Paps and Carroll Sign


Before I begin analyzing these two signings, I just want to say that Wilson Ramos‘s rescue is easily the best news of the week in sports. Ramos is a promising young player, and I detailed his 2011 season in October. I can only imagine what was going through the minds of his family members, and the relief they must be feeling after this horrible incident. Although the likelihood of Ramos being seriously injured or killed was low, you can never tell in a kidnapping situation. Anyway, two other important events transpired in the MLB, and they were the signings of Jonathan Papelbon and Jamey Carroll.

Let’s take care of the less interesting signing first, and it involved Terry Ryan’s first move in his second stint as the Twins’ GM. The Twins gave utility infielder Jamey Carroll a very inexpensive deal worth seven million over two years. Although he is a decent offensive player (104 wRC+) who provides value on the bases, asking him to be your everyday shortstop isn’t the greatest thing for a groundball staff. Carroll is one of the worst defensive shortstops in baseball, even though he may be a productive hitter- to a certain degree. This lack of defensive ability doesn’t bode well for an already subpar pitching staff. The good news is that Carroll is a patient hitter who makes contact (.359 OBP) and is an upgrade over what they had. However, Carroll has absolutely no power, and this shows in his 104 wRC+ that would certainly be higher- he’s a shortstop who gets on base- if his ISO was at least .100.

Using a simple Marcel System projection, his expected 2012 WAR is 2.2, and this the same as his 2011 WAR. His market value is a little under ten million per season, which means that the Twins got a bargain at 3.5 million dollars per season. Although he considerably weakens their defense (-5 DRS in 2011 at shortstop), he does have positional flexibility and is a relatively productive offensive piece for a team that isn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut. Carroll can’t play at second base either (-9 DRS) so his positional value isn’t value per se as it is flexibility. This basically means that he can spell players who need a rest at various positions, but he won’t play any of them well (at all, I might add). But at 38, our projection of a 2.2 WAR seems too nice. If we go by regression, he should post a 2 WAR season and a 1.6 WAR season. This gives him an approximate value of 15 million over those two seasons, so he should comfortably outperform his contract. Carroll is consistently league-average, so there shouldn’t really be a disastrous decline.

Wikimedia Commons-Cbl62

Of course, the more interesting move involves one of the best closers in the Majors. The keyword, however, isn’t “best”; it’s “closers”. The Philadelphia Phillies decided not to re-sign Ryan Madson- or so we theorize- and have chosen to overpay Jonathan Papelbon. My harsh word choice is understandable to most, because giving any reliever a four year contract worth 50 million is far too risky and far too much money. However, Papelbon is one of the few relievers out there who won’t make this contract look risky. However, I find it extremely difficult to believe that Papelbon ends up being worth 50 million over four seasons- and a suggested fifth, but we’ll ignore that for now.

So I will once again use a very simple Marcel projection to predict Papelbon’s 2012 value and go on from there. At the age of 30, it is reasonable to expect a decline of some sort once he hits 33 (the third year of his contract). I expect Paps to be worth about 2.3 WAR during the first two years of his contract, and then he will have a 1.5 and 1.2 WAR season during the last two years of his contract. I do expect a steep decline, but I want to note that relievers are inherently worth less than hitters due to the lack of innings they pitch. I just wanted to mention that, so nobody starts raging over why I have him posting around the same overall value as Jamey Carroll. However, the projected WAR totals are quite impressive for a reliever, and it’s no surprise given that Paps is one of the elite closers in the game.

There is always a huge risk in giving a 30 year old reliever a lucrative four year contract, and this risk is accounted for in my projections. Thus, Papelbon will be worth around 35 million over those four years, which means that it looks like the Phillies overpaid for him at first glance. The problem is that it is difficult to project Papelbon’s value, because he is one of those pitchers who could go out and have an incredible season (3 WAR in 2011) or a poor one by their standards (1.2 in 2010).

The Phillies were poised to overpay for Ryan Madson, as they were very close to giving him a four year deal worth 44 million. I would rather overpay for Jonathan Papelbon, because he is a safer player to bet on, and he is frankly a better closer. That’s not saying that this was a good deal by any measure, because I do have him underperforming his contract. There is a chance that this move makes me look stupid, and not the Phillies, but I would rather spend 50 million dollars on somebody who could help their subpar offense when it is all said and done. I get that they are in “win now” mode, but that’s not really a legitimate excuse for giving a reliever a four year contract. Obviously we have to wait and see, but I don’t know anybody who likes waiting four years to wait and see.

