Are Baseball Executives Really That Much Smarter?

Pelfrey

Having satellite radio in your car is dream come true for avid baseball fans. Not only is the MLB Channel available to you 24 hours a day, those of us who participate in Fantasy Sports also have a channel devoted to our hobby. However, there is an additional perk and that is having multiple channels broadcasting the play-by-play of major league games.

 

These broadcasts are not any kind of a national feed, they are the announcers from one of the teams playing the game…usually the home team. Admittedly, I consider myself spoiled, having spent most of my baseball life listening to the likes of Curt Gowdy, Vin Scully & Dick Enberg on the radio. They were the cream of the crop and have never been described as “Homers”. That’s not to say today’s broadcasters aren’t talented, but rooting for the home team is an accepted practice, especially considering that their paycheck has the team logo imprinted next to the dollar figure.

 

While listening to a Tigers broadcast last week, the two announcers in the booth were talking about Pitcher Mike Pelfrey and that he will be getting back on track as soon as he starts commanding his sinker. They also said he was a really hard worker and a great guy in the clubhouse. This type of banter always reminds me why so many of us play Fantasy Baseball…because we think we’re smarter than real-world baseball executives.

 

Mike Pelfrey may in fact be a great guy, but he’s a lousy major-league pitcher. He’s pitched for parts of ten seasons in the big leagues and had a lifetime record of 61-81 going into 2016. If you believe that his record was tied to bad luck, his lifetime ERA was 4.52. The last time he had a decent season (15-9) was 2010! Despite these numbers, the Tigers signed him to a two-year contract this past off-season for $16 Million.

 

Fantasy players have been avoiding Pelfrey for years. The Fantasy magazine that includes my contributions each season didn’t even give him a positive dollar value. At the Draft of my AL-only league (which is very deep), he wasn’t even drafted! Yet, the Tigers were counting on him as part of their rotation. So far, in six starts, he is 0-4 with a 6.23 ERA and a 1.95 WHIP. And, there are no silver linings in the peripheral numbers of 15 K’s & 15 BB in 30 innings.

 

During the same week, Orioles GM Dan Duquette was being interviewed on the Fantasy Channel and the subject was Yovani Gallardo, who is on the DL after four starts with a 7.00 ERA. The GM indicated that the injury wasn’t anything serious and was probably due to Gallardo signing late and trying to ramp up for the season. Well, the reason he signed late is because nobody seemed to want him and even the Orioles withdrew their initial offer due to concerns about his arm. Eventually, they lowered their offer to “only” $22 Million for two years. Here’s what I wrote about Gallardo last November (published in February)…”Turned down a $15.8 Million qualifying offer because some team will give him even more…don’t let it be yours. His 2015 numbers were smoke & mirrors…struck out 200+ from 2009-2012, but only 121 last season. His soft contact rate (15.4%) was in the worst 20 of starting pitchers”. Two other contributors to the magazine also “panned” him and there were no positive comments. His Fantasy value was listed as $3. The Orioles were also guilty of giving a 4-year, $50 Million deal to Ubaldo Jimenez in 2014 and through 63 starts. he’s 20-22 with a 4.41 ERA. Even Theo Epstein, the architect of the Cubs current resurgence, signed Edwin Jackson to a 4-year, $50 Million deal in 2013. In three seasons, Jackson had a record of 16-34 with a 5.36 ERA and this year, the Cubs are paying him $12.5 Million to pitch for another team. No Fantasy player worth their salt ever went near this player.

 

You can certainly accuse me of “cherry-picking” and I make my share of mistakes…Derek Holland’s 11 earned run outing last week was part of my AL-only team’s stats. However, sometimes this stuff seems so obvious to those of us who study the numbers that we’re always amazed when front-office executives make questionable contract decisions.

 

Time to get back to the radio…”Put it on the board, YES!”

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