best counter

Your Ad Here
Just The Sports: Finally Some Restraint from Ricciardi

Just The Sports

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Finally Some Restraint from Ricciardi

Judging from recent comments from Toronto Blue Jays G.M. J.P. Ricciardi indicating that he will not lavish upon center fielder Vernon Wells a similar contract extension to the one the Mets gave to Carlos Beltran (7 years, $119 million, $11 million signing bonus), he is finally ready to show the restraint he did not show last off-season.

Last off-season, the Blue Jays owners finally opened their wallets and Ricciardi spent their extra money like a starving boy who finds $20 lying on the street and decides to spend all of it on two overpriced $10 meals instead of dining off Taco Bell's low-price menu for five days.

Closer B.J. Ryan, whom Ricciardi gave $47 million over five years, was one of those overpriced commodities. Ryan rewarded Ricciardi's confidence by placing sixth in the majors in terms of Relievers Expected Wins Added above Replacement Level (5.987 WXRL), but that is not an indicator of future success. Since Ryan's contract is five years, I looked at the seasons 2002-2006 to see how well reliever repeated their performances from year to year. It turns out they do not do so well. Thirty different pitchers made the top ten in WXRL and only seven pitchers appeared in the top ten in at least two seasons. Ricciardi would have been well-advised to not pay so highly for such a fungible position.

Oft-injured A.J. Burnett was the other foolish purchase made by the Blue Jays. Ricciardi tried to rationalize the deal by saying he did not give Burnett $55 million over five years for the first year, which is true, but $55 million is a lot of money for a pitcher that may only be healthy a full year two seasons out of the five. That is not exactly a great return on the investment.

As for not wanting to pay Wells Beltran-like money, when I read that and before I did any real research, I immediately thought to myself, duh, Wells isn't nearly the player that Beltran is. Wells is better than I was giving him credit for, though.

In seasons where the two players played at least half a season, Wells has a batting line of .288 BA/.336 OBP/.499 SLG/.276 GPA and Beltran's is .281 BA/.355 OBP/.493 SLG/.283 GPA. The difference between the two is Beltran has a much better walk-to-strikeout ratio and he has slugged at least .500 five of the past six seasons. Wells, however, has really only had two superb seasons (2003 and 2006) and the other three seasons he has been basically a league-average hitter. Perhaps if he sustains his performance of this year to next year, he will live up to a big-money contract extension, lower than Beltran's of course.

Beltran has also played better defense in center field in his career, another reason why is he a more valuable player than Vernon Wells.

Since Ricciardi has not even talked to Wells or Wells's agent about a contract extension, his comments may seem a little odd, but Blue Jays fans should be happy to know he has broken himself of the habit of flushing money down the toilet.


Post a Comment

<< Home