Wikimedia Commons-Waldo Jaquith on Flickr


Tags: Jamey Carroll Jonathan Papelbon Minnesota Twins Philadelphia Phillies Wilson Ramos

  • GrnKetchupMan10

    The Carroll signing is borderline baffling to me. He’s a quality player but as you pointed out expecting him to be an everyday infielder is not very smart. Perhaps there is something for the Twins on the horizon. He fits the mold of a “Twins” type player but his biggest asset seems to b versatility but since he is a bad defensive player I’m not sure his perceived versatility is an asset. I almost think they might have been better off looking at Yuniesky Betancourt (and trust me as a Mariners fan I am well aware of his short comings). Perhaps his swing happy approach scared off the Twins. But he seems to have more upside.

  • GrnKetchupMan10

    The Carroll signing is borderline baffling to me. He’s a quality player but as you pointed out expecting him to be an everyday infielder is not very smart. Perhaps there is something for the Twins on the horizon. He fits the mold of a “Twins” type player but his biggest asset seems to b versatility but since he is a bad defensive player I’m not sure his perceived versatility is an asset. I almost think they might have been better off looking at Yuniesky Betancourt (and trust me as a Mariners fan I am well aware of his short comings). Perhaps his swing happy approach scared off the Twins. But he seems to have more upside.

  • http://calltothepen.com/ SorianoJoe

    “Aware of his shortcomings” haha, nice one man, Thanks for commenting again, I always appreciate it, especially when it is somebody who has a great knowledge of the game. The Carroll signing wasn’t bad given the low investment, but his defense is a huge problem. Looking back, I think my projections might be a little too nice, because I didn’t take into account a full season of stinking it up at second. And oh by the way, the Twins pitchers induce far more grounders than those in LA. Carroll’s best asset is his ability to get on base, and that’s probably the most valuable thing there is. However, that is almost negated by his complete lack of power. Carroll is merely a league-average utility player who is probably in a worse situation than he was with the Dodgers. At 38, he is all downside at this point. However, he should outperform the peanuts he was given (Willie Bloomquist made almost as much as him on a per year basis) and I would also be interested in hearing your thoughts on the Papelbon signing. As for Yuniesky Betancourt, don’t blame Elias for his certainly- definitely not borderline- baffling Type B Free Agent casting. The league actually gave Elias a model to designate Type A and B assignments, and the league certainly failed to miserably epic proportions in their model.

  • http://calltothepen.com/ SorianoJoe

    “Aware of his shortcomings” haha, nice one man, Thanks for commenting again, I always appreciate it, especially when it is somebody who has a great knowledge of the game. The Carroll signing wasn’t bad given the low investment, but his defense is a huge problem. Looking back, I think my projections might be a little too nice, because I didn’t take into account a full season of stinking it up at second. And oh by the way, the Twins pitchers induce far more grounders than those in LA. Carroll’s best asset is his ability to get on base, and that’s probably the most valuable thing there is. However, that is almost negated by his complete lack of power. Carroll is merely a league-average utility player who is probably in a worse situation than he was with the Dodgers. At 38, he is all downside at this point. However, he should outperform the peanuts he was given (Willie Bloomquist made almost as much as him on a per year basis) and I would also be interested in hearing your thoughts on the Papelbon signing. As for Yuniesky Betancourt, don’t blame Elias for his certainly- definitely not borderline- baffling Type B Free Agent casting. The league actually gave Elias a model to designate Type A and B assignments, and the league certainly failed to miserably epic proportions in their model.

  • Native Angeleno

    Your completely invented, with bad data, projections of Carroll being worth $15 mill over 2 years, or that he is worth the equivalent of Papelbon despite the latter’s potential for disintegration, is whacked. It’s not even Terran. It resembles no comparable baseball value for a poor D age 38 on this planet. It has nothing to do with any pay structure we have seen so far this century. If he’s worth that much. i’m worth at least $500g to a MLB team, and i’m 61. Truth is, Carroll is WOEFULLY overpaid at $7/2. That number is so high it forces the Twins to start him, which at 38 is a small train wreck waiting to happen once he’s injured, as he will be, due to exhaustion, because no backup is certainly worth that cost.

