Friday, December 28, 2012

0 comments Terence Moore Says Lifetime Contracts are Great, Except When They Aren't, and Mike Trout Doesn't Deserve One but Bryce Harper Does

I think readers of this blog are familiar enough with Terence Moore at this point. He's sort of my new Joe Morgan. He hates instant replay, thinks team celebrations are not exciting anymore, and doesn't understand Scott Boras drives a hard bargain for his free agent clients. Now Terence is talking about "forever" contracts and how they are a great idea...except when they aren't. Terence not surprisingly gets the "forever" contract that Evan Longoria signed with the Rays confused with long-term contracts MLB teams sign free agents to. Longoria's contract is an example of a team signing a player it drafted to a long-term deal, while teams that sign free agents to a long-term contract are just signing a free agent to a long-term contract. There is a difference in perception among fans and the public alike. It's all the same to Terence and he doesn't find it important to write a column that is coherent and accurate on the topic discussed without ruining his own argument. Who cares if Terence is talking in generalities or compares Longoria's contract to non-analogous situations? You get his point. "Forever" contracts are good, unless they aren't.

The Tampa Bay Rays just did the right thing by signing Evan Longoria to one of those "forever" contracts. Thus a question:

How will Evan Longoria project out to the ages of 35-37? I don't really know but I look forward to a discussion by Terenc---

What's taking the Washington Nationals so long?

Spoiler alert: Terence Moore will soon refer to the free agent contracts signed by Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder as one of these "forever" contracts when they aren't. There are two major differences in the contract Longoria signed and Pujols/Fielder signed. Pujols/Fielder signed contracts as free agents, which is something Longoria was not, and they didn't sign these "forever" contracts with the team that signed them. The situations are not analogous. I spoil this fun revelation to point out two things:

1. The Nationals did sign Ryan Zimmerman to a contract that runs until he is 36 years old. So they have some history of signing their players to so-called "forever" contracts, providing the player and the player's agent are amenable to this of course. 

2. Terence is wrong on every account. If he includes a free agent contract as a "forever" contract then the Nationals Jayson Werth to a "forever" contract two years ago. Of course, this contract isn't analogous to Longoria's contract, so Terence is wrong on two counts.

They should do the same with Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg. 

I mean this in the nicest way possible, but is Terence Moore slow? Does he not follow baseball? Why don't the Nationals sign Strasburg and Harper to lifetime contracts? Two words why. Scott Boras. When was the last time Boras encouraged one of his elite baseball clients to sign a team-friendly deal or even re-sign with his current team and forgo free agency? I can't recall a time when Boras has advised his clients to do either of these things. Boras clients have signed deals with their current team, but he doesn't advise it. So outside of even having a discussion on what the terms of this contract would be for these two players, how would the Nationals even give Strasburg or Harper a "forever" contract if their agent suggests they don't sign one? Not to mention, Harper is 20 years old. A "forever" contract for him would be 15 years worth. That's quite a commitment. Not to further mention, Stephen Strasburg is just coming off Tommy John surgery. Giving him a seven year deal right now is a bit of a risk, even if Scott Boras would recommend Strasburg sign this long-term deal, which he probably wouldn't do.

Inquiring minds have a similar question for the New York Yankees regarding Robinson Cano. With their prized second baseman due to become a free agent after next season, why not give him a Longoria deal now,

Well, Cano is three years older than Longoria, the Yankees extended him in 2008, and his agent? Scott Boras. I'm seeing a trend here and it is a trend that Terence Moore doesn't seem capable of noticing in his columns. Scott Boras clients don't exactly sign "forever" deals prior to free agency nor do they give discounts to their current team. It is fun for Terence to ask questions for others to answer and refuse to work hard enough to get the answer for himself. 

Plus, the combination of the baseball gods, Tony Bennett (as in, "I left my heart ...") and common sense knows that Buster Posey deserves a lifetime contract with the San Francisco Giants. 

Of course, it isn't like Posey plays catcher, the position on the baseball field hardest on the body. He'll hold up fine and can play first base if need be. Where's his $200 million contract?

Mike Trout? I'm not saying his monster season as a rookie was a fluke, but before the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim think of committing to Trout like the Rays did to Longoria, they need to wait a little while -- like until the middle of next season. 

