On this page, I'll share my thoughts, and any articles or information I think are of interest. Feel free to use the comments section to join in the discussion!
The Cardinals are universally acclaimed as the best Organization in MLB. They are a team that was built through the draft and obviously “overvalues” draft picks. Yet JP Riciardi, who works for the Mets... one of THE worst teams in MLB says “No one builds through the draft.”
Is it any wonder he's the FORMER GM of Toronto & works for a team that finished 22 games out of of 1st place, the 10th worst record in MLB?
"While it doesn't necessarily sound like the Mets will be big players for Drew, who rejected a qualifying offer from the Red Sox, Ricciardi notes that, in general, he thinks the issue of draft pick forfeiture is only a minor consideration. The Mets' first-round pick in 2014, No. 10 overall, is protected, but the team already gave up its second-round pick to sign Curtis Granderson. "One of the things that is happening in baseball right now, that I scratch my head with [is that] young players are so overvalued right now, and I think falls in with the draft picks, too," Ricciardi says. "No one builds through the draft. You add through the draft." Ricciardi says that, to him, proven big-league players are more valuable."
MLB Past and Future Payrolls
21 Aug 2013
I’m a big fan of Bill Simmons’ BS Report podcast. Some of my favorite parts are when Bill talks about trade possibilities between teams. It’s always fun to try and step into a general manager’s shoes and imagine what they can and can’t do to improve their teams. During one of these shows, Jonah Keri was on, and he and Bill were doing a pretty good job of breaking down the options that some MLB teams had in the coming years. It seemed like Jonah had a great command of the restrictions on some of these teams and even what the free agent market is going to look like at various points in the future. I found myself trying to picture and organize all this information in my head. I was inspired to map all this out in a big visualization.
Also, I just wanted to find out how screwed my beloved Phillies are in the coming years.
The image below is a link to the visualization:
The first thing you can do is to click the arrows or use the left and right arrow keys to scroll through past and future years. I collected data back to 1998, when the Baltimore Orioles led the league in payroll with players like Mike Mussina and Rafael Palmeiro. Scrolling back to the present day shows a lot of story lines: how the Yankees expanded their payroll way faster than the rest of the league in the early 2000s, fire sales of the Marlins in 2006 and to a lesser extent in 2013, and the recent rapid rise of the Dodgers’ payroll.
When you scroll to future years, the 2013 payroll hangs around as a ghost image to provide a rough benchmark of what you might expect the team to eventually pay. The solid bars drop down to show the contracts that the teams are currently obligated to pay in that particular year. Here, you can clearly see the Dodgers and Angels leading the league in earmarked money over the next few seasons. Going all the way to 2023 shows that the Reds have actually signed the longest contract so far.
Clicking on a team in that upper chart will show a time series of that team’s payrolls over the years broken out by player. For example, clicking on the Reds shows large green boxes way out into the future. Clicking on any of those boxes will show you that first baseman Joey Votto can expect to be paid $25M to play baseball in the year 2023. Each color in these bottom charts corresponds to a position.
There are some caveats here. I grabbed the data from Baseball Reference who gets their data from Cot’s Baseball Contracts. As far as I can tell, the data is not updated very regularly because I know of a couple contract extensions that have not made it onto their pages yet. Those contracts won’t be displayed here.
Also, when a player misses a whole season to injury, that player’s salary doesn’t show up on the Baseball Reference page. I took care to add the biggest instances of these missed seasons back into the data by hand, but I’m sure I didn’t get them all. There’s also the question of whether those salaries really should be here. I believe most teams take out insurance policies on players and thus they aren’t responsible for paying injured players. Since I have no details about that sort of thing, I just tried to include all the missed seasons I could find.
Lastly, teams sometimes agree to pay part of a player’s salary when they trade them away to another team. A good recent example of that is the Cubs paying most of Alfonso Soriano’s salary while he plays for the Yankees. The Baseball Reference site has good information about these arrangements in the current and future years. But the site does not have information about past arrangements. Again, I took care of a couple of the biggest discrepancies by hand (hello Mike Hampton!), but I’m sure there are lots still in there.
