January 08, 2018

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle:

A place to discuss the sports stories that aren't making news, share links that aren't quite front-page material, and diagram plays on your hand. Remember to count to five Mississippi before commenting in anger.

posted by huddle to general at 06:00 AM - 17 comments

Below is a list of big ($50+ million) free agent contracts signed and complete in the last 10 years. I excluded extensions and contracts that have not yet been completed. Each row contains the free agent, the signing team, the years of the contract, the contract details, the WAR accumulated in the contract years (regardless of whether the player was traded), the dollar value via FanGraphs based on that