The Prestige of Small Payroll Baseball – Tampa Bay Rays 2008-10

This is the 4th and final article in a series of articles examining how small payroll teams have found success in recent years.  The goal is to try and determine what methods were successful in an attempt for the Pirates to emulate them.  The Minnesota Twins were the first team studied, the Texas Rangers were the second team,  and the San Diego Padres were the third team, in case you want to see the methodology of these articles.

The Pledge

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays (as they were called in their formative years) started play in 1998 along with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  But unlike their expansion brother, the Devil Rays never tasted the sweet smell of success until 11 seasons into their history in 2008.  In fact, the Devil Rays were fairly embarrassing and incompetent on the field, acting more as a repository for aging and faded veterans…which fit in nicely with being in the retirement capital of the state of Florida.

The Devil Rays inaugural GM was the amazingly incompetent Chuck Lamar.  Lamar could never decide if the Devil Rays were to be built from the ground up with a youth movement (rushing BJ Upton and Dewon Brazelton) or be a team of gritty veterans (Wade Boggs, Gerald Williams, Greg Vaughn, Jose Canseco, Fred McGriff).  So he failed at all facets of the majors.  But Lamar was good at building a farm system.  The Devil Rays, due to habitually being at the top of the draft, were able to draft many of the pieces that helped fuel their recent run of success from 2008-2010.

The Turn

In October 2005, however, their fortunes changed when young hotshot investment banker Stuart Sternberg bought the team from the Vince Namoli ownership group.  Sternberg installed an even younger hotshot in Andrew Friedman to be his VP of Baseball Operations, essentially the General Manager.   Once Friedman arrived, all it took was a key trade and have two face-of-the-franchise players to fall into their lap in the draft.  No problem.

In 2007, the Devil Rays bumbled their way to another sub-70 win season at 66-96.  In fact, the Devil Rays from their inception in 1998 to 2007 only had one season of more than 69 wins (70 wins in 2004).  After the season, Sternberg decided to exorcise the demons from the team and drop the “Devil” from the team name and change the uniforms.  It was meant to make the team a little more fan friendly.  Either that or he’s a real hard-core atheist.

So in 2008, everyone expected the same old level of incompetence from the new-look Rays.  The only problem was that they went 97-65 (a 31 win improvement from the previous year) and went to the World Series.  And by the way, they did it on a payroll of $43.7 million, good for 29th out of 30 teams.  How did they do it?

The Prestige

In 2003, the Rays drafted Delmon Young first overall.  Young was a highly followed draft pick from the time he was a young teenager.  He and BJ Upton (drafted 2nd overall the year before) were going to be the cornerstones of the future Rays.  But Delmon Young had serious attitude problems and never quite developed as expected.  So in November 2007, Young was traded to the Minnesota Twins, along with Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie, for Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, and Eduardo Morlan.  In the first article of this series, I showed how by using WAR this trade was a complete slam-dunk for the Rays.

In the same year of 2007, the Rays (once again drafting 1st overall) took David Price with their pick.  Price barnstormed through the minors in his first full year of 2008 and was able to help the Rays down the stretch for their playoff run.  One year prior in 2006, the Rays had third baseman Evan Longoria fall into their laps as the 3rd overall pick.  Longoria arrived to stay in Tampa in late April 2008 and immediately signed the most team-friendly contract in all of baseball (6 years, $17.5M thru 2013 with club options from 2014-16).

The offense for the Rays in 2008 looked something like this (players 2008 season age in parentheses as well as method obtained):

Carlos Pena (30, FA in 2007) .247/.377/.494 (871 OPS, 129 OPS+)

Evan Longoria (22, draft 1st round 2006) .272/.343/.531 (874 OPS, 127 OPS+)

Cliff Floyd (35, FA in 2007) .268/.349/.455 (804 OPS, 111 OPS+)

BJ Upton (23, draft 1st round 2002) .273/.383/.401 (784 OPS, 108 OPS+)

The Rays also got a nice part-time contribution from Jason Bartlett (844 OPS, 120 OPS+ in 62 games).  Absent from this offensive stars list is Carl Crawford (26, draft 2nd round 1999), who had a down year in 2008.  He only put up a triple slash of .273/.319/.400 (719 OPS, 89 OPS+).

The pitching was an interesting mix of homegrown talents and players obtained in lopsided trades in the Rays’ favor.

