Mets360 MLB Project review and team capsules

The team at Mets360 along with assorted friends inside and outside of baseball took on the roles of all 30 MLB general managers. The idea, conduct the entire offseason in a week. This ended up a massive undertaking and if I had a dollar for every email, text and IM on this project alone, I’d have a down payment for a new car.

For this project, we tackled arbitration, free agent signings and trades. Each team was given a budget and the goal was to produce a 25-man roster for Opening Day. After all 30 owners were in place, we started with some basic rules. Teams had a week to familiarize themselves with their teams and to test the rules to see what needed tweaking. And boy was there tweaking.

The biggest headache was arbitration. In an ideal world, we would have waited until all of the forecasts from other sources like MLB Trade Rumors were available. But last year those were not available until early November and the goal was for us to be done before the conclusion of the World Series. If a mulligan was available, we would have delayed the project.

In consultation with ZiPS creator Dan Szymborski, the arbitration formula was set to tie payouts to fWAR dollar values. A player going through their first round of arbitration would receive a 35 percent raise, an ARB 2 guy would get a 55 percent bump and an ARB 3 player would pull in a 70 percent raise. As far as ballpark figures go, these weren’t bad, although we did find three problems. The system was off base for ARB 1 guys who had big years, it gave some big raises for ARB 2 and ARB 3 guys who came out of nowhere and it made no allowance for Super Two/ARB 4 guys.

We established caps, $5 million for an ARB 1 player, $10 million for an ARB 2 player and $15 million for ARB 3. We also determined an ARB 2 guy could not see a salary increase beyond four times his previous salary and an ARB 3 guy could not receive more than double his previous salary. ARB 4 guys followed the ARB 3 rules.

Anyone who had a positive dollar value got at least a 10 percent raise in arbitration, while players at zero or negative numbers kept their 2014 salary.

These on the fly tweaks worked well. That’s not to say that the end result was perfect, but nobody was penalized too harshly. Josh Donaldson, for example, didn’t get a $12 million salary as an ARB 1 guy and no middle reliever pulled in a 1,000 percent raise for a strong 50 innings.

Free agents were handled by a blind bid process. This was less than ideal, but with 30 people stretched out from New York to Los Angeles participating in their spare time with no compensation, it was the optimal solution. There were some salaries that are completely out of whack – Chris Davis was signed to a $1.1 million contract, but everyone in the project understands and accepts this and we hope you will too.

The other big issue was how to handle trades. Since more than a few owners have a fantasy background, the idea was to ensure that 20 different new guys did not wind up on every team’s roster. The solution was to impose a limit of three trades, since teams rarely make more than three deal between Nov. 1-Feb. 1. Of course, one owner pointed out last year’s Oakland A’s team, which executed six deals in this time frame. They are the exception that proves the rule, but with enough people lobbying for a change, the limit was pushed to four.

Below are the results of our simulation. Each owner was required to submit a 25-man roster with salaries and all were invited to write about their experience. Click on the team names to see the information they provided to me.

If we polled the 30 owners and asked them about the experience, the overwhelming, perhaps even unanimous, answer would be that this was fun. Hopefully, you’ll find it fun too. Keep that in mind and don’t nitpick everything to death.

This project was made with assumptions and rules that had no basis in reality. I blame no one for being turned off because of this. But after the amount of time I spent on this, I don’t want to hear anyone complain that this isn’t based in reality. There’s no need for anyone to play the Captain Obvious role. Please note that if you make one of those useless comments, I will delete it.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be critical. To me, the value comes in from what the owners viewed as the relative strengths and weaknesses of their teams and what actions they took. Criticize away for a team overvaluing a prospect it acquired in a trade. If a team plays in a park that kills right-handed power, feel free to point out how they overpaid in trade for a righty-power bat with no other skills whose value you believe will tumble. If a team’s top 10 prospects are all pitchers knocking on the door of the majors, blast the owner who acquired a SP5 and gave up something worthwhile.

I think there can be plenty of valuable discussion within the proper framework: Commend the guy who pulled off the great trade; criticize the guy who sold assets for 20 cents on the dollar; blast the guy who didn’t accurately gauge his farm system or future payroll or where they were in the success cycle. Please post your feedback here at the main page, rather than the individual team pages linked below. Rather than dividing the posts by team, we hope to maintain a lively discussion about the project with everyone.

Editor’s Note – This page will be updated as I receive more information from various owners.