Despite those couple issues, I believe this chart does a great job of showing a snapshot of the MLB economy. I learned a lot just clicking around the whole thing while building it. I think it’s a great indication that you’re building something interesting if you constantly get distracted playing with the thing instead of working on it.
UPDATE: After getting picked up by Fangraphs and Deadspin, I got a lot of feedback. Most of it involved the words ‘Bobby Bonilla’. His payments now show up in the charts. Also, the full salaries of some players that were traded this year were being counted against both teams. This happened when there wasn’t good information about what the teams agreed on in the trade, so I ended up just splitting the salaries evenly between the two. That whole process made the Dodgers drop from the top spot! I guess they’ll have to content themselves with making the jump next year.
5 rebuilding efforts examined
Rebuilding efforts abound over the winter months and every teams has their own take on how go about the process.
Every team is trying to improve their chances at a World Series title over the offseason, but some have more work to do than others. The Red Sox andCardinals needed to make moves to stay on top, but the core of talent that brought them head-to-head in late October will still be there on opening day.
Other teams aren’t as lucky. They don’t just need a new shortstop or a catcher to replace a departing free agent. They were far from the Promised Land as the final games of the season were being played and then they may have lost even more to the ravishes of free agency. For these teams, one or two moves isn’t enough. It is time to rebuild.
Building Rome in Day
Still Seeking: Masahiro Tanaka, starting pitching
Last season, the Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and for just the second time since the 1994 strike and that basically guaranteed a reenactment of their 2009 spending spree. Sure enough, the Yankees have already grabbed three of the top free agents on the market and now that Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka is being posted, they could make it four. By adding McCann, Ellsbury and Beltran, they have re-energized a lineup that finished 10th in the American League in runs scored in 2013 despite playing in one of the most pro-hitter parks in the game, but they still have to address the rotation and the bullpen.
While the headlines understandably revolve around the multi-million dollar deals, the Yankees can’t simply fix every hole with the best player available. After landing their top targets, the Yankees switched to a strategy that is more often associated with their rivals in TampaBay. To fill the gap left by Robinson Cano, the Yankees turned to two players with issues and upside in Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts. They added a talent lefty who has been in decline recently in Matt Thornton to help a bullpen that has a Mariano Rivera-sized hole in it now. There might still be a big-money deal to be made in the Bronx this winter, but even the Yankees have a budget. They have been the big spenders this offseason, but the success of their rebuild will also depend- at least in part- on their ability to find one or two hidden values.
Key Losses: Tyler Skaggs, Adam Eaton, Mark Davidson, Heath Bell
Can this really be called a rebuild? Arizona has added just two key players this offseason and if their 81-81 record from 2013 is any indication, they will need to do a good deal more if they hope to compete with the Dodgers. There have been plenty of hot takes on the specifics of their two trades, but the overall strategy is even more questionable than the returns. GM Kevin Towers has dealt highly-rated prospects for established major leaguers this offseason the way a GM managing a 90-win club might. The 2013 team didn’t under-perform in any meaningful way and while there are a few players who might take a small step forward, the Diamondbacks lineup is not busting with young talent on the verge of a breakout.
So, can the slightly retooled Diamondbacks contend in 2014? Beating the Dodgers to take the NL West seems like a stretch, but with two wild card spots up for grabs, Arizona can conceivably compete with the likes of the Reds, Nationals and Pirates to earn their way to October baseball. Mark Trumbo will hit some bombs, but add little value elsewhere. Addison Reed will give them an easy answer at the end of close games. These are nice pieces to add if you are already a contender, but so far, this rebuild doesn’t amount to much more than a new coat of paint.