James Shields (26, draft 16th round 2000) 14-8, 3.56 ERA, 215 IP, 208 H, 1.7 BB/9, 6.7 K/9

Andy Sonnanstine (25, draft 13th round 2004) 13-9, 4.38 ERA, 193 IP, 212 H, 1.7 BB/9, 5.8 K/9

Matt Garza (24, trade with MIN 2007) 11-9, 3.70 ERA, 184 IP, 170 H, 2.9 BB/9, 6.2 K/9

Edwin Jackson (24, trade with LAD 2006) 14-11, 4.42 ERA, 183 IP, 199 H, 3.8 BB/9, 5.3 K/9

Scott Kazmir (24, trade with NYM 2004) 12-8, 3.49 ERA, 152 IP, 123 H, 4.1 BB/9, 9.8 K/9

Kazmir, obtained in one of the all time lopsided trades from the New York Mets in a trade deadline panic move in 2004, provided the pizzazz to an otherwise workman-like rotation.  Veteran Troy Percival closed the door in the 9th inning with 28 saves.  The rest of the bullpen (JP Howell, Dan Wheeler, Grant Balfour, and Trevor Miller) all exceeded expectations for the Rays on the way to the World Series.  The Rays, as previously mentioned, broke future ace David Price in as a reliever during this stretch run.

In 2009, the Rays took a step backwards by finishing with an 84-78 record and in 3rd place in the highly competitive AL East.  Although the Rays scored more runs than in 2008, they also allowed more runs, especially from the bullpen.  The Rays did see Crawford return to form (816 OPS, 116 OPS+), but BJ Upton took his place in having a disappointing year (686 OPS, 82 OPS+).  Pena (893 OPS, 133 OPS+), Ben Zobrist (28, trade with HOU in 2006, 948 OPS, 149 OPS+), Bartlett (879 OPS, 132 OPS+), and Longoria (889 OPS, 133 OPS+) all had monster years with the stick.  The only glaring weakness was Dioner Navarro at catcher with a 583 OPS/54 OPS+.

David Price (23) moved into the rotation in 2009 and had a solid debut going 10-7, 4.42 ERA, 128 IP, 119 H, 3.8 BB/9, 7.2 K/9.  Price gave hints of what was to come in 2010.  The Rays always walk a tightrope with their finances, so they decided to cut bait with Scott Kazmir in July 2009 by sending him to the LA Angels of Anaheim.  They may have pulled the trigger at the perfect time, as Kazmir started developing a series of injuries that have hampered his performance ever since.

The 2010 season brought both a sense of renewed confidence and a sense of urgency.  The urgency stemmed from the fact that the Rays entered the 2010 season with a $72.8M payroll, placing them 21st out of 30 in Major League Baseball.  With key free agents such as Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford looming at the end of the year, many saw this as one last chance to take a run at the World Series.

The 2010 Rays scored nearly the same amount of runs (802) but allowed 105 runs less than the previous year (649 in 2010).  This allowed them to finish 96-66, good for 1st place in the AL East.  However, they were eliminated in the playoffs by the Rangers (also an article previously discussed in this series).  On offense, the Rays were led by the usual suspects again in the form of Longoria (24, 879 OPS, 142 OPS+) and Crawford (28, 851 OPS, 134 OPS+).  The Rays rectified the black hole at catcher by using John Jaso (26, draft 12th round 2003) and he rewarded them with a 750 OPS/110 OPS+.  Pena (32, 732 OPS, 102 OPS+) and BJ Upton (25, 745 OPS, 105 OPS+) made contributions, but not up to what the previous expectations of them were.

The pitching was now led by a rotation that was 4/5th’s homegrown:

David Price (24, draft 1st round 2007) 19-6, 2.72 ERA, 208 IP, 170 H, 3.4 BB/9, 8.1 K/9

James Shields (28, draft 16th round 2000) 13-15, 5.18 ERA, 203 IP, 246 H, 2.3 BB/9, 8.3 K/9

Jeff Niemann (27, draft 1st round 2004) 12-8, 4.39 ERA, 174 IP, 159 H, 3.1 BB/9, 6.8 K/9

Wade Davis (24, draft 3rd round 2004) 12-10, 4.07 ERA, 168 IP, 165 H, 3.3 BB/9, 6.1 K/9

Matt Garza (26, trade MIN 2007) 15-10, 3.91 ERA, 204 IP, 193 H, 2.8 BB/9, 6.6 K/9

In addition to having three pitchers go over 200 IP, the Rays also had a lock down bullpen that was led by Rafael Soriano (30, trade with ATL in Dec 2009) with his 1.73 ERA, 45 saves, and 8.2 K/9.

