Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kendall Continues

I want to continue the conversation about Jason Kendall because I think it's relevant to player evaluation and worth. The comparison between Brad Ausmus and Jason Kendall was brought up. Ausmus made $4 million last year with the Astros. Now, that's horrible for obvious reasons but at least he had a WARP of 3.3 with positive defensive stats. Kendall had a fantastic WARP of 0.1 and 0.9 split between the A's and Cubs. PECOTA has them projected for WARPs of 1.3 and 1.7 for Ausmus and Kendall respectively (link for Ausmus and link for Kendall).

So they're both pretty terrible players at this point. But Kendall is making $4.25 million in guaranteed money this year. Ausmus is making $2 million. Also, PECOTA has Kendall down as a below average defensive catcher and that will only worsen with age. At least Ausmus still has a positive defensive rating.

That's the entire point, though. Ausmus is being properly valued as a defensively minded, veteran catcher who can help a rookie, Towles, make the transition into the bigs. Kendall is being paid as if he's still a starter, a guy who can positively contribute to the team offensively and defensively. And he can't do either, really. The contract is just horrid and above market any way you cut it.

Oh, and one other thing in Ausmus' favor: he went to Dartmouth. 'Nuff said.


Mooch said...

Great WARP stats. A quick side-note is to check out the numbers from 2005 and 2006 where Kendall and Ausmus were much closer with Kendall having a better average WARP (4.7 to 3.65) over that time. Keep in mind the decline in the Oakland lineup with the rise in the Houston one during that time as well as Kendall's move back to the NL and adjusting to a new manger and team during 2007. Also note that Kendall is projected to have a WARP of 1.7 to Ausmus' 1.3 in 2008.

But also check out Paul Lo Duca (who is definitely a better offensive catcher than either of these guys) but only has a projected WARP of 2.3 for 2008 yet he received a $5million dollar contract. Interesting to note is that Lo Duca is NOT a good defensive catcher (having abysmal defensive numbers in 2007) , so he is being paid for offensive skills only.

I'm not arguing that Kendall was twice as valuable as Ausmus as the contracts would indicate rather I am pointing out that the market may have changed to pay these prices for single-faceted players. The Kendall contract is NOT like Posada's and Pudge's who are assumed to help in both offense and defense. Kendall's contract is much more like Michael Barrett's and Lo Duca's. It is also important to notice Yorvit Torrealba is being paid $7million over 2 years (projected WARP is 2.4 and then 1.3 for those two years) and has only ONE full season as a catcher to justify that. So again, I think the Kendall contract is more indicative of where the market has settled into.

sanstodo said...

I agree with the assessment of Lo Duca. He's also being overpaid. But at least he's doing SOMETHING decently, meaning hitting. Kendall isn't good defensively or offensively. Sure, Lo Duca's value is something of an illusion due to his horrid defense. But it's a bit more justifiable than paying Kendall when it's fairly obvious that he doesn't do anything well.

And about Torrealba, he's 29. He should be in his prime and has at least a smidgen of upside. His contract is pretty bad as well but the Rockies were smart and locked up some of their young stars up before the Howard bomb hit the arbitration market. So they have much more cost certainty going forward than the Brewers making it easier to swallow a bad short term contract. The Brewers have yet to face that mountain and the Kendall contract makes it that much harder for them to make it happen.

In any case, I think the market is horribly wrong on pretty much all of these contracts. There's no reason to overpay for mediocre catching in fantasy and there's no reason to overpay in real life either. I believe that the market will catch on eventually; in the meantime, teams will definitely regret these contracts (just ask the Pirates) and come out wiser.

Adam said...

I think the fact that all of these teams pay for mediocre to aweful players is that major league owners, as a whole, are risk averse. Instead of investing the money and time into scouting and signing unheard of players to fill these positions/roles, they pay for known quantities.

As much as "Money Ball" has caught on, it really hasn't changed the whole philosophy of baseball talent evaluation as much as we think. Jason Kendall sucks, Brad Ausmus sucks a little less (Go Green!), and Paul Lo Duca is way overpaid (but he plays for the Mets so I don't care!).