Lee Value: Bet the Over (4)

Q.  So why do you see people underselling the value of a rental?

A.  This is nothing personal, but let's put it so you can understand it.

Some guys are tight with a buck.  In real life, as well as in rotoball.  That's not an insult.  I've created some problems for myself for not being tight with a buck when maybe I shoulda been.  :- )

But some guys love their pennies.  And they loooo-oove underpaid, $-efficient year 2 and year 3 ballplayers.   That's why they publish articles arguing that a rookie Adam Jones, by himself, is worth more than Erik Bedard even straight up.  Obviously you're not going to see these guys arguing that any rental is worth three or four good young players.

There are sabermetricians who, if they were GM's, would value young underpaid players farrrrrr more than real GM's do.  That's why the disconnect.

Again, no insult.  Nothing wrong with being responsible about your money.  In my view, it can create blind spots w/r/t Stars & Scrubs, though.


Q.  OK, so life is complicated.  How then does SSI go about "capturing" the real value of a Cliff Lee?  Don't just criticize.  Give the answer, and show your work.

A.  From studying chess/AI algorithms, we can tell you two things with 100% certainty: 

(1) Cliff Lee's July value is much too complex to capture mathematically.  We're not even close.  Anything you publish would be a guess, nothing more.


And, that (2) the intuition of real GM's is very underrated, as a mechanism for approximating the value.  College kids scoff at the oldtimers.  :- )  Later in life, they'll understand just how good those oldtimers are.  The superstar stock analysts (not companies) on Wall Street are far, far better than any computer is.

Think about it:  if buying teams were taking beatings, then GM's would adjust.  But in the grand scheme, July 31 buyers are not losing to the house.  Not after you take behind-the-scenes franchise value into account. 

For every Braves/Teixeira outcome, there is a Phillies/Lee outcome -- and Schuerholz told you that even the Teixeira deal worked out well for them in the grand scheme.


Q.  If there were a recommendation to real GM's, what would it be?

A.  You will see these GM's speaking in terms of a rental star's impact "internally and externally" -- their paradigm is that the right rental player legitimizes their franchise.  To the fans.  To the FA's.  To their own ownership group.  To the media.  To other GM's.

From the Yankees' point of view, "legitimacy" is defined as winning four games in the World Series.  From the Mariners', it would be defined as losing any games in the first round of the playoffs. 

But GM's are under crushing pressure to create saleable product.  They've got renewable resources in the minors.  If the trade is within reason, and you believe it's a difference-maker, you make the trade.

What's the line?  What does "within reason" mean?   When a trade gets you labeled a sucker -- not to blog authors but inside baseball -- that's the line.  Otherwise, go for it.


Wait and see what the Mariners get for Cliff Lee.  That is, probably, going to nail the value at about 110%, 120% of his actual worth (because somebody has to outbid the dead-on accurate offers).

Prediction here is that it is going to be a boatload.  Let's see.



Dr D


Jpax's picture

Possibly another factor (maybe extremely important to the Yankees), is to not only be interested in Lee for what he could give them, but to keep him away from another contender.  Lee represented two World Series losses to the Yankees in 2009.  So if he is with them instead, would he represent 1-2 victories to the Yankees 'PLUS' an avoidance of 1-2 losses?


Move Cliff Lee from Team A to Team B ... from the Yankee dugout to the Red Sox ... and it's hard to overstate how much that swings the odds.
It's *almost* like asking, would you rather start the series 2-0 in front or 0-2 behind.  :- )
Sabes will counter with LeeWARx2gm = 0.46, but that ain't how it will be in the dugout, and that ain't how GM's will look at it.  Sabes haven't constructed WS winners...

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