The Rays are the model on how all small payroll teams can succeed.  Their key players are homegrown, but they have also made some fortuitous trades (including knowing when to give up on previously identified assets like Young and Kazmir) and some key low-cost free agent pickups.  However, the Rays going into 2011 will also be facing the other side of the small payroll cycle – the need to reload after players leave your team as free agents for greener pastures.  Pena will be at 1B for the Cubs, Crawford signed a huge deal with the rival Red Sox, and Soriano will most definitely be pitching elsewhere.  Sternberg has said that the team payroll in 2011 will be in the low to mid $50M range, nearly $20M less than this year.

The good news is that even with all of the young talent that has percolated through the system in recent years, there is still more talent left in the minors, especially on the pitching side of things.  Jeremy Hellickson and Jacob McGee could both be key pieces in the next wave of potential Rays’ success.  With all of the free agent departures, especially free agents that are both Type A and B, the Rays will potentially have 11 picks either in the first round, the supplemental round, or the 2nd round.  2011 may be another step back type of year for the Rays, but sunshine days will soon return to Tampa.

Author: Kevin Creagh

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  • Kevin_Creagh

    Now that’s how you rebuild a team, Astros. The Astros in 2013 have NO payroll commitments to a player on their current roster. They have 500K for Snyder’s option that may not get picked up. They have the Wandy money to the Pirates. Not sure if Myers’ deal had cash.

    They scorched the earth in 1 complete year and are starting to replant the forest. They will absolutely suck for the next 2-3 years, but the talent accrual by Luhnow in the 2012 draft and in some of his trade deals has bolstered the farm.

  • TonyPenaforHOF

    I agree.

  • http://twitter.com/halvybuckets Halvy Buckets

    Disagree Tim. Grossman walks a lot, but he needs to be more aggressive at the plate, imo. He’s toolsy, but I see him more as a 4/5 outfielder on a good team.

    Owens is going to lefty, fly ball hell. I wish him well, but I don’t see it happening. His upside isn’t what Wandy is right now, or even as Wandy gets older.

    Keep in mind Wandy is having his lowest walk numbers of his career, so this would suggest a change in pitch strategy.

  • Dave Parker’s Unfiltered Camel

    With all do respect, I think you’re placing too much value on the prospects in this trade. Also, I don’t buy the comparison to Maholm. Yes, they are similar in style and both lefties, but Maholm lacks Wandy’s consistency, has even less velocity on his fastball, and typically fades in the latter part of the year.

    Bottom line: the Pirates get a proven, underrated pitcher without giving up their top prospects, and they are able to maintain some salary flexibility in the process.

    • krinks

      Right. Last night’s name by Maholm was typical. He can pitch a gem when he wants to, but doesn’t always want to. The rest of the time he will give up four if the club scores three.
      The better team factor should be considered also. Wandy knows by pitching a decent game he has a decent shot at a win and pitching a relevant game the rest of the year. He hasn’t pitched a relevant game in Houston for quite a while.
      It boils down to getting another AJ Burnett and JMac for free. The money they pay him next year is offset by what they won’t be paying Bedard and Corriea. The 5th starter spot can be covered by Justin Wilson or Jeff Locke who both have earned a shot on the big club. They can still flip one of them for a decent bat.

    • BarryJT

      I agree. This is not Moises Alou for Zane Smith.

      • Rick Peluso

        I agree, Grossman is the only tough loss in my opinion as Owens was clearly the least gifted of the Indy lefty trio and was expendable. Grossman even with his Youkilis like walk numbers was still facing A and AA pitching which tend to have higher walk ratios to begin with. I’d say going forward if he can maintain those numbers I start to like this trade less, but ultimately Grossman wasn’t the ideal answer for a third outfielder to fit with Marte and Cutch down the road as some still don’t even project him as a top 3 outfielder with his limited power albeit good OBP. To me Cain was a throw in for some money back in the deal and can be overlooked for the time being as he projects more as a reliever with his low starting velocity, 89-91, compared to what he’s hit in short spurts, as high as 94.

    • BlueBomber72

      You hit the nail on the head with Maholm’s lack of consistency. He puts it together for 5 or 6 starts, and then goes into a streak where he can’t get through 5 for 5 or 6 starts. Rodriguez is a quality start machine. Playing in front of the terrible defense in Houston couldn’t have been helping his numbers either ( 3rd to last in D efficiency and -35 Rtot).