Adding Tanaka would help change the story some and it wouldn’t be surprising if Towers the Trader has another big swap up his sleeve. If that is the case, maybe this Arizonaoffseason will begin to make sense. It feels like the Diamondbacks are trying to build something this winter, but right now, it doesn’t look much like a contender.
The Wait is Over
Key Losses: Carter Capps,
Mariner’s fans have had to endure four losing seasons and they have been deprived of a playoff berth since 2001, but with a crop of talented young players hitting the majors now, the team has channeled their inner Steinbrenner and they are finally adding top talent. Unfortunately, they are doing it at top prices, but that might be unavoidable. While the strategy might not be a solid one over the long haul, the Mariners needed a radical change from the previous course after years of failing at other, more moderate methods of team building.
The Mariners gave Robinson Cano the sixth $200 million-plus deal in the history of the game this winter, and they certainly didn’t do that to try to win in 2018 or 2019. This is the end of the Seattle rebuild, not the start. GM Jack Zduriencik is putting everything on the line this offseason, but even at $240 million, his biggest bet isn’t on Robinson Cano. The biggest gamble Seattle is taking that players like Mike Zunino, Brad Miller, Taijuan Walker and Kyle Seager are the real deal. If that wager goes bad, all of the money they have spent this offseason will have been in vain regardless how players like Cano and Hart perform.
The Long and Winding Road
The White Sox
Under former-GM Kenny Williams (now the team's Executive VP), the White Sox had their own unique way of doing things and that is still the case with Rick Hahn at the helm. The White Sox hold a number of interesting pieces to dangle out on the trade market, but they have gone about things quietly. They found their way into the Mark Trumbo trade talks and walked away with one of the best deals of the offseason. They surprised most of the baseball world by winning the bid for Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu and they have made a number of low-cost, high-upside signings that could help drag them out of the basement in 2014 or else help them trade for more talent at the deadline if things go well.
The White Sox are still not a great team and their farms system isn’t expected to be ranked as elite after all these deals either, but it is clear that Hahn has a plan. He isn’t calling much attention to his own work, but he is building up the team's talent base with under-the-radar moves. With the financial resources Chicago has, this rebuild won’t have to be solely based on talent from the farm, but the youth movement on the South Side over the last six months deserves praise. When Hahn does begin chasing more expensive free agents, he will have young, cost-controlled talent around to maximize their impact. That won't happen this offseason, but that day isn't far away.
The Astros have lost more than 100 games for three straight seasons and it is hard to imagine things looking more bleak than did at the end of 2013. All of that losing has cost the team fans, but it has netted them a wealth of top prospects. Most of those players are still a year or more off, but the tide is beginning to turn in Houston and fans might see better days in 2014 if they actually bother to tune in.
The deal with the Rockies that brought Dexter Fowler to Houston seems to indicate the team is entering phase-two of their ruthless rebuilding strategy. Investing the bare minimum and picking up draft picks over the last three years has cured the lack of a farm system, but now the team needs to start winning back the hearts and minds of the people of Houston. A small improvement in their record built around moderate additions like Fowler and the progress of a few young player like Jason Castro, Dallas Keuchel andJarred Cosart should help them out of the century-loss range and hopefully, that brings fans back to the team. A few more additions aimed improving now and in the future could happen before the winter is over as well. The great Houston rebuild is still years from complete, but the team is now starting to add talent to places other than the low minors at least.
Pro players fight what they call dishonest money managers
By Donna Gehrke-White, Sun Sentinel December 25, 2013
An elite group of multimillionaire National Football League players say they were blindsided — off the football field.
Documents filed in court and arbitration proceedings lay out allegations from at least 12 South Florida former or current pro football players, 10 of whom were NFL first-round picks. Eleven complained about a Broward financial adviser who regulators said earlier this year made "unsuitable recommendations to invest in "illiquid, high-risk securities" in a now bankrupt casino in Alabama. Eight of the players filed suit in October alleging forged documents and unauthorized transactions were made by the financial adviser's firm on behalf of the Alabama casino. A 12th player, a Miami Dolphin, filed a claim against an adviser in the Washington, D.C., metro area for getting him into a promissory note investment that his attorney in an arbitration claim said "was part of a large Ponzi scheme."
