Wednesday, November 20, 2013

0 comments Bleacher Report Continues It's Shameless Use of Borrowing Data from Another Writer to Create a Slideshow; Also May Not Understand What "Value" Means

We have seen instances before where Bleacher Report writers have essentially just taken data from another site in order to push out a cheap slideshow. We have seen instances where Bleacher Report has used another person's ideas to write a slideshow. Now, we have an instance where this writer for Bleacher Report was perusing and then decides to let Tim Dierkes and Steve Adams do all the work in gathering the data together so that he can push out a cheap slideshow about the 15 best "value" pitching free agents this winter. Of course, he doesn't understand what the term "value" means since he has players on this list who he projects will earn $12 million or more per year. I'm not sure a pitcher who is earning $12-$15 million or more per year can be considered a "value" as long as that pitcher isn't one of the best pitchers in baseball. But hey, it doesn't matter if the content of the slideshow contradicts the premise of the slideshow. That doesn't matter. What does matter is the author had someone else do all the research and this was an easy slideshow to put together.

While it's easy to say who the top free agents available are, determining their value is another story. After all, Edwin Jackson was the No. 4-ranked starting pitcher on the market last year before the Cubs signed him for four years and $52 million. In return, he went 8-18 with a 4.98 ERA. So the Cubs didn't get good value out of him.

And of course the only way to evaluate a pitcher is wins and losses. Fine, Jackson stunk, but Jackson's ranking on the free agent market is irrelevant for most discussions as to "value" and a pitcher's free agent ranking is an arbitrary ranking that has very little factual value to me.

On the other hand, the Tigers re-signed Anibal Sanchez for five years and $80 million and got a league-best 2.57 ERA out of him. That was money well spent.

Except he wasn't a free agent when they signed him. So, they had money well-spent, but this wasn't money they spent on a free agent. This slideshow is supposed to be about free agents, no?

So, who are the best value pitchers? Here's a look at the 15 best values on the free-agent market.

As long as you ignore the use of the word "value" and try to ignore that the author relied on someone else's work to come to his conclusions, you will absolutely love this slideshow. Let's start ranking the 15 best "values" on the free agent market.

Let's start the slideshow!

15. Paul Maholm

Maholm was 10-11 with a 4.41 ERA in 2013 and has only had a winning record once in his career.

Of course he played for the Pirates and the Cubs, so it's hard to win games when you don't play for a good team for most of your career.

But he still provides a lot of value as a left-handed starter.

Maholm's value exists in that he is a left-handed human being who plays baseball professionally.

Tim Dierkes of believes Maholm will end up with a one-year, $7 million deal, although he could also see him getting a second year.

Get used to seeing Tim Dierkes or another writers mentioned as the source of the information as to whether these pitchers are a value or not. This is typical Bleacher Report. The author writes a column about what a value certain pitchers will be, then uses someone else's work/opinion to show the player is going to be a value.  

14. Ubaldo Jimenez

Steve Adams of believes Jimenez will receive a three-year, $39 million deal, or even an Edwin Jackson-type deal for $52 million over four years.

No really, click on the link. That's nearly exactly what Steve Adams wrote about Ubaldo Jimenez.

However, $13 million a year for less than 11 wins over each of the last three years is a bit too much. That's more than $1 million per win.

So why is Jimenez even ranked on a list of best values on the free agent market when he isn't even close to being a value? Other than Bleacher Report wants pageviews and longer slideshows allow the opportunity for more pageviews, accuracy of the slideshow be damned.

13. Joaquin Benoit

He finished the year with 24 saves and a 2.01 ERA.
Steve Adams of believes Benoit is looking at something in the neighborhood of two years and $16 million.

Steve Adams said Benoit would get "in the vicinity" of two years and $16 million. So at least he changed "vicinity" to "neighborhood." For some of Bleacher Report's writers that's some high creativity.

But will his 6.35 ERA during the playoffs hurt him? Let's also not forget that he was thrust into the closer's role when the Tigers struggled to find a closer. He just happened to do well.

Yes, will Benoit's small sample size overshadow the large sample size that said he was a good closer? Also, I like how the author says Benoit was "thrust" into the role of closer, but just happened to do well, as if Benoit didn't do well based on his talent or something. Like it was an accident Benoit did well.

Is Mike Trout one of the American League's best players? He didn't hit well in April. Let's not forget he was thrust into his role as an outfielder and just happened to be one of the best outfielders in the baseball.

But there's no guarantee that it will continue.

I guess this is as opposed to the other available free agents who are guaranteed to continue to play well.

With those question marks, it's hard to say Benoit is a good value at $8 million a year heading into 2014.

And yet, he is on a list that ranks the best free agent values. Perhaps this slideshow is a few slides too long?

Then the writer cites again and ranks Ricky Nolasco as the 12th best pitching value with a projected contract of $13 million per year. I'm not even sure the word "value" can be used when Nolasco gets $13 million per year and is on the list. It's like listing the Top 20 healthiest items on the menu at McDonald's and numbers 11-20 wouldn't even be close to healthy, so it seems counter intuitive to even have them placed on a list with the word "healthy."