    You are way too much hung up on subjective formulaic guesses as “data”. That you believe in them so strongly that you would publish them without embarrassment is evidence you are walking around right now as naked as a jaybird while telling everyone your robe is ermine.

  • formatallan

    @Native Angeleno

    Wow Native Angeleno you must really dislike Jamey Carroll. do you dislike him that much? I admit that 15 mil is a bit much, but those are just projections. How do you know hell break down next year? everyone ages differently. He stayed healthy all of last year with the dodgers. The only injury he had was a bruised finger during spring training. He played in 146 games. He might not have the best defensive range, but hes a very good hitter. have you even watched him play at all? If you did you would know how productive he is. Any player who can get on base at the pace he does brings value to any lineup. Carroll is a table setter, a guy that will hit between .290-.300 and get on base alot. He never swings at the first pitch and always works counts.

    There is really no need for your abusive language. calm down on the judgements.

    good article Joe.

  • Native Angeleno

    Your completely invented, with bad data, projections of Carroll being worth $15 mill over 2 years, or that he is worth the equivalent of Papelbon despite the latter’s potential for disintegration, is whacked. It’s not even Terran. It resembles no comparable baseball value for a poor D age 38 on this planet. It has nothing to do with any pay structure we have seen so far this century. If he’s worth that much. i’m worth at least $500g to a MLB team, and i’m 61. Truth is, Carroll is WOEFULLY overpaid at $7/2. That number is so high it forces the Twins to start him, which at 38 is a small train wreck waiting to happen once he’s injured, as he will be, due to exhaustion, because no backup is certainly worth that cost.

    You are way too much hung up on subjective formulaic guesses as “data”. That you believe in them so strongly that you would publish them without embarrassment is evidence you are walking around right now as naked as a jaybird while telling everyone your robe is ermine.

  • formatallan

    @Native Angeleno

    Wow Native Angeleno you must really dislike Jamey Carroll. do you dislike him that much? I admit that 15 mil is a bit much, but those are just projections. How do you know hell break down next year? everyone ages differently. He stayed healthy all of last year with the dodgers. The only injury he had was a bruised finger during spring training. He played in 146 games. He might not have the best defensive range, but hes a very good hitter. have you even watched him play at all? If you did you would know how productive he is. Any player who can get on base at the pace he does brings value to any lineup. Carroll is a table setter, a guy that will hit between .290-.300 and get on base alot. He never swings at the first pitch and always works counts.

    There is really no need for your abusive language. calm down on the judgements.

    good article Joe.

  • http://calltothepen.com/ SorianoJoe

    Thanks formatallan. Anyway, the “projection” is basically his market value worth in WAR/$. I don’t believe a 2 WAR player is worth that much, but replacement level players such as Juan Rivera have made four million in free agency this season. Carroll’s deal was comparatively a steal, and the poor defense was addressed and thus makes him a “bad” fit for the Twins defense. I don’t think anybody can be “woefully” overpaid at 3.5 million dollars, because that’s replacement level value. As for him being “worth” the same as Papelbon, an everyday positional player’s value is worth the same as a reliever who pitches about 60 innings a year compared to 500 plate appearances or more. Papelbon is obviously better, but WAR is a counting statistic and not a rate statistic so a player who plays more has more value. Most back-ups (replacement players) are worth 3.5 million. Did you see the John McDonald and Willie Bloomquist contracts? Thanks again formatallan, an OBP over .350 is always a good addition.

  • http://calltothepen.com/ SorianoJoe

    Thanks formatallan. Anyway, the “projection” is basically his market value worth in WAR/$. I don’t believe a 2 WAR player is worth that much, but replacement level players such as Juan Rivera have made four million in free agency this season. Carroll’s deal was comparatively a steal, and the poor defense was addressed and thus makes him a “bad” fit for the Twins defense. I don’t think anybody can be “woefully” overpaid at 3.5 million dollars, because that’s replacement level value. As for him being “worth” the same as Papelbon, an everyday positional player’s value is worth the same as a reliever who pitches about 60 innings a year compared to 500 plate appearances or more. Papelbon is obviously better, but WAR is a counting statistic and not a rate statistic so a player who plays more has more value. Most back-ups (replacement players) are worth 3.5 million. Did you see the John McDonald and Willie Bloomquist contracts? Thanks again formatallan, an OBP over .350 is always a good addition.