The two advisers were banned this year from trading securities by the Financial Industry Regulatory Agency, the largest U.S. independent regulatory agency that Congress authorized to protect investors. Initial findings from FINRA appear to back up some of the athletes' claims.
For example, in the arbitration filing, Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Jared Odrick's attorney said the player's financial adviser in the Washington metro area had recommended investing $250,000 in a promissory note by the parent company of Success Trade Securities that FINRA's Department of Enforcement later accused of committing securities fraud. The parent company's CEO intended to use invested money in paying about $794,000 in personal expenses through "undocumented, interest-free loans," the enforcement department alleged in a complaint. Investigators also said the CEO was using investors' funds to pay the $1,300 monthly lease on his Range Rover and to pay about $82,000 to his brother through the "undocumented, interest-free loans."
Some of the professional athletes have run into problems because, like many other Americans, they aren't educated about personal finance, said Odrick's Miami attorney, Jeffrey Sonn. Then they suddenly have to manage millions of dollars when they join a pro team, Sonn said.
"They are taken advantage of at a higher rate," than other highly paid professionals because they come into money at an early age, agreed attorney Andrew Kagan of Fort Myers. "They aren't used to handling it."
Kagan represents 16 current or former pro football players — half of whom live in South Florida — in a lawsuit filed in late October in federal court in Fort Lauderdale against a bank for allegedly allowing about $53 million to be taken from players' accounts for "illegitimate" purposes by the firm of recently banned Broward County financial adviser Jeffrey Rubin.
Plaintiffs in Kagan's lawsuit include NFL alumni Tavares Gooden, Jevon Kearse, Santana Moss and Fred Taylor of Broward; Santonio Holmes of Palm Beach County; and Frank Gore, Brandon Meriweather and Clinton Portis of Miami-Dade.
The lawsuit alleges forgeries and "numerous unusual, suspicious and extraordinary withdrawals," committed by Rubin's Fort Lauderdale company that allegedly siphoned off tens of millions of dollars from the players.
Rubin's attorney, James Sallah of Boca Raton, denied the lawsuit's allegations. He said Rubin did not misappropriate money from his football-playing clients or forge their signatures. Neither did Rubin "endorse or condone" his employees allegedly committing such wrongdoing, Sallah said.
"Obviously, Jeff was not aware" of any alleged forgeries and misappropriations occurring, Sallah added.
Other pro players have filed lawsuits or FINRA complaints involving Rubin.
South Florida natives Roscoe Parrish and Duane Starks, who played for the University of Miami before going on to pro careers — settled last year with the law firm Greenberg Traurig for an undisclosed amount after they were among those accusing the law firm of allegedly failing to warn them of a failed Alabama casino deal that Rubin promoted. A Greenberg Traurig attorney allegedly had set the players up in limited liability companies for the players to invest in the casino, according to published reports.
Another NFL player, cornerback Samari Rolle, who attended Miami Beach High School and played for Florida State University, blamed his financial woes on Rubin in a complaint filed to FINRA.
FINRA barred Rubin from the securities industry in March, after investigators found 31 NFL players lost tens of millions of dollars in failed investments, including the Alabama casino that went bankrupt. Rubin cooperated fully with the FINRA investigation and agreed to his ban without admitting any guilt, his attorney Sallah said.
Rubin told players about the risks associated with the investments, including the casino deal, Sallah said. "They knew about it," he said.
At least eight players have complained to Pembroke Pines financial planner Eric Pettus about not having the money they thought they had when they were using Rubin as a financial adviser to make investments.
The players have struggled with rebuilding their finances; they have had to downsize, such as selling homes and "significantly" reducing their living expenses, Pettus said.
