Sunday, February 02, 2014

Million Dollar Baby

David Ortiz had a remarkable campaign in 2013, culminating in a World Series championship and a Series MVP. He's made it clear his priority (as is his right) is compensation.

But when sportswriters around America start declaring what the Red Sox should pay their DH and for how long, I cringe.

At the end of the day, you get paid whatever you and your employer agree upon. There is a "market price" for everything...and value is what you get and price is what you pay. David Ortiz is entitled to get whatever he can for his family and himself. But the Red Sox have little protection should age, time, or other factors change Ortiz' value. And Ortiz' leverage is limited to  free-spending American League teams without a surfeit of older players with probable DH roles.

It's certainly true that players often get paid for what they've done versus what they're likely to do. It's hard to project an older DH. Who are the comps?

Harold Baines had 25 homers and 122 RBI in two years for the White Sox and Orioles at age 38 through 39. Dwight Evans had 19 homers and 101 RBI during the same age for the Red Sox and Orioles. Yaz had 38 homers and 168 RBI for the same age. Edgar Martinez had 38 homers and 175 RBI for those two year with the Mariners. For the prior two years, Martinez had 61 homers and 231 RBI. In other words, time tends to cause mean reversion.

Maybe Ortiz, modern nutrition, athletic training, and 'supplements' have reset the clock. But while sentiment says 'yes', history and reality usually say 'caution'.

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