  • Lee Young

    Having traveled a lot as a Navy Civilian your comment ” Unless you’re going to Jacksonville, but who goes there?” made me laugh. The ONLY ones who go there are the ones who HAVE to go there. Ugly town, imho.

  • Lee Young

    How will Wandy help the Bucs?….his numbers have also been close to what Correia gave us.
    STUPID STUPID DEAL

    • Thom Kay

      Wandy has been MUCH better than Correia. Higher K%, lower ERA, FIP, xFIP, and a 1.8 WAR to 0.1. Glad to have him.

      Still, I just know we’re gonna miss Grossman. Not happy to see him go one bit.

      • Lee Young

        Wandy (age 33). Last three starts — 15 IP, 12 ER
        Kevin (age 31). Last three starts — 17 IP, 8 ER

        Wandy, last six starts — 35 IP, 20 ER
        Kevin, last six starts — 33.1 IP, 15 ER

        Wandy has BEEN HORRIBLE!!! He is regressing! Grossman is a ‘gross’ overpay!

        • Lee Young

          other than that, I am somewhat neutral on this deal….lol

          I need to cool off a bit….lol

          • Lee Young

            I gave myself a minus for these comments….Bottom line is that Wandy is now a Pirate…time to root him on.

            Like someone above said…AJ turned out ok…

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Smalley/100001279428589 Andrew Smalley

          Your use of Small Samples to make a point makes your point very difficult to take serious……

          • Lee Young

            you’re prob right….at least I HOPE you’re right about Wandy….:)

        • Rick Peluso

          Pitcher A: last three starts 15.2 IP, 15 ER
          Pitcher A: last six starts 35.1 IP, 22 ER

          With your use of small sample sizes this pitcher would be “Horrible” even worse actually than Wandy. These are in fact JMac’s numbers however and I do not think you would make the statement that he has been awful.
          The point here is that a season is not always even and has ups and downs so pointing to small samples like you have is not the appropriate way to evaluate a pitcher’s season/value.

    • Todd Smith

      Wandy Rodriguez: 3.79 ERA, 2.78 SO/BB, 3.78 FIP, 1.27 WHIP
      AJ Burnett: 3.59 ERA, 2.62 SO/BB, 3.51 FIP, 1.29 WHIP
      Kevin Correia: 4.31 ERA, 1.64 SO/BB, 4.95 FIP, 1.29 WHIP

      I’d say he’s much closer to what Burnett has given us this year, but I guess people whined and cried about that trade too.

      • Lee Young

        prob more upset about losing Grossman…I hate it when I get upset.

        :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Smalley/100001279428589 Andrew Smalley

    I like the trade primarily because we dealt from a position of depth. In other words, we dealt a near-ready (if not ready) back-of-rotation SP, but we also have two SPs with similar value w/ a little better projection in the same rotation. Additionally, we traded an OF from a position that we have several other options of arguably similar value. Cutch and Marte seem to have CF/LF set, respectively, leaving one spot for another guy. Tabata/Presley/Grossman all offer you a little bit different of a package but all of similar or comparable value. And, Cain probably projects to be a Rudy Owens type w/ a tad higher ceiling but a less likelihood to reach it. All in all: these guys are replaceable, and, better yet, we already have the guys in the system to do it.

    If we had traded a guy like Hanson – at a position of no depth at SS – then this would have been problematic both in personnel (Hanson for Wandy is not an even trade for us) and from a position standpoint (no depth at SS). In this trade, we didn’t give up a clear impact player in personnel and we did it from our two positions of depth.

    Solid trade. An addition of a bat (Victorino/Pence/etc) is what we should be focused on now.

  • Todd Smith

    This is the kind of deal I love to see the Pirates make. Give away a handful of middling, low-impact prospects for a high tier player that can not only help us in the playoff push this year, but will be here for a couple of years after that as well. I have nothing to complain about with this trade.

  • ElGaupo77

    If you look at the 6.13 K/9 you must have notice his K/BB actually raised to 2.78… highest he’s had in 4-5 years. Also you noticed his spike in GB% up several percent to 50.7%.

    Finally, we’re placing a lot of stock in numbers based off 131 innings. With more games against the Astros and Cubs and facing September call ups his K/9 will get over 7.

  • cocktailsfor2

    You make a reasoned argument, Tim, but comparing the current salary for Maholm is skewed in that if they’d kept Paulie, it wouldn’t have been for $4.25MM this year.

