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View Full Version : Investing in closers a bad idea



savafan
07-14-2011, 01:24 AM
http://www.oxfordpress.com/oxford-sports/cincinnati-reds/investing-in-closers-a-bad-idea-1206734.html


The Cincinnati Reds will have big roster decisions to make when the 2011 season ends, including how to replace Francisco Cordero at closer.

Hopefully recent years will convince the team not to invest a big chunk of its payroll in a closer, as they have not gotten much bang for the buck from Cordero.

IslandRed
07-14-2011, 10:08 AM
I think closers are a lot like NFL placekickers. It's easy to argue that they're not hard to find; there's no need to spend a lot on one; if not chosen wisely, he has the capacity to drag the team down faster than tying a concrete block to a rubber duck, and the season may be shot before the bleeding stops.

RedsManRick
07-14-2011, 01:12 PM
I think closers are a lot like NFL placekickers. It's easy to argue that they're not hard to find; there's no need to spend a lot on one; if not chosen wisely, he has the capacity to drag the team down faster than tying a concrete block to a rubber duck, and the season may be shot before the bleeding stops.

I think that's a pretty good analogy. But like placekickers, you'd be nuts to pay even a good one as much as you can afford to pay your QB, RB, or star WR. Even a very good closer is still just a very good role player.

What I'd give for the common, non-stats inclined fan, to consider marginal value on a more frequent basis.

Reds1
07-14-2011, 03:15 PM
I agree totally. Paying any relief pitcher that kind of money hurts the overall squad. That extra money needs to go to starting pitching. LOok at every team that does well in the post season and it's pitching. Right now we have 1 guy we can really depend on in the starting staff. Hopefully we'lll add more.

IslandRed
07-14-2011, 05:28 PM
I think that's a pretty good analogy. But like placekickers, you'd be nuts to pay even a good one as much as you can afford to pay your QB, RB, or star WR. Even a very good closer is still just a very good role player.

What I'd give for the common, non-stats inclined fan, to consider marginal value on a more frequent basis.

Yep. As a rule, I don't think paying the premium to go from "good" to "very good" is worth it by any stretch. But just like with placekickers, there is a disproportionately high amount of damage to the won-lost record that can happen by dropping from "good" to "not good" at that one spot. In the end, I think that's a primary dynamic that causes some GMs to overpay for so-called proven closers (and kickers) as opposed to chancing the "let's see who sticks against the wall" method. Predictability of performance can be an illusion, but it's a comforting illusion while it lasts.

The other dynamic, the one that only certain teams can afford, is the belief the club is going to be playing postseason games and it matters whether they're handing the ball to a 90% guy or a 80% guy.

RedsManRick
07-14-2011, 06:13 PM
Yep. As a rule, I don't think paying the premium to go from "good" to "very good" is worth it by any stretch. But just like with placekickers, there is a disproportionately high amount of damage to the won-lost record that can happen by dropping from "good" to "not good" at that one spot. In the end, I think that's a primary dynamic that causes some GMs to overpay for so-called proven closers (and kickers) as opposed to chancing the "let's see who sticks against the wall" method. Predictability of performance can be an illusion, but it's a comforting illusion while it lasts.

The other dynamic, the one that only certain teams can afford, is the belief the club is going to be playing postseason games and it matters whether they're handing the ball to a 90% guy or a 80% guy.

Yup, they keep talking themselves in to the idea (or giving in to managers/owners who believe) that it's something that can control.

I actually buy in to the playoffs argument -- when you know you're only likely to use 7 or 8 guys, you want them to be the best. But I would say that the only teams who are able to think that way are the ones who probably don't have to worry too much about paying a reliever 8 figures in the first place.

Some interesting numbers: Teams currently in playoff position with their overall salary, closer's salary and the percent it representsThere were 3 teams who were seen as virtual playoff locks this year, here are their respective payrolls and what they're paying the guy they expected to close games:

Red Sox: $163,822,475 | $12,000,000 (Papelbon) - 7.3%
Yankees: $207,047,964 | $15,000,000 (Rivera) - 7.2%
Tigers: $106,953,000 | $7,000,000 (Valverde) - 6.5%
Rangers: $ 92,124,290 | $457,160 (Feliz)- 0.5%

Phillies: $165,976,381 | $12,000,000 (Wagner) - 7.2%
Braves: $91,044,524 | $419,000 (Kimbrel) - 0.5%
Brewers: $83,590,833 | $442,500 (Axford) - 0.5%
Cardinals: $109,048,000 | $3,250,000 (Franklin) - 3.0%
Giants: $118,198,333 | $6,500,000 (Wilson) - 5.5%

Reds:$80,826,667 | $12,000,000 - 14.8%

We have less than 50% of the payroll of the Red Sox and Phillies and are playing our closer the same amount. The Cordero contract was insanely stupid at the time and looks all the worse in retrospect. It's one thing to pay one of the best relievers in the history of baseball 7% of your payroll. It's another to pay a run of the mill "good" reliever nearly 15% of it. You simply cannot pay that much marginal money to a guy who has so little marginal impact.