11. Joe Nathan

Nathan was one of the best closers in baseball in 2013, with a 1.39 ERA and 43 saves on the year.

Good thing Nathan wasn't thrust into the role of closer or it would have just happened that he was one of the best closers in baseball. And don't forget, that's no guarantee his success will continue.

Tim Dierkes of believes Nathan can get a two-year, $26 million deal.
However, despite his successes, $13 million a year is too much to pay for a closer. Other closer-type guys will make far less money and put up near the same stats as Nathan.

I'm not sure how a closer making $13 million per year is a better value than an average pitcher making $7 million per year (Paul Maholm), but I don't usually like to apply logic to Bleacher Report's slideshows if I can help it.

10. Eric O'Flaherty

Steve Adams of wrote back in May that because of the surgery, O'Flaherty would have to settle for a one-year deal—or even a minor league deal. For the team that signs him, his value will be huge, provided there are no setbacks.

Steve Adams or Tim Dierkes could have consolidated their work and just written this slideshow themselves. 

For teams that are looking for a setup man, or even a relatively inexpensive closer, O'Flaherty could be that guy that provides the best value.

Whoa, whoa. A closer? You don't want to thrust O'Flaherty into the closer role because he has never done that before. Have we learned nothing from Joaquin Benoit? I'm shocked the author thinks O'Flaherty can be a closer because he's never closed games before and there's no guarantee O'Flaherty's success would continue if he became a closer.

9. Dan Haren

According to Bill Ladson of, Haren would prefer to pitch for a team on the West Coast to be closer to his family. That cuts the market by more than 75 percent and could see Haren's dollars go down.

Yeah, Haren "prefers" to pitch on the West Coast until no West Coast team offers him the large contract an East Coast team offers and then he will be fine pitching on the East Coast.

He made $13 million last year and will likely be seeking the same amount of money for 2014. After all, his ERA only jumped up 0.34 points from 2012.

Oh, his ERA "only" jumped up 0.34 points from 2012? That's great. Haren's ERA jumped 1.16 points from 2011 to 2012, so he's trending the wrong way, plus he is 33 years old and his home run rate has nearly doubled over the last two seasons from what it was in 2011. But hey, Haren strikes out a lot of batters and that's super-exciting to watch!

In five of the last seven years, he's had at least 192 strikeouts, which is likely why he got a $13 million contract from the Nationals.

If he can recapture that magic, $13 million could be a good investment for a team looking to solve problems in the rotation.

Not at all. If Dan Haren gets $13 million per year over more than one year then this will not be a good investment. His performance is declining, his innings are declining, and his home run rate is increasing. I guess it says a lot about the free agent market that a declining pitcher who gets $13 million per year is "a good investment."
8. Matt Garza

Matt Garza may be the most sought-after pitcher this offseason, but he hasn't been overly impressive throughout his career. In eight years, Garza is 67-67 with a 3.84 ERA. He's only had two winning seasons in his career, but he gets strikeouts.

This writer is very, very impressed with a pitcher who gets a lot of strikeouts. Also, giving us Garza's win-loss record as proof he hasn't been impressive isn't a very impressive way of evaluating him as a pitcher.

Matt Sullivan of SB Nation believes Garza will have the same type of season that Ryan Dempster had in 2012, before he got a two-year, $26.5 million deal:

The big difference in the two pitchers of course being that Dempster was around six years old than Matt Garza when he got the two-year $26.5 million deal.

Regardless, Sullivan believes Garza will receive something in the neighborhood of five years and $70 million.

I would shudder to ask the author this, but I wonder what HE thinks Garza will receive. After all, he's the guy writing a slideshow listing the best free agent pitching values. Inherent in this slideshow is that the author would be able to give his own opinion as to what the best free agent pitching values are, as opposed to simply relying on the opinion of others.

He doesn't have a history of strong performances, which makes the value of his potential deal not the best in the world. If the signing team can get 15-17 wins on average from him, then it will be a good deal.

If the signing team can get 15-17 wins on average from Garza then he would be averaging more wins per year under his new contract than his current career high in wins in a season (15 wins). Also, don't judge Garza's contract by how many wins he has. That's stupid.

But he's only gotten to 15 wins once in his career.

So he's a bad value, but the 8th best value on the free agent market with a contract averaging $14 million per year! Definitely a better value than Joe Nathan getting paid $13 million for one season. 

5. A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett has gotten paid handsomely over the last five years after the New York Yankees signed him to a five-year, $82.5 million deal in 2008.

I'm sure he was considered Bleacher Report's 8th best free agent value during that offseason, based entirely on the contract someone other than a Bleacher Report writer projected Burnett would receive.

Steve Adams of believes Burnett is still unsure about pitching in 2014, and if he does, he'll only be seeking a one-year deal.

If that's the case, Burnett could give it a go for one more year, trying to help the Pirates take the next step. He's a good value in the NL, and the Pirates are where his value is its highest.

