc value to it since so many others are so worried about what that payroll figure is.

I have no idea what a $65-$70M payroll would be in relation to the market-size and revenues. But, I would that is about what I am expecting (the Twins and A's model of spending).

And you are spot on about Chavez.....we are never going to be able to keep someone for market value. To keep someone, it will be on a good deal, but at a hometown discount. It's why I think the Indians place so much emphasis on "character" guys and just good guys. Maybe the thinking is some may take less to stay.....someone maybe like Sizemore or Hafner....maybe even Martinez. I have a good feeling we'll be able to keep two of the current core when they hit FA.....my best bets are Sizemore, Martinez and Hafner. Of course, I felt that way with Thome.....
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Unread postby pup » Fri Feb 10, 2006 11:49 am

Are we just speaking about position players with this? I am pretty sure Dolan is all about spending whatever cabbage he does spend on pitchers. So is it CC and Lee that get the cash to stay while they continue to field young position players?
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Unread postby consigliere » Fri Feb 10, 2006 12:19 pm

I think pitching is truly the hardest to retain. Teams just overpay for it. And "overpay" is an understatement. Which is why, I believe resigning CC to an extension after his 2008 season will be tough. Lee, they'll lock him in long-term real soon (probably in April) to carry him through his arbitration years at a set price. But, after that deal expires, he will be a tough sign if he continues to pitch like he has.
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Unread postby Steve Buffum » Fri Feb 10, 2006 12:49 pm

Pup wrote:Are we just speaking about position players with this? I am pretty sure Dolan is all about spending whatever cabbage he does spend on pitchers.

Why?
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Unread postby pup » Fri Feb 10, 2006 1:42 pm

Early on in the rebuilding, Dolan talked about pitching being the strength of a team to build on. So if that is his belief, it would seem to be easier for Shapiro to get him to duck up on the pitching staff over position players.
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Unread postby consigliere » Fri Feb 10, 2006 2:15 pm

Wasn't the comment about "building around pitching" made after the Alomar deal?

In other words, before the rebuild?
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Unread postby pup » Fri Feb 10, 2006 2:30 pm

Ok, so it was before the rebuild. I don't think he has changed his beliefs since, but I don't know since he hardly comments anymore. What difference does it make when he said it?
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Unread postby consigliere » Fri Feb 10, 2006 2:48 pm

I think it makes a lot of difference, because that was under Plan I. :wink:

Anyway, I think you are right that at this point the focus is to build on pitching, but maybe moreso on having young arms ready to take over than keeping guys who hit FA.
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Unread postby Jon Cohodas » Fri Feb 10, 2006 3:05 pm

The free agent crop this off-season was one of the worst ever, if not THE worst ever. Most of the top free agents this year would have been 2nd or even 3rd tier in a normal free agency period. As a result, some foolish deals were passed around to players who will never come close to providing the signing team a good return on their investment.

Some of those 2nd and 3rd tier guys that fit into the Indians spending habits in the 90s have become over-priced. Guys like Eddie Murray, Dennis Martinez, and Orel Hershiser who we signed to deals that paid them around $2M to $4M a year, would be getting deals well above that now. Eddie Murray made $3M per year in 1994 and 1995, yet in 2006 Casey Blake will make $3.05M and Ben Broussard $2.5M. That’s not inflation, that’s insanity. Yeesh.

So, the Indians took their best shot in free agency this off-season, and came up empty way more times than not. The Indians targeted players at positions of need, namely BJ Ryan, Trevor Hoffman, and Brian Giles. They lost out on all of those player, Ryan because they didn’t want to go 5 years, and on Giles and Hoffman because those players took less money to stay in sunny San Diego.


I'll ask what I asked on "the other board"
Why do the Indians have to focus on the 2nd & 3rd tier guys if they have money? Why couldn't they sign Millwood and Byrd? Why couldn't they make a run at some like Troy Glaus? (Not that I am not super pleased that we got Marte) Don't give me bang for buck arguments. Wouldn't these guys be better than who the Indians currently had? Would that make the team better?
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Unread postby consigliere » Fri Feb 10, 2006 3:36 pm

John, I agree that maybe these types of signings make us better in the short-term. But, to me, it puts at serious risk to resign guys like Sizemore, Peralta, etc when the time comes to try and do so. And, having Kevin Millwood on the team making $12M per isn't going to give us much flexibility to be able to even attempt to resign many of these guys.

