Yesterday’s big news was the contract extension signed by Nolan Arenado with the Colorado Rockies. The deal replaces Arenado’s current contract which had one year to run with an 8-year deal worth $260M – that is $32.5M per year if you don’t have access to a calculator right now. It has a full no-trade clause and an opt-out clause for Arenado after the third season (2021). Arenado is 27 years old; he has led the National League in home runs three times in his career. Last year he hit 38 home runs, drove in 110 runs and posted an OPS of .925. And he is no slouch in the field either. From my perspective, he has another important asset that he brings with him to the field:
- To this point in his career, he has been low maintenance and has produced no soap opera level drama.
And that brings me to the masters of baseball drama – – Bryce Harper and Scott Boras. Yesterday, there was a headline in the Washington Post that read:
“Arrieta knows Harper’s dilemma”
I am not providing a link here because the headline is the portion that is important. The dilemma is posited as getting a fair and reasonable deal from his perspective on one hand and getting into Spring training to “get up to game speed and build team chemistry” on the other hand. Would that I thought it was nearly so noble.
I think there is a more insidious way to look at Harper’s current situation where he can only work out by himself and not be with his future teammates. That insidious view goes something like this:
- Scott Boras has been doing the agent-thing since Harper graduated from high school saying that he was a transformational player who comes along once in a lifetime. That is what Boras is supposed to do.
- Bryce Harper has come to believe that sort of narrative – even when faced with the reality that there are other players in MLB who are as good as he is in some cases and better than he is in other cases. He is an exceptional talent; he is not a once in a lifetime player. Put into less polite terms, Scott Boras’ agent-speak has pumped sunshine up Bryce Harper’s ass.
- Scott Boras has an agenda to work here. He let it be known that Harper might be worth a $400M deal about 2 years ago. Now as a free agent, it is pretty clear that he will not get that big a deal and now Boras needs to deliver a deal that is record-breaking just to maintain the “Boras Mystique”.
- The dilemma Bryce Harper faces in this scenario is much more basic. He has to decide if Scott Boras works for him or if he works for Scott Boras. No matter what happens, he will be making enough money to change the lives of his progeny and this progeny’s progeny for several generations. Sometime soon, he must decide who works for whom in his relationship with Scott Boras.
I enjoy reading much of the statistical analyses published at fivethirtyeight.com – particularly the ones related to sports and to politics. I do not pretend to have a solid understanding of all the math that underpins many of the features there, but I have faith in the statisticians there to get the calculations right. Earlier this week, a reader here sent me a link to an article there by Nate Silver with this headline:
“Relievers Have Broken Baseball. We Have A Plan To Fix It.”
This article does not focus on the effect a parade of relief pitchers has on the length of games or the pace of play; this article focuses on a statistical analysis of what happens to offensive stats in MLB when teams bring in what Silver dubs “OMG” pitchers. OMG in this case stands for One-inning Max-effort Guys. Getting through a lot of stats and math here, offense is stifled in this circumstance and the way teams set up to be able to implement this strategy is to carry 12 or 13 pitchers on the MLB roster and then use minor league call ups and the injured list creatively to assure they always have enough of those sort of guys in the bullpen for every series.
Silver’s proposed solution is interesting.
- Each team should be limited to carrying 10 pitchers on its 25-man active roster, plus an Emergency Pitcher.
The Emergency Pitcher is an interesting concept. He is not a guy on the 40-man roster; he is signed on to come in and pitch in games that have gotten out of hand or if the starter is injured or it is long extra inning game. Moreover, when the rosters expand and teams have 40 players available in September, he would require any called up pitcher to throw at least 60 pitches in any game appearance.
Here is a link to the article. If you are a baseball stat fan, you will like this one.
Finally, here is a Tweet from Brad Dickson:
“There’s a new bill in the Kansas Legislature establishing the polka as the official state dance. How the hell did the Nebraska Legislature miss this one?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………