Friday, October 30, 2015

Toronto Blue Jays: Anthopoulos fans + Toronto media vs. Shapiro

Official Godiva toy boy and forever fiance Archibald is despondent about his beloved Toronto Blue Jays firing General Manager (GM) Alex Anthopoulos (AA) by offering him a new contract without giving him the upper hand over new President Mark Shapiro on player moves. In a Godfather ju-jitsu move, the Jays made AA an offer he could refuse.

Get a grip, Archibald. Genius AA compiled a record of 489 wins and 483 losses over the 6 years that he was in charge of the Jays from 2010 through 2015. The Jays made the play-offs once and won 1 series only to lose in the semi-finals.

Over the same period while Shapiro was running the show in Cleveland the Indians' record was worse at 475-496 with one play-off appearance as wild card match loser. 

But, let's take a closer look. Over that period, Shapiro in small-market Cleveland spent $72.5 million/year on average on player salaries vs. $95.6 million/year that AA spent on Blue Jay players. 

In other words, AA spent $23 million more each year than Shapiro to get an additional 2.3 wins/year on average in the regular season and almost one more win/year in the play-offs. (Of course, you could argue that the real difference between the Jays and Indians was greater than 2.3 wins/year because the Jays play in the tougher American League East. But, I doubt that a schedule adjustment would be that significant. It would still look like AA spending $23 million/year for not many more wins.) 

Let's see what Shapiro and his team can do with the Blue Jay budget that team owners Rogers Communications will give him. Of course, with the Canadian dollar now back to normal levels, the Blue Jay budget may get tight and Shapiro will have to be at his analytical best to squeeze wins out of the ageing roster that he has inherited from AA. Shapiro's in a no-win situation for the 2016 season. If the Jays do well, the fans will credit AA. And, if the Jays do poorly, the fans will blame Shapiro.

AA will get another GM job. I will track the AA vs. Shapiro contest by looking at both total wins and losses as well as total spending over the rest of their careers. I am willing to wager that Shapiro's future career will be better than AA's.

David Price 

Blue Jay diehards and AA loyalists believe that AA would have signed David Price. Just for fun, let's keep track of Price's Red Sox career over his 2016-22 contract vs. what Shapiro does each year with the $30 million/year that he redeployed rather than pay Price's price. 

Shapiro signed JA Happ at $10 million in 2016 to effectively replace Price in the starting rotation. He ended up paying an extra $2 million by trading Liam Hendriks to get Jesse Chavez and another $2 million for Franklin Morales as well as $4.5 million when he traded for Nelson Liriano at mid-season plus $0.6 million to Jason Grilli and $0.5 million picking up Joe Biaginni plus $2 million by trading Ben Revere for what turned out to be a combined year from Drew Storen and Joaquin Benoit plus $1 million for Gavin Floyd. In other words, Shapiro spent $24 million on Happ and a grab bag of spare arms hoping to strike gold.

Contrary to popular belief and a misplaced focus on his 3.99 earned run average (ERA), David Price remained one of the top pitchers in baseball in 2016 with 6.42 wins against replacement (WAR; source = 

Happ was lucky to go 20-4, but certainly outperformed expectations with a 2.14 WAR. Biaginni chipped in with 0.82, Grilli contributed 0.64, Liriano 0.9 in 1/3 of a season, Benoit/Storen 0.7 and  Chavez added 0.3 WAR. Unfortunately, Morales went -0.04 and Chavez was -1.1 below Hendriks. All told, Shapiro's loot bag of pitchers accounted for 4.4 WAR.

As I expected Price's 2016 WAR exceeded Shapiro's Happ + spare parts WARs. However, in 2022, the last year of Price's Red Sox contract, I certainly expect Shapiro to be spending that $30 million better than the Red Sox. And, the tipping point year when Price is worth less than how Shapiro spends $30 million on pitching should come well before 2022. 


Interesting article from the Nate Silver operation in which the author suggests that Ryan Goins over the first 1/3 of 2016 was a victim of bad luck who will bounce back to his 2015 level and that Russell Martin will bounce part of the way back while Michael Saunders will come back a bit to earth from hitting way above his career-based expectation.

In the meantime, misManager John Gibbons has benched Goins to ride the hot bat of Darwin Barney who has been hitting well above his career norms -- usually a sign of random good luck although the Jays do have a good track record of improving hitters who come to Toronto mid-career.
Postscript: Barney did indeed fall back to his career norm and finished 2016 with a 0.2 WAR. Goins remained ineffective on the few occasions when he had a chance to play and recorded a team-worst -0.9 WAR. 

NBA 2015-6 Recap ATS

I play in ex-Godiva toy boy Reginald's non-profit National Basketball Association (NBA) pool picking winners against the point spread (ATS). Heavy underdogs finished 62-50-1 or over 55% ATS for the regular season. 

Ride the heavy underdogs is my only advice to current Godiva toy boy and official Godiva fiance Archibald, who gets on so well with Reginald that he plays in all Reginald's pools. My advice follows academic studies showing that "heavy" NBA underdogs with more than 12 points have a statistically significant winning record over a long run of years. 

While this is true of regular season matches, I am less certain that the same result can be found in play-off matches. In Reginald's play-off ATS pool, I lost taking GS -5.5 over cleveland in game 7 and finished the play-offs 48-38: 44-34 "light" overdogs and 4-4 "heavy" underdogs.

Archibald was wrong sticking to his prediction after King James fired puppet Coach Blatt: "As a general manager, Lebron is a great player. Is he still glad that he traded Andrew Wiggins for KLove and then compounded the error by resigning KLove? Minnesota will win the NBA title before Cleveland does." I should say that Arch watches sports with his eyes and never consults analytics showing that KLove is the 3rd or 4th best power forward in the NBA. For me, a healthy Chris Bosh would be 3rd and KLove 4th behind Draymond Green 1st and Millsap 2nd. (Draymond was not looking like the best in the 1st 4 matches against OKC. Also, he's a dirty player. I was glad to see him suspended for game 5 of the finals.) Archibald maintains that his prediction was sound and that he could not have predicted that NBA MVP Stephen Curry and his mates would play so poorly and only score 13 points in the 4th quarter of game 7 and no points in the final 4 minutes.