"They're often in a desperate situation," Pettus said. They've earned millions of dollars, he said, but "suddenly they wake up to find they only have $100,000 in the bank.
"There's a perception that [these] players are frivolously spending, and they aren't," he added.
Sometimes players are able to get back a portion of their money in out-of-court settlements, but they then invariably have to sign confidentiality agreements and pledge not to pursue the matter further in court, Pettus added.
Many players are also embarrassed and don't want to talk publicly about any alleged fleecing, attorneys said.
Some meet their future financial planners while still in college and depend on them for other matters, such as recommending an agent, said South Florida attorney Chase Carlson. In some cases, financial advisers have gone to college campuses to find clients before they hit it big in the pros, said Carlson, who helped file a lawsuit in state circuit court in Miami-Dade in August for NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens to recover $5 million he claims he lost after hiring Rubin.
"They are easy prey because they spend all their college life on football, and they don't focus on finances," Chase said.
Others get the names of financial planners from staffers at their agent's office — and then go online to confirm that the advisers are on the approved list of the NFL Players Association, which conducts background checks on brokers and verifies they have insurance.
That's how the Dolphins' Odrick became acquainted with his former adviser Jinesh Brahmbhatt — who was on the Players Association's list — only to get caught up in an alleged Ponzi scheme, according to Sonn, Odrick's attorney.
At an initial meeting at a Miami Beach restaurant, Brahmbhatt, who is from the Washington, D.C., metro area, boasted of representing many football players and promised Odrick that he would focus on "safe investments that would generate a consistent stream of income," according to arbitration documents filed to FINRA by Sonn.
Odrick then gave Brahmbhatt $3.3 million in cash and securities to manage. But like several other unnamed NFL players that FINRA investigators noted in a report, Odrick was invested in what a FINRA report called "fraudulent and unregistered sales of promissory notes." According to the FINRA disciplinary complaint, Ahmed and unnamed respondents "intentionally misrepresented material facts and omitted to disclose other material facts to investors."
The promissory notes raised more than $18 million for the discount online broker, Success Trade Securities of the Washington, D.C., metro area where Brahmbhatt was employed or was a registered representative, according to Odrick's arbitration claim and the FINRA disciplinary complaint.
Success Trade Securities' parent company, Success Trade Inc. used new investors' money to pay the monthly interest of existing investors, FINRA Department of Enforcement investigators found. "In fact, the only way the company has been able to meet its monthly interest obligations is by selling additional notes and using those proceeds to make payments to existing note-holders," the FINRA Department of Enforcement alleged.
The department alleged in a complaint filed earlier this year that investors' money paid for interest-free loans and other perks to Success Trade CEO Fuad Ahmed.
In his FINRA filing, Odrick claimed $625,000 in outstanding promissory notes, including money given to another company for unregistered promissory notes and said Success Trade,, Ahmed and Brahmbhatt, have caused damages "of $500,000 to $1,000,000."
Success Trade Securities and CEO Ahmed are now awaiting a decision by a FINRA board on the company's fate. In April, the company agreed not to sell more notes after FINRA issued a temporary cease-and-desist order.
In an interview, Success Trade's attorney, William "Skee" Saacke, denied any wrongdoing and said the firm hadn't been raising money as part of a Ponzi scheme. Instead, the company was trying to build enough capital to expand, he said.
"It's still a profitable company," Saacke said.
Meanwhile, Brahmbhatt agreed last month to his ouster from the securities trade without admitting or denying guilt after he didn't show up to testify at a FINRA hearing on Success Trade Securities. The NFL Players Association removed his name from its list once he was banned.
His attorney, Alan Futerfas, said Brahmbhatt didn't do anything wrong. In fact, he, his mother, his employees and some of their family members similarly invested their own money in Success Trade. "They had skin in the game," Futerfas said.
Brahmbhatt invested most of his pro players' money in safe bonds, Futerfas said. But about 20 percent went into riskier ventures such as the Success Trade securities because they promised higher interest payments — at least 10 to 12 percent.
