Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Buy Low, Sell High?

In the bright afterglow of another championship season, the competition has the audacity to raid the Sox pantry, shoplifting the Red Sox former centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury for the GDP of a small country. Of course, not everyone in New York is doing cartwheels. Daily New columnist Mike Lupica put it, the Yankees "don't just pay, they overpay."

Meanwhile the Red Sox lie low, waiting for the market to sort itself out, excepting the Boris Badanov Burke Badenhop era, and another Boston Bad Boy, A. J. Pierzynski, whom you'd think was less popular than Whitey Bulger. 

Now we're worrying about Jon Lester leaving, and probably soon starting to whine about signing Xander Bogaerts to a long-term deal. 

Yes, there is an imperative to value assets properly, to develop your high value pieces, young players under control with manageable salaries. Those 'values' allow you to sign higher priced (and often bigger gambles) free agents. 

First, more on Ellsbury, who authored a near MVP season in 2011, sandwiched among lengthy periods of injury. Does one philosophically believe that some players are injury prone? Some players seem more durable than others, or is it just random. Tim Naehring was the prototypical value player who couldn't stay healthy. Jed Lowrie was another talent who didn't seem capable of staying on the field. Is Ellsbury another 'injury prone' player, or a superstar just derailed at times by misfortune?

A separate issue is how much you assign Ellsbury's value. He's not the 2011 32-homer guy over a sustained period of time, but he has value above conventional OPS value because of the stolen bases. Also, the expectation of the back end of the contract (35 plus years old) isn't Barry Bonds-esque. 

I won't argue with the Sox' decision to pass on "The Winner's Curse" that was Jacoby Ellsbury. The reality is that you might strike it rich with an occasional 'bargain' like Jonny Gomes or David Ross, but expecting chicken salad from chicken feathers year after year is fools' gold. Talent wins and adding free agent championship pedigrees and number one draft choices will win out over the best junkyard dogs over the long pull. 

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