Tuesday, December 3, 2013
CAIRO hates the Jacoby Ellsbury Contract
My first thought when I saw that the Yankees signed Jacoby Smellsbury was that it was almost certain to be a bad move. But I’ve felt for a while that whomever signed Smellsbury would regret it, because he has had problems staying healthy, and teams will be wish-casting on his MVP level performance in 2011. Of course, we have 2400+ other PA where he’s never approached anything close to that.
Anyway, after looking at his CAIRO projection for this year and for the next seven years, I’m even more convinced this contract is bad one. But don’t take my word for it, here are the numbers.
Strictly going by hitting and stolen bases, Smellsbury projects to be worth about 2.5 wins above a replacement level CF in 2014. He projects to be somewhere around a +4 defender, and we can maybe give him another run or two for non-SB base running.
Now obviously, if he could hit that 65% or 80% forecast we’d love this contract, but that’s not the baseline for a reason, because it’s just not that likely.
So if you have a player who’s 30 and he’s signed for 7 years and you’re paying him an average of $22M per year, how much does he have to be worth to justify it? Only the team really knows that, but let’s look at how CAIRO projects his next seven season.
Yeah. Even if you want to assume he will continue to provide +5 defense for all seven seasons, he’s doesn’t project to be worth more than 17 wins or so. So the Yankees would be paying about $9M per win in a league that pays between $5M-$6M on the free agent market.
The key number in all these projections is plate appearances. Because he has missed significant parts of the season over the time that is in his projection, he only projects to have 526 PA in 2014 and it only goes down from there. If he can give the Yankees 650 PA in 2014, we can up his overall projected oWAR to 16.5. It’s still a crappy deal, but a bit less so. 650 PA at his 65% forecast in 2014 and now we’re looking at 22.2 WAR and yeah, it’s still a crappy deal.
This deal has all the earmarks of a deal that was not made by a baseball person, rather by a person who thinks signing a big name and making a splash will put asses in the seats. Guess what, you do that by putting a better team on the field than you put out there last year.
Smellsbury is not a bad player, and he should be an asset on the field. But he’s not nearly the player that Robinson Cano is, and won’t make nearly the difference to this team’s fortunes that Cano would. How do you tell Cano you won’t give him 8 years and $200M when you are willing to give a player that’s half as valuable as he is 7 years and $153M? And if signing Smellsbury means Cano is playing elsewhere in 2014, this team will be lucky to finish .500.
You also have to think this means the end of Brett Gardner’s days in pinstripes is close, if not before this season then almost surely after it, and I’m bummed about that.
Just like with the McCann signing, I’m reserving judgement on this move until I see what else they do. But unlike the McCann move which I liked in a vacuum, in a different vacuum I think this move was stupid.