    I also think that Wandy is more of a workhorse – in general, and moreso in August – than Maholm is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kirk.vandergrift Kirk Lee

    I think it’s a decent trade, not great, not terrible. They kept hold on the top 6, got a guy who’s style fits well in PNC, improved the team right now without simply buying a rental, and gave up a non-negligible amount of talent in return. The crux of this trade (aside from, obviously, Wandy) will be Grossman. I wouldn’t list him as a 51-100 hitting prospect, seeing as how no one has ever done that in the baseball world. Even if he did crack that range, it would be at the very tail end, making him worth less than the average 51-100 prospect’s $10.43MM (probably more like $8MM). He could be an everyday starting outfielder, in which case this comes out as a bad trade for the Bucs. But he won’t turn into a superstar, and even everyday starter is far from a guarantee. I guess we’ll know in 3 years or so.
    Owens is that solid, consistent (except last year), unexciting guy who you somehow like, and feel comfortable parting with at the same time. Cain just never broke out the way we (I, at least) hoped. Time is running out for that, IMO, with him never living up to his reported velocity.
    It’s funny. These are 3 of the guys who I have followed most closely, for the longest time, and who I really liked individually as prospects. I expected the Grossman breakout last year and was a huge fan when it happened. I was always a little impatient to see Owens make it to Pittsburgh. I always liked Cain the most of the 2009 Prep Pitchers. Yet, now that they’re all gone, I find myself strangely ok with it. None of them were going to be big pieces of the Pirates core going forward. They constituted the more exciting potential role players, but with guys like Cole and Taillon in the system, it’s hard to bat an eyelash at the loss of Colton Cain. These guys could all become serviceable starters with cost control, in which case, it becomes regrettable, not devastating. But there’s also a decent chance that none of them pan out at all, or have extremely mediocre big league careers. I don’t wish that on any of them, but with that in mind, you gotta think Wandy could be great pickup if it happened.

  • buccotime57

    Florida is great…the drive through gainesville to get to the tampa area is not…i agree that we spent to much.. i thought we could have used these chips for a hitter as opposed to getting another starting pitcher…i dont know why we dont give locke/wilson a shot…at least bring up wilson to be a lefty in the pen…watson has struggled

  • Joel Davis

    There seems to be some confusion regarding the amounts being paid by Pirates/Houston. It looks to me like Houston is paying 1.7, 8.5, 7.5. See MLBtraderumors and espn article. This makes a big difference in trade value!

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      They’ve got the amounts flipped. That’s what the Pirates are paying.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eric.delp.3 Eric Delp

    Tim, you are vastly overrating the prospects here, and vastly underrating Wandy. Grossman is not a top 100 prospect. Not only was he not in BA’s top 100 over the offseason, he was behind both McPherson and Sanchez, neither of whom were in the top 100 either, and he’s done nothing to raise his stock this year. I realize that KLaw and Goldstein ranked him in their top 100s, but none of the prospect value studies done have used KLaw or Goldstein’s top 100s as their data sets. The only prospect value we can really put on Grossman is the $5.5M for being a Grade B hitter according to Sickels. So roughly half the value you are giving him here.

    Furthermore, Sickels gave Owens a C+ last offseason, not a B. Owens has certainly raised his stock some, but the persistent questions about his stuff combined with his mediocre K rates probably keep him from a B grade. That makes him worth $1.5M, not $7.3M. Even if you want to split the difference, you’re giving him too much credit.

    Overall, the prospect package we gave up is worth more like $9M than $19M. Even if you want to give Grossman and Owens some extra credit (which you obviously do), I don’t think it’s accurate to literally double their value.

    Conversely, you do Wandy a disservice by comparing him to Maholm. He’s posted consistently better results in a far less favorable stadium. Even limiting ourselves to this year’s results (which is not a good analytical model), you yourself point out that Wandy is striking out more batters, walking fewer, and getting more groundballs. Sure, the margins of difference are slim, but it adds up to a 6% difference in xFIP relative to average. Which is the same as the career difference between the two pitchers in both ERA- and xFIP-. Six percent may not sound like a lot, but it’s pretty huge – roughly 0.25 runs per 9 innings. On top of that, Wandy is more durable than Maholm. He started at least 30 games and pitched at least 6 IP per start in every year from 2009-2011, and he’s on pace to do it again this season. Maholm is very durable in his own right, but he failed to make 30 starts last year and has pitched 6 IP per start in only one of the last three seasons. WAR reflects these differences: according to fangraphs, Wandy has been worth 1.4 more wins than Maholm over the past three seasons. If you use B-Ref instead, the difference improves to 2.6 wins.