I am not sure how many we will resign....still say 2-3....but I would think we'll try to keep all of them by offering deals. It is why I want to try and stay flexible. I'd rather make short-term FA signings for guys on 1 maybe 2 year deals...and use the real money on resigning our own.

I mean, if we had Millwood at $12M per....considering he replaces Jason Johnson's $3.5M signing, our payroll in 2006 is roughly $64M. Going forward, since our payroll ceiling in my opinion is roughly $70Mish, it doesn't give us a whole helluva lot of room to resign Pronk, Victor, CC, Grady, etc.

And, keep in mind, that Hafner ($2.7M) and Vic's ($800K) 2006 salaries are low (total $3.5M). In 2008, Hafner makes $5M and Vic $4.25M....a total of $9.25M.
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Unread postby furls » Fri Feb 10, 2006 3:45 pm

Considering I am/was heavily invested in Enron, Arthur Anderson, MCI worldcom, GM, and Ford; I am going to have to break my son's right arm and teach him to throw with his left.

Pitchers are overpaid (particularly lefties) is the understatement of the year!

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Unread postby swerb » Fri Feb 10, 2006 3:46 pm

I understand why the Indians did what they did this off-season, and reading a piece like Latsoria's makes me feel almost guilty for emm effing Dolan all off-season. It was well thought out, and he makes many valid points.

However, I will always be of the mindset that says "take some risks when you have a chance to go win a title". Shapiro is terrified to make a move that may hamstring him in future years, and also knows he must be perfect in order to win with an owner that won't pony up for the big name FA's that get more than what Shapiro feels they are worth.

And forget FAs ... who knows what potential trades have been kiboshed due to the teams payroll limitations

Dolan refuses to deficit spend, and lags way behind teams in similar markets with similar attendances in payroll spending. He uses this team as a money making business endeavor for him first, contention as a second added bonus.

I fear that we will always be like the A's and never be good enough to get over the top. Even more than that, I fear that this will eventually drive Shapiro outta town.

Then, we're fucked. A 50 mill payroll without a guy like Shapiro ... and you are the Pirates.
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Unread postby Jon Cohodas » Fri Feb 10, 2006 3:54 pm

It is only risky if the contract is such that it makes the player untradable. Supposing the Indians signed Millwood at his terms, if they found that they needed the payroll more than the player they could always trade him. Talented players always have a market.
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Unread postby consigliere » Fri Feb 10, 2006 4:07 pm

Swerb, I moreorless agree on your points 'cept this:

Dolan refuses to deficit spend, and lags way behind teams in similar markets with similar attendances in payroll spending.


I am not sure how up to date this is, but according to this, 21 MLB teams reside in a larger market than us:

http://www.baseball-almanac.com/article ... kets.shtml

Just using the 6 other teams in this listing of 2-3M people....since we don't know about 2006 payrolls, I will list 2005 payrolls:

St. Louis: $92.1M (43,600 fans/game)
Minnesota: $56.2M (25,200 fans/game)
San Diego: $63.3M (35,400 fans/game)
Denver: $48.2M (23,900 fans/game)
Tampa Bay: $29.7M (14,000 fans/game)
Pittsburgh: $38.1M (23,000 fans/game)

St. Louis is the real outlier here, but that also is a regional team with a rich history and strong fanbase. Also, average 43K a night is pretty good.

But, with the others.....I don't see how a $55M payroll with the Indians in 2006 with an average of 26K a night is far off from the other teams in their market....still maybe a little below where I think they ultimately end up, but not far off.
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Unread postby Steve Buffum » Fri Feb 10, 2006 4:09 pm

Jon Cohodas wrote:It is only risky if the contract is such that it makes the player untradable. Supposing the Indians signed Millwood at his terms, if they found that they needed the payroll more than the player they could always trade him. Talented players always have a market.
I don't think that's true. Do you think Philadelphia got a good return on their investment in Jim Thome? I don't.

I think Millwood would have made the team better in 2006. I think there's a 50-50 chance that Millwood would have made the team better in 2007. I think there' a 99+% chance that Millwood would have made the team worse in 2010. (In 2009, the last guaranteed year of Millwood's deal, the odds decrease to only 99%.)

Given the money involved, I think it was the Right Move not to sign Kevin Millwood. Jeff Weaver, now, that's different. But Millwood, blech.

