Friday, April 22, 2005

AB, Talent Evaluator

A few days ago, I posted a quasi-hysterical rant about Allard Baird's inability to acquire productive free agents. I've taken zee liberty of doing some research into this matter. I haven't included every acquisition, and there's no question that AB has scored a few coups (Paul Byrd, Raul Ibanez, Darrell May and Brian Anderson before they signed their 2 year contracts). But overall, I think the numbers support my contention and are quite striking:

Comparison of Player Performance, Year Prior to Signing Contract or Acquisition vs. Year After
PlayerVORP Year1VORP Year2Change
Darrell May44.20.6-43.6
Brian Anderson23.9-14.2-38.1
Neifi Perez13.6-21.2-34.8
Juan Gonzalez24.32.9-21.4
Chuck Knoblauch7.5-13.3-20.8
Matt Stairs33.813.4-20.4
Benito Santiago19.84.6-15.2
Tony Graffanino16.34.2-12.1
Roberto Hernandez22.511.6-10.9
Desi Relaford14.19.0-5.1
Scott Sullivan9.08.2-0.8

Not ONE of these players equaled, much less exceeded, their productivity from the prior year in their first season with the Royals. Some due to injury, some due to plain poor performance, but the consequences are the same - the Royals didn't get nearly the production from those players that they expected when they signed/acquired them. Relaford's demise is actually understated, because he was one of the worst position players in baseball during the second year of his contract. And the problem is not simply that the Royals are signing second and third-tier talent. We all know they're hamstrung by a limited budget. Its that these acquisitions didn't even perform to their modest expectations - in EVERY case. Joe Randa probably performed to expectations, but that's about all.

This has to be on the GM. I may have even agreed with some of these signings when they took place, but I'm doing so from the comfort of home, while AB has the responsibility of putting together a major league baseball team. Should there be no consequences for not getting one major league acquisition right?

Mike Sweeney (not shown), of course, has been a disappointment. I don't blame the Royals for signing him, because the fan base may have completely imploded had they not. But the fact is that the Royals signed him to a 5 year contract at the peak of his performance curve and he's been injured and less productive ever since. The fluky winning record of 2003 threw salt on the wound, guaranteeing the final two years of his contract which will weigh on the Royal payroll through 2007.

This year isn't starting any better, as Jose Lima and Eli Marrero are off to putrid starts. Terrence Long hasn't been bad, but I have no reason to expect much out of him.

Had AB not had such a strong year in 2004 acquiring young talent, I think there would be a clear cut case for relieving him of his duties. I'm willing to give him through this year to see what he can do with the draft and the continued movement of players off of this roster. But he simply has to improve his ability to spot good deals in the big league player marketplace. He has nowhere to go but up.


At 1:31 PM, Blogger Tony said...

I need to talk to you about the statistics on which you base your caluclations because, no matter how bad you think the Royals are, rest assured that the stats for Cleveland (Browns, Indians, Cavs) free agent aquisitions over the last 25 years are absolutley pathetic compared to the player's stats before they arrived on the shores of Lake Erie.

PS - Nice blog. Cheers.

At 2:01 PM, Blogger DL said...

Hey, you know how long it took me to make that table? That's more effort than Allard Baird puts into this major league talent acquisition decision-making.

Ya, maybe its just the case that when you can only acquire third-rate talent, the odds of collapse are sky high, and its not just Baird. But I'll assume its Baird's fault until proven otherwise.

And at least you have Lebron. For now.

Thanks for the compliment.


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