Monday, December 26, 2011

Guest Post - Worst Long Term Contract (7+ years)

Worst Long-Term MLB Contracts (7+ years)

In 2000, pitcher Mike Hampton signed an 8 year $121 million deal with the Colorado Rockies. This was the largest contract in sports history at the time. Hampton threw a disappointing 14-13 with a 5.12 ERA in 2001, and the following season pitched a disastrous 7-15 with a 6.15 ERA. Hampton was traded to the Florida Marlins only two years into his contract and the Rockies ate millions of dollars in losses. The Marlins in return traded Hampton to the Atlanta Braves where he threw two average seasons before suffering a major elbow injury. Due to injuries, Hampton sat out nearly three seasons before making a return in 2008. He was soon injured again, however, and finished 3-4 with a 4.85 ERA.

A special mention goes to pitcher Denny Neagle who signed a 5 year $51 million contract with the Colorado Rockies alongside Mike Hampton in 2000. Neagle went 19-23 with a 6.61 ERA in three seasons before succumbing to injuries and missing the 2004 season. The Rockies were fortunate enough to void the last year of his contract under morality clauses after he was caught soliciting a prostitute for oral sex.

The only three certainties in life are death, taxes, and bad investments from the Chicago Cubs. But perhaps none is worse than the 8 year $136 million contract signed by Alfonso (“Albozo”) Soriano in 2007. This was the largest contract in Cubs history and contained a no-trade clause (meaning Soriano cannot be traded without his consent). Needless to say, his performance since 2007 has been mediocre at best. He led the Cubs with 130 strikeouts during his first season and digressed to a personal worst .241 batting average in 2009. Soriano is notorious for his lack of clutch hitting with runners in scoring position and unsuccessful hacks at sliders low and outside.

Jason Giambi signed a 7 year $120 million contract with the New York Yankees in 2001. By 2003, Giambi had led the league in strikeouts and had a .250 batting average. He finished 2004 with a .208 batting average and 12 home runs. While he experienced resurgence in 2005 and 2006, his numbers dropped significantly in 2007 after suffering a foot injury (.236 batting average, 39 RBI’s, 14 home runs). The Yankees declined to extend Giambi’s contract after expiration and was signed by the Oakland Athletics. The Athletics subsequently released him and he was picked up by the Colorado Rockies.

A special mention goes to Alex Rodriquez (“A-Rod”) who signed a 10 year $275 million contract with the New York Yankees. This contract was the most lucrative contract in sports history. It is highly debatable whether A-Rod’s contract is one of the worst in MLB history because he did put up good numbers for the most part. Rather, he was known particularly for sub-par postseason performances and inability to hit in “clutch” situations. He developed the nickname “The Cooler” for the tendency of teams to turn cold when he became part of the team. Teammates also used to call him “A-Fraud” for an apparent prissy and needy attitude.

This is a guest post written by Jeff Herbst. Jeff has had a passion for sports ever since he could first walk and enjoys writing in his spare time. He works with Phoenix Bats, a company that manufacturers wooden baseball bats and specialty custom wood bats for amateur and professional ball players.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gio Gonzalez

15+ Wins, 7.5+ SO/9, .570 W-L%, 3.25 ERA or less (LHP, Multiple seasons throuby age 26, since 1900)
1975-77 Frank Tanana
2010-11 Gio Gonzalez
1955-56 Herb Score
2004-05 Johan Santana

Gio Gonzalez, who was recently aquired by the Nationals from the A's, is clearly a talented young pitcher.  This indicates that he's even more special than I had realized.  The Nationals had to give up a lot to get him, but it will be worth it if he keeps producing like he has the last few years.  If he had pitched the same on the Rangers or Yankees or Tigers, he might have won 20 games each year. 

Which right handed pitchers have had multiple seasons like that before age 26? Roger Clemens, Jim Maloney, Tim Lincecum, Jake Peavy, Pedro Martinez, Dwight Gooden, Tom Seaver, Fergie Jenkins, Denny McLain.  If Gonzalez performs like he's capable, the Nationals could be a scary team in 2012.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Why can't Cole Hamels win more than 15 games?

31+ Starts, 15 wins or fewer, 3.10 ERA or lower, W-L% .580+ (2+ seasons, since 1900)
Bert Blyleven (1975, 78)
Jose Rijo (1992-93)
Tom Glavine (1996-97)
Kevin Brown (2000, 03)
Cole Hamels (2008, 11)

Cole Hamels is having an excellent career and is considered one of the best young pitchers in the game.  He is one of only 3 pitchers under 30 (and 6 overall) who has an ERA under 3.40 and 180 career starts (the other pitchers under 30 are Felix Hernandez and Matt Cain; pitchers over 30 are Roy Halladay, Johan Santana and Roy Oswalt).  He has won a LCS and WS MVP and came in 5 in Cy Young voting this year.

The only problem is that he hasn't won over 15 games in a season despite having a low ERA almost every year and routinely starting over 30 games.  He pitches for a team that has won 5 consecutive division titles.

What's the problem?  One issue is that he doesn't get enough decisions.  It's tough to win over 15 games when you are averaging about 23 decisions a year.  In contrast, Roy Halladay has been averaging nearly 29 decisions a year. 

In 2010, they both had 33 starts, but Halladay had over 40 more innings, and 8 more decisions (and 9 more wins).  In 2010, Hamels had a solid 33 starts (only a handful of pitchers went over 33), but finished 30th in innings pitched.  He did better in 2011, with 8 more innings despite 2 fewer starts.

If Hamels stays healthy, he appears ready to have his best season yet.  Last year was his best year for ERA, WHIP, SO/BB, H/9 and BB/9, and 2012 should be his best for wins.
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