I am willing to accept that this is only my opinion. But I'm not an idiot for having it.
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Unread postby Jon Cohodas » Fri Feb 10, 2006 4:43 pm

I don't think that's true. Do you think Philadelphia got a good return on their investment in Jim Thome? I don't.


They got two very good years, one injured bad, and paid about $63M, so no, I agree there. If they traded him before last year then they would have made out fine.

I think Millwood would have made the team better in 2006. I think there's a 50-50 chance that Millwood would have made the team better in 2007. I think there' a 99+% chance that Millwood would have made the team worse in 2010. (In 2009, the last guaranteed year of Millwood's deal, the odds decrease to only 99%.)

Given the money involved, I think it was the Right Move not to sign Kevin Millwood. Jeff Weaver, now, that's different. But Millwood, blech.

I am willing to accept that this is only my opinion. But I'm not an idiot for having it.


To me, the only risk is that Millwood screws the pooch so badly that he becomes untradable in a few years. Granted that is not unsubstantial. If he is still pitching well then the contract is movable. If you think Millwood is too likely then substitute anyone else at the top end of the market. To say that ALL of the free agents are too risky and therefore they should give up is not an assessment, it is a philosophy.
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Unread postby Steve Buffum » Fri Feb 10, 2006 5:18 pm

Jon Cohodas wrote:If you think Millwood is too likely then substitute anyone else at the top end of the market. To say that ALL of the free agents are too risky and therefore they should give up is not an assessment, it is a philosophy.

I think all the free agent starting pitchers fell into this category in 2005 except Jeff Weaver. The sample size is very low, which is why I can't see the overarching philosophy I'm attributing to you (apologies if this is incorrect). How many free agent pitchers were there that would have improved this team? Five? (I argue, for example, that Jerrod Washburn is not in this class, nor was Scott Elarton.)

This doesn't mean you're wrong, I just don't see enough evidence that It Will Never Happen By Golly.
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Unread postby Jumbo » Sat Feb 11, 2006 12:10 pm

However, I will always be of the mindset that says "take some risks when you have a chance to go win a title".

That's true, but, I think, in a vacuum, everyone - including Shapiro and Dolan - is of that same mindset. The trouble comes when you start matching putting names and prices (whether via talent or money) to the amorphous "risk."

On the other hand, the thing about the Indians is they are the exact team that would most benefit from the kind of risk that gets them even 3-5 wins...as they are right at the threshold where a small number of wins can make the difference between in and out of the playoffs.

On the third hand, after weighing both of those factors together, I think Shapiro sees that he has a 3(*) year window, which is about as long of a window as you can reasonably project in MLB. He's already decided that he's lost the PR battle (he's been losing it for four years now), so if he thinks the reward for a given risk will be higher in July 2006 or the next offseason, he has no problem waiting for it.

(*) - 3 years is based on the current length of Pronk and CC contracts. It's possible that those guys could be resigned, or that Marte/Sowers extend the window, or four-fifths of the starting staff gets hurt, or the Indians win a WS title. In any case, looking beyond three years is nothing but speculation.
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Unread postby consigliere » Sat Feb 11, 2006 12:32 pm

Jumbo, I think "the 3 year window" is about right. We aren't at risk of losing any of the core to FA until after the 2008 season right now. The only core guy might be Westbrook, who can leave after 2007.....but I am not sure he falls into the "core" category.

And, hopefully that is just a window for the current "core"....and that as they add more young players and they prove themselves, that "window" ends up staying open indefinitely.
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Unread postby swerb » Sat Feb 11, 2006 4:16 pm

On the other hand, the thing about the Indians is they are the exact team that would most benefit from the kind of risk that gets them even 3-5 wins...as they are right at the threshold where a small number of wins can make the difference between in and out of the playoffs.

Very well said, and I think that is what inherently frustrates me the most. The flip side benefit to Dolan's frugality is that the team has all kinds of flexibility going forward.

Should the team excel this year, draw 2.4-2.5 million, reap dividends from the new cable deal, and get a little of that post-season $$$, they are in an incredible position moving forward for the next two years of the window. Committed to next to no players that present some risks, alot of team options, and with the ability to add pretty significantly to the payroll.
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Unread postby pup » Sat Feb 11, 2006 4:47 pm

I think the flexibility will show as a positive before next off-season. I think they know there will be a couple of guys available at the deadline that will fit into the Tribe's plans.
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