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Dec 122010

It’s a cold, rainy day here in New York, and in the Yankee universe (ahem) all anybody wants to talk about is the waiting game for Cliff Lee. I’ve weighed in here numerous times, as have most of my fellow writers. So I thought it would be a good time to open things up to the readers, and let you guys hash things out for yourselves. To get the conversation started I’m going to post some recent comments from Mo’s TYU Twitter. If you don’t already subscribe, you really should. Here’s a few tidbits:

Honestly, I’d love to give him an opt-out after the 4th season. Even if he’s great, let him use it.

Bingo. Anyone who complained about giving CC an opt out a few years ago was nuts. I’d love to have one of these in the middle of every long term deal around the 3rd or 4th season. Let Lee opt out as a 35 year old after a big season, thank you very much. The risk of most deals is in the out years of the contract, and the only time this didn’t work out well was the A-Rod opt out, but that was a result of Yankee ownership being in flux, which no longer applies. Do you think Blue Jays fans are still crying over AJ Burnett’s opt-out? JD Drew gave the Dodgers one and a half big years and has been banged up or unproductive half the time as a Red Sox .

But that suggests that 7/161, considering future inflation in value of win and standard aging, might not be a bad deal.

Assuming Lee starts at 5.5 fWAR next yr, 2011: 26.1M 12: 25.6M 13: 24.9M 14: 23.9M 15: 22.6M 16: 20.9M 17: 18.85M Total: 7yr/162.85 million.

The problem I have with this is that it assumes 7 injury free seasons, and when it comes to pitchers there’s typically no such thing. But it’s impossible to predict such things, so you just have to make an arbitrary adjustment in your own head and move on. The Yanks rarely make any money on their big free agents. The Steinbrenners operate the franchise at break even or a small loss and make their money on the playoffs, YES, Steiner Collectables, Legends Hospitality, etc. This contract is par with the deal they just signed for Derek, the A-Rod pact, the CC and AJ deals. The Yanks are lucky to break even on these deals.

“The chances of Lee being the pitcher he’s been over the last few seasons two years from now are slim” I dont think that’s true.

The issue is that people using standing aging curves even for players who have already proven to be outliers.

Yep. Elite talents like Lee are by their nature unique and exceptional, so comparing their aging curves to a group that includes loads of fringy guys who were barely hanging on in the bigs is kinda silly. For a much more targeted group, check out Lee’s top 10 player comps on his BR page.

BTW-Do you folks know that Cliff’s full name is “Clifton Phifer Lee “. Yep.

10 Responses to “Open Thread: Mo’s on fire”

  1. Since it’s an open thread

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4VoVefLh3I&feature=channel

    This makes me reconsider my chipotle pepper consumption.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

  2. Ok, so I have several things to say about Mo’s argument.

    First, on opt-outs. I strongly disagree, and this is the person who hates long term deals. There is no situation in which an opt-out clause cannot hurt a ballclub. It essentially gives the player a bunch of player options in the middle of a contract. If the contract is going poorly for a team (AJ Burnett), the opt-out will not be exercised, and the team will be stuck with the sour end of their risk. However, if the contract is working out well (Arod, CC, Burnett’s first contract), then the player opts-out and the team does not get to benefit from the risk taking it took at the beginning of the contract. If CC has another Cy-caliber season in 2011, then I do not want him to opt-out. He’ll prove costlier and have to be locked up for more years, or the Yankees could lose their ace. And on top of all of this, the opt-out creates an uncertainty which makes it difficult to plan years into the future.

    Cliff Lee could be the huge mistake that I think he will be. But he may not. If you give him the opt-out, you are guaranteed to get 7 years of the mistake, but could only get 4 years of the not mistake. Its poor and upside management.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    If he has 4 great seasons, I still want him to opt-out. That’s the idea, that you are saddled with 7 years of risk anyhow without an opt-out, I’d like to remove the 3 riskiest years.  (Quote)

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    EJ Fagan Reply:

    The player makes the exact same calculation that teams do. You haven’t presented a reason why the opt-out calculus is different for the pitcher than it is for the team.  (Quote)

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    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    Simple. If Lee has 4 very good years, he will opt-out to soak more money from Yanks or another team. At that point, the Yankees would just let him go. The calculus is different because the Yankees would let him go even if he is still excellent.  (Quote)

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    smurfy Reply:

    I’m with EJ: you remove the three riskiest years only if they look like reward. If his shoulder blows out, he stays. The player option is a major benefit to him,and you are increasing the risk of the long term deal.  (Quote)

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    T.O. Chris Reply:

    How are you increasing the risk? If he has an opt out in the 4th year and blows out his shoulder in the 3rd your stuck with him for 7 years, if he has no opt out and blows out nothing your still stuck for 7 years it in fact eleviates the risk because Lee would opt out if going well and you let him go to Texas then and don’t have to deal with the last 3 years of the deal.

    If anything it’s the same risk with extra reward because if pitches well for 3 or 4 years then you get the benefit of him leaving before he starts to decline and you probably get a ring out of it.

    Now if he had 3 consecutive player options in the end that would be terrible but an opt is not the same, he would have to decide to either leave the Yankees at 36 or continue on until 39 but he would know he could get one last pay day and leave.

    Either way it’s a 7 year commitment but with the opt out you just give yourself the chance to make it a 4 year deal instead.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    Exactly.  (Quote)

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  3. Ok, second problem with Mo’s argument, in which I agree with Steve. You can’t just assume a slow, gradual reduction in a pitcher’s production. Sure, that happens for some (I’m thinking David Wells), but pitchers are also prone to catastrophic failure like a shoulder or elbow injury. This is why so few pitchers get big long term deals. Older pitchers are at an increased risk for issues. Look at the scare that the Mets had with Johan Santana.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

    Moshe Mandel Reply:

    Im just using the typical aging schedule. Yes, there is risk involved, but thereis some injury built into this as well. It’s why I started at 5.5 wins rather than 6.5, which is where Fangraphs WAR would likely have him.  (Quote)

    [Reply To This Comment]

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