But that Bryce Harper? He's for real. Who cares Harper has been in the majors as long as Trout? Terence doesn't know enough about Trout to say he deserves a "forever" contract, but he's seen enough of Bryce Harper to know he needs a contract extension immediately. Throw in the fact Terence also believes Stephen Strasburg, a pitcher coming off major arm surgery, should also get a "forever" deal and I'm not sure how he can't think the same for Mike Trout.

So in summary, Mike Trout shouldn't be signed to a "forever" contract because Terence Moore doesn't have enough proof he is for real yet, but Bryce Harper, it's a shame he hasn't signed a 15 year deal with the Nationals yet. Nevermind the logic of randomly differentiating between two similarly-aged rookies who both play the outfield by saying one deserves a long-term contract NOW and the other does not. Logic is overrated.

Mike Trout almost won the MVP in his first season in the majors, as well as plays in the American League, while Bryce Harper plays in the National League. If both players were signed to long-term deals, at worst the Angels know they can play Trout at DH, but if something happened to Harper over the long-term to where he wasn't excellent on defense anymore the Nationals don't have such a chance to put him at the DH. So if you put a gun to my head, I would say Trout probably should get a "forever" contract over Harper. 

These "forever" contracts work.

Well, most of the time. They are good for the player, because they guarantee that player a designated amount of income for long stretches, regardless of that player's ups and downs through it all.

It's not always good for the player because it also buys out their arbitration years. Not only because arbitration is the gift that keeps on taking from teams (I'm just bitter from seeing how much money in arbitration Jeff Francoeur received to be a shitty hitter), it also means a player could be reducing how much money he could make in the prime years of his career since most players would normally go to arbitration in their mid-20's.

They are also good for the team, because if that player becomes even more prolific on the field, it saves the team from losing the player through free agency or having to engage in future bidding wars. 

Of course it is also tying up payroll for the future which could cause a team to be forced to trade these players below market value due to the money they are being paid. This doesn't happen too often (a player signing a deal 1-2 years after being in the majors and then not playing well to the point he gets traded), but there is still some risk involved with buying out a player's arbitration years.

Indians ownership agreed with Hart, and then he gave his version of "forever" deals to the likes of Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, Jim Thome, Carlos Baerga, Omar Vizquel, Manny Ramirez and Charles Nagy.

These silly facts that always get in the way of Terence Moore's point, can't they just go away? Terence Moore is either misremembering or outright lying here. I'll let you decide which.

-I'm pretty sure Manny Ramirez was never signed to a long-term contract with the Indians. He seems to have left for Boston right after he had his service time with the Indians in. Either way, if the Indians thought they signed him to a "forever" deal they did a shitty job of actually doing it because Ramirez was playing for the Boston Red Sox at the age of 29. Maybe "forever" only goes to the age of 29 in Terence Moore's world.

-Albert Belle also left the Cleveland Indians before "forever" had ended. It seems he played for them until he was 29 years old and had joined the Chicago White Sox by the age of 30.

-Kenny Lofton was traded to the Braves before he could hit free agency in the mid-1990's and then was signed by the Indians in free agency. I'm not sure if you would consider that signing him to a "forever" deal or not since the Indians traded him initially.

-Carlos Baerga was traded by the Indians at the age of 27 and then was signed by the Cardinals as a free agent. Again, if the Indians intended to give Baerga a "forever" deal, they did a crappy job of actually doing it.

So I don't completely understand how Terence Moore thinks these players were signed to "forever" deals by the Indians when it seems few of the players he listed actually were re-signed to long-term contracts.

Even though the Milwaukee Brewers haven't precisely duplicated the Indians' model under Hart, they did give a "forever" contract to Ryan Braun. The same goes for the Colorado Rockies with Troy Tulowitzki, the Angels with Albert Pujols, the Detroit Tigers with Prince Fielder and the Cincinnati Reds with Joey Votto. 

No. Not at all. The Angels and Tigers didn't give Pujols/Fielder "forever" deals. They signed these two players in free agency. There is a huge difference. An analogous situation to Evan Longoria would be if a team drafted a player and then re-signed him before he hit free agency. In fact, the Cardinals did sign Pujols to a "forever" deal, but then it ran out and he signed the Cardinals. The Tigers just signed Fielder in free agency. It's clear Terence took about five minutes to write this column without doing any thinking about what he was writing or checking to see if his facts were correct.