    There are certainly some concerns in Wandy’s profile – his age, his declining K rate, his general lack of dominance – and those would make for an interesting discussion, but trying to compare him to Paul Maholm is not an interesting discussion. He’s clearly much better.

    In conclusion, I respectfully submit that your analysis is extremely flawed here. For reasons already mentioned, you’re obviously overrating the prospects the Pirates gave up and underrating the player they got back.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com Tim Williams

      I appreciate your thoughts on this. It all boils down to a difference in opinion. My grades on Grossman weren’t based on pre-season, but my projection of him now. Same with Owens and Cain. So talking about what he was pre-season is irrelevant. We’d just have to agree to disagree.

      Also, I think Wandy is good. But I think he’s become a pitcher that is easier to acquire with the lower K rates. And the lower K rates, plus his age, concerns me going forward.

      • http://www.facebook.com/eric.delp.3 Eric Delp

        I understand that you were using your own opinion of the prospects in question. But you can’t apply prospect values based on Baseball America’s (or John Sickels’s) opinions to your own opinions. There aren’t any studies showing that top 51-100 hitting prospects on your list are worth $10.4M. (Not to mention that you’ve routinely said that you don’t follow other teams’ farm systems all that closely, making your top 100 ranking pretty arbitrary and unhelpful.) Preseason grades are relevant because we don’t have any more current information from BA or Sickels from which to derive prospect values. So it’s not just a difference of opinion here; there’s also a fundamental flaw in your analysis.

        That said, what you’re article essentially shows is that even if you’re optimistic about the prospects involved, the values on each side more or less match up. So I don’t see any reason not to like the deal. You can worry all you want about Wandy, but you should spend an equal amount of effort worrying about all of the many ways in which Grossman, Owens, and Cain might not ever become good major leaguers.

        I’m interested in your take on the deal, but I don’t see much logic to the argument you’ve presented in this article.

  • szielinski

    You forgot to include the fact that this trade occurred in a seller’s market.

  • st1300b

    Just to join in, the trade will play itself out like all other trades and rating it will come at a later date.
    I will however say that I think getting another proven vet, southy, SP for this season is hard to argue with – and to give him the opportunity to make a push along with this team for playoff baseball is exactly the kind of opportunity those vet’s like. I expect a real strong second half from Wandy.
    By the way, I really appreciate the fact that we don’t have to come up with a *-Rod monniker for him too!

  • Mark Ludwig

    If one buy’s into the drop in his K-rate this year, then I agree that Wandy carries some risk. However, I don’t think it’s fair to make it seem like it’s a trend that’s been going on since 2010. Do you know the difference between Wandy’s 2010 K rate and his 2011 K rate? It’s 8 strikeouts. Eight strikeouts in 30 starts and 191 innings pitched. It’s really tough to say that’s anything meaningful. This seasons drop is meaningful but since the velocity is the same and his curve still looks great, it strikes me more as a change in approach (and maybe not a good one) that leads to the change in his K rate.

  • http://twitter.com/mjdouble Marcus J

    I expected given the prospect package the Bucs were giving up that the Astros would have been kicking in more than $12 million on the contract. I don’t love the deal but I don’t hate it either. My biggest concern is the opportunity cost. With Wandy and AJ Burnett costing the Bucs in excess of $16 million next season what kind of controllable position player can the Pirates afford?

  • Joel Miller

    Addressing the trade and more specifically Wandy vs. Maholm using my favored simple metric for pitchers, FIP. Wandy has been the better pitcher this year with a 3.82 FIP vs. Maholm’s 3.98. Past 4 seasons? Still Wandy 3.71 vs. 3.89.More importantly, Kevin Correia has an abyssmal FIP of 4.98 after a season where he had a 4.99 FIP. Correia’s best recent FIP is 2009 at 3.76 in 33 starts.

    The rest of the rotation: McDonald: 3.60, Burnett: 3.55, Bedard 3.83, Karstens: 2.72.

    For reference, a pitcher with a 4.99 FIP with an average defense is expected to give up an average of 5.4 Runs/9 IP. Wandy should give up an average of 4.15 Runs/9 IP. Basically, I can sum up my comments as follows:
    Wandy > Maholm > Correia
    Correia has been exceptionally lucky this year with a 4.24 ERA against an expected 4.98. Bedard has been unlucky with an ERA of 4.32 vs. an expected ERA of 3.83. McDonald is probably still the best pitcher in the rotation despite a couple bad starts recently.