Yes, but are the Pirates going to pay $12 million for a year of A.J. Burnett? I know this author loves his pitchers who strike hitters out, but is Burnett really a great value at $12 million per year (which is the amount Steve Adams seems to think Burnett will get)? I'm not sure that would make Burnett the 5th best free agency pitching value.

4. Hiroki Kuroda

If he does stay in the U.S., Kuroda will likely command another one-year deal for about $15 million. 
While his record was only 11-13, he still had an ERA of 3.31. In fact, in the six years he's been in the U.S., he hasn't had an ERA over 3.76.

But how many wins does Kuroda have? That's the real test of his talent as a pitcher. Who cares if Kuroda has started 30+ games for four years straight, let's talk about his record "only" being 11-13.

He was the Yankees' best pitcher this year, and the $15 million was well worth it—at least compared to the money the team spent on a number of injured stars.

I'm still not sure if $15 million for Kuroda could be considered the 4th best "value" on the free agent market. $15 million prices a lot of teams out of the running for Kuroda, thereby ruining the idea he is any type of value.

3. Ervin Santana

Ervin Santana is one of the best free-agent pitchers on the market in terms of overall best and best value.

I am not sure I could disagree more. He's good, but not one of the best free agent pitchers AND one of the best values. Sorry, not happening with how the free agent market works. Very rarely is one of the best free agent pitchers available also turn out to be one of the best values.

In 2013, he went 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA and 161 strikeouts. While he had the same number of wins as he did in 2012,

Wins are a team-based statistic. Santana pitched with Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hitting behind him in 2012 and pitched with Billy Butler hitting behind him in 2013. He can't win a game if his team doesn't score runs.

his ERA dropped from 5.16 and his strikeouts increased by 28. He also had 23 quality starts in 2013, compared to 15 in 2012.

This author loves himself some strikeouts.

Santana could be seeking the same type of contract Kyle Lohse sought last year (five years, $75-90 million).

$15-$18 million per year for a pitcher that has put up a career ERA of 4.19, ERA+ of 100, and has a WAR of 15.7 over nine seasons? Yeah, I'm not sure I'm seeing how $15-$18 million per year for that is the 3rd best "value" among free agent pitchers. Santana is a good pitcher who is about to be overpaid...sort of not like what happened with Kyle Lohse, because he got three years for $33 million, not five years at $75-$90 million. So really Santana doesn't seem to be angling for a contract much like Lohse's.

2. Masahiro Tanaka

Oh yes, nothing screams "What a value!" like having to pay tens of millions of dollars for the privilege of even negotiating with a pitcher and his agent. 

Masahiro Tanaka is perhaps the top international free agent on this year's market, although he's technically not a free agent since his Japanese team will have to post him.

And really, when has Bleacher Report worried about technical details like "This pitcher who is being placed on a list of top free agent values isn't even really a free agent"? These are just small details. The important part is creating the slideshow with as many slides as possible to create pageviews, the rest is just small details.

But for every Darvish and Kuroda, there's also a Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kei Igawa and Hideki Irabu.

He's the 2nd best value on the free agent market though. 

King goes on to say that Tanaka's team, the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles could likely seek $60 million in a posting fee, while Tanaka could command five years and $60 million. If both of those came true, that would mean a team would commit have to $120 million for one player, though the posting fee wouldn't count toward the salary cap.

But spending $120 million over 5 years isn't even close to being a value for Tanaka. That's a really a lot of money to offer up over five years. That's spending $24 million per year on a pitcher who hasn't even thrown a pitch in the United States. The fact the posting fee doesn't count toward the cap doesn't make Tanaka any more of a value. Whichever team signs him still has to spend this posting fee money. 

The only reason Tanaka isn't in the top spot is that the posting fee will cost teams in addition to his salary. Other than that, he seems to be the most sought-after pitcher this offseason.


1. Tim Hudson

The 2013 season was only the second time in Tim Hudson's career that he didn't reach double-digits in wins, and that was mainly due to an ankle injury that ended his year.

Yes, I would say Hudson's failure to win 10 games can mostly be attributed to the fact he only started 21 games during the 2013 season.

Hudson has been as solid as they come, winning at least 16 games between 2010-12.

All this talk of wins and how this creates value in free agency...

Steve Adams of sees Hudson signing a one-year deal:

I sort of wish Steve Adams had just written this column.

If he can even win just 13 games, the money would be well worth it, making him the best value in this year's class.

If Hudson wins 12 games with a 3.50 ERA, then he isn't worth the money at all. I wonder where that would put him on the "best value" list if Hudson only won 12 games? Is it the $23 million for two years? If so, I'm not sure how $11.5 million per year for a guy coming off major surgery is a good value.

I'm still not certain how we know if that is a good value for Hudson. Certainly he would be behind the pitcher who is such a great value that the team that signs him has to shell out $24 million per year. I guess the author would have to ask someone from where Hudson would end up on the list at that point.