Bottom line: If you know somebody is a lasting star (or at least you think he is), why not sign him for the long run? 

Great point. Here's a better point. If you know a player on another team is going to be a lasting star, why not just trade for him? It's not like there is a cost to acquire a player just like there isn't a cost to sign a player to a long-term contract.

Terence Moore has no concept of a budget and how a General Manager plans payroll.

As's Adam Berry wrote earlier this season: "Those lower-payroll clubs can't afford to make a huge free-agent investment then see it fail, but they can realistically risk a $10 million-$13 million mistake." 

This fails no matter whether this is $10 million-$13 million per year or over the length of a contract. In that case, the Giants should ask Buster Posey if he wants a contract worth 6 years at $13 million and see how long he laughs. He would laugh if the contract offer were 6 years at $60 million. The Nationals should call up Scott Boras and tell him they are perfectly willing to offer Strasburg or Harper a chance at a 10 year $100 million contract each and see if Boras even bothers continuing with the conversation.

Not all players can have their arbitration years bought out at four years at $13 million, so Terence either means $10-$13 million per year or he isn't really talking about giving a long-term contract to these up-and-coming players. Guys like Bryce Harper, Steven Strasburg, and probably Mike Trout wouldn't take a four year deal for $13 million.

It's about using the right criteria for signing a "forever" player, and the blueprint looks much like Longoria.

You want somebody who can play. 

I don't know why a MLB team hasn't hired Terence Moore as their General Manager yet. You need players who can play? Those are the type of guys you sign to a long-term contract? No way.

You want somebody who won't grow ancient with the contract.

Check. Longoria turned 27 last month. 

But Longoria will be 37 years old when the contract ends. We don't know now if that is ancient or not, but you never know how a player will age. What looks good in 2012 may not look as good in 2020.

Check. Since Longoria is popular with teammates and fans, he is marketable for the Rays.
That said, during the early years of Longoria's career, he hasn't exactly been Lou Gehrig in terms of durability. This past season, he was around for only 74 games after partially tearing his left hamstring in April. He also missed much of the previous season with an oblique injury. 

But he's 27 years old. He's probably going to get more healthy as he ages, like many pro athletes are prone to doing. Athletes are always getting injured when they are young and then being very durable as they get to the other side of 30 years old.

I never said "forever" deals are perfect. 

You didn't. But you also said the Longoria deal fit the criteria for a player who deserves a "forever" contract while skimming over the part where he has had injury issues while being only 27 years old. 

Rodriguez was supposedly locked in with the Texas Rangers for life after he signed a 10-year deal for $252 million in 2000.

I hope Terence Moore doesn't think this is analogous to the Evan Longoria deal. It isn't. Alex Rodriguez signing with the Rangers isn't an analogous example because it isn't the Mariners signing him to this deal. This is an example of a baseball player signing an expensive long-term contract.

Then came the end of the 2007 season, when the Yankees gave Rodriguez his second "forever" contract. 

Okay, now I think Terence is just using the term "forever contract" to describe a long-term contract. He's making my head hurt.

Rodriguez is 37, and that will be Longoria's age when his current deal with the Rays expires. 

But remember Terence, you said Longoria is 27 so he won't grow ancient with the contract? Rodriguez has been declining over the last three seasons and so if he has declined then it is entirely possible Longoria could as well. I'm not saying it is a bad contract for the Rays, it's just I'm not entirely sure what Terence is getting at. He seems to support contracts like Longoria's, yet (as usual) he is ruining his own point.

Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman isn't concerned with it all.

"It gives it a much better chance than not of that happening. And all sides understand and appreciate the risk associated with it."

Makes sense to me.

Makes sense to me too. This is why it is such a great to sign up-and-coming players to "forever" contracts, so both sides can benefit...except for Mike Trout. The Angels need to wait-and-see before giving him a long-term contract. Giving a long-term contract to Bryce Harper or Steven Strasburg is a brilliant idea though. It's not like Strasburg has had any major surgery recently or anything like that.