Some of the players needed the interest income to pay bills, Futerfas said.
"They had weekly expenses with cars, houses and all kinds of other stuff," he said.
Brahmbhatt and his employees put players on a budget so they wouldn't have to dip into their principal, Futerfas added.
Still, the players' alleged overspending doesn't excuse Brahmbhatt for putting players' money in illegal securities, countered attorney Sonn.
In noting one of Odrick's investments with Success Trade, Sonn wrote in the FINRA arbitration filing, "This promissory note is an unregistered security sold in violation of the Securities Act and SEC Regulations."
Adjusting for the Better
Albert Einstein famously said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. One could certainly define the first nine games Houston’s Brad Peacock made last season for the Astros in such a way.
In those nine games, Peacock started five times while working four out of the bullpen. He pitched just 29 innings, allowing 53 baserunners, 26 runs, and 8 home runs. Opponents had a .419 wOBA against him and the 8.07 ERA was a harsh reminder of what can happen when a pitcher struggles with command and pitches from behind in the count. A big part of those struggles was his inability to handle left-handed batters. The 75 left-handed batters he faced in those first 9 outings had a .506 wOBA against him while the 63 right-handed batters had a more reasonable .315 wOBA.
He went down to the minor leagues in need of both confidence and a change in approach because his approach was simply not getting the desired results. One thing he did to adjust his process was to add a new pitch. As Peacock said later in the season, ““I knew I needed another pitch, and I was struggling when I came up here,” he said. “I wanted to try something different. I got a slider, so I just rolled with it.”
Roll with it, he did.
Peacock made 10 appearances in Triple-A Oklahoma City while working on his slider, and limited batters to a .228/.276/.354 stat line over 57.2 innings. He permitted 12 earned runs and allowed just 5 home runs during that time while throwing strikes 63% of the time, compared to the 56% rate he had at the major league level. It was quite the improvement from a guy who allowed batters to hit .275/.357/.470 in the same league one year prior. His improvements did not go unnoticed.
He was recalled to Houston in early August and it did not take Bo Porter longto notice the changes the pitcher had made.
“He’s much improved from the other stints in which he was up here,..Again, when you come up and go down and you’re given certain information of things you need to do to pitch at this level. These guys are taking heed to the information. They’re going down and working on the things in which they need to work on. Our Triple-A staff is doing a tremendous job and they’re coming down here ready to play.”
His catcher, Jason Castro, also took quick notice of the differences in Peacock’s approach to his craft.
“He looks good…He’s been real aggressive with his fastball, and I think that’s kind of what he needed to work on. His (velocity) is definitely back to where it was. He’s attacking, getting ahead with his fastball and that is setting up his other stuff. He also developed a slider, which has been a big pitch for him. He threw a lot of those tonight. It’s his swing-and-miss pitch. I was really impressed when he came back that he was able to kind of get a feel for it that quickly. He’s done a good job.”
His final nine outings of the 2013 season were all starts. Over 54.1 innings of work, he struck out 54 batters and limited batters to a .287 wOBA and his 3.64 ERA was a far cry from the first half of the season. The gap between his results against lefties and righties still existed, but it was much less drastic. With the slider in his repertoire, Peacock limited righties to a .223 wOBA and lefties to a .330 wOBA. He threw 144 sliders in that time allowing just 7 hits – all singles. With both a curveball and a slider in play, Peacock was able to generate more swings and misses and his rate upon his return from the minors was in the top 15th percentile in the league. Previously, his rate was in the bottom 15th percentile in the league.
By season’s end, Peacock was looking like the pitcher the Astros wanted when they dealt Jed Lowrie to Oakland last season. Nearly two years ago, Kevin Goldstein projected him as a good third starter. Peacock certainly made strides in the second half of the season to reach that projection after looking like he may not get to that point in the first half of the season.