Atlanta Braves – Scott Gilroy
Miami Marlins – Josh Lerner
New York Mets – Dan Kolton
Philadelphia Phillies – Will Morin
Washington Nationals – Julian McCarthy

Chicago Cubs
Cincinnati Reds
Milwaukee Brewers – Eric Stashin
Pittsburgh Pirates
St. Louis Cardinals

Arizona Diamondbacks
– Michael Geus
Colorado Rockies – Steve Parsons
Los Angeles Dodgers – Rob Reed
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants – Charlie Hangley

Baltimore Orioles – Tyler Slape
Boston Red Sox – Joe Barbieri
New York Yankees – Jonathan Joura
Tampa Bay Rays – Paul LaRocca
Toronto Blue Jays – Sean Flattery

Chicago White Sox – R.J. Lesch
Cleveland Indians – Brian Joura
Detroit Tigers – Jon Springer
Kansas City Royals – Dan Spiro
Minnesota Twins – Joe Vasile

Houston Astros – Brian Mullen
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland A’s – Scott Ferguson
Seattle Mariners – Mike Koehler
Texas Rangers – David Jordan

8 comments for “Mets360 MLB Project review and team capsules

  1. Name
    October 29, 2014 at 12:02 am

    “The solution was to impose a limit of three trades, since teams rarely make more than three deal between Nov. 1-Feb. 1”

    I actually took a look at this last offseason, and found that on average (last offseason notwithstanding), a team makes just (under) 1 trade that includes a significant player over the offseason.
    Of course, this would have taken the fun out of the project so i understand making the limit higher. 4 though, was probably excessive. If reality was a main objective, i would have lobbied for just 2.

    Just something to keep in mind if you ever do something like this in the future.

    • October 29, 2014 at 1:57 am

      When you’re limited to one crack at free agents, the extra flexibility of four trades was essential for some teams. I only completed one deal, but had plenty of potential trade partners once the fourth was announced…

  2. October 29, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Steve – I’d like to hear more about the Tulo deal. I know he’s got the injury issues but he’s so good when he plays, I think you could have gotten more for him. Did you shop him or were you thinking that you weren’t going to get a better offer than this?

    • Steve Parsons
      October 29, 2014 at 9:17 am

      Ah yes, the Tulo deal. Well, in fact you’re right. Although I did field several offers, it’s more than likely I could have gotten more.

      The moving parts here for me were first that with his salary where it was, $20 mil for Bobby Bonilla years he would have had limited real-life takers. Even if I could have, in theory, talked someone in this context into stripping themselves of the necessary payroll and not trying to make me take it back, mooting the whole thing.

      Secondly, injuries. I just want to emphasize this, he’s averaged less than 90 games the past three years and he’s only topped 122 games three of his eight seasons. His top fWAR is 5.9 in any season and he’ll be an “old” 30. Obviously that doesn’t mean that I couldn’t have found someone who had a different assessment of this risk and his potential production, but the risk of not being able to move him or the next point, told me to pull the trigger.

      Third, given our compressed timescale, I wanted to make sure I got it done and relatively close to the Carlos Gonzalez deal for fear that the Tulo price might lower the offer/market there. I accepted both of those deals at the same time, literally within seconds of each other.

      Fourth, the offense is now acceptable on the road. There are only a couple of guys there now that are Coors specialists (and I have bench guys for them). And even leaving in the inflated Coors numbers, the team I’ve constructed was about 15 points higher overall in OBP based on 2014 numbers and ought to be well above the NL average even on the road. OBP isn’t the be all and end all, but it’s important.

      Fifth, and maybe most important. I think there is a value in getting something done that works, even if it is theoretically possible to get more. The team, as now constructed, had the almost exact same fWAR in 2014 as the previous team (which I couldn’t have kept together anyway under the financial obligations it would have entailed), far less future financial ramifications and with a few players who **ought** to be a couple of fWAR higher – Miller, Pineda and perhaps Anderson and Lowrie. If so, and fully realizing WAR is a rough tool, the team has a WAR nearly what the Dodgers achieved. It looks even better under b-rWAR which truly hated the Rockies pitching

      The thing that in retrospect I should have done was to at least take Gardner instead of Prado (I was given the choice) not just because of Taveras’ subsequent death, but that Prado is a terrible fit for what I have constructed. Arenado is playing third, and Prado is such a dreadful 2Ber at this point that I really can’t play him there regularly, so it means swapping him around and hiding him in the OF spelling the lefty hitting Blackmon and Dickerson.

      • October 29, 2014 at 10:18 am

        Thanks for the reply.

        What are your thoughts on the “Coors Field Hangover” and its affect on hitters?

        I almost think the Rockies should model themselves after the 1985 Cardinals and look to field a team with as many SB threats that they can get. Punt power for contact and run whenever possible.

  3. Randall Cosentino
    October 29, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Great idea!

    Alex Rodriguez as a role model? Who will laugh harder fans or a judge?

  4. Jonathan
    October 29, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    I wish you had taken Gardner instead of Prado as well. If I knew of the Arod offer at the time, Prado would have been off the table. That said, Gardner seemed to fall in love with his power stroke last year and strayed from his usual approach of beating out ground balls. The temptation of Coors field would probably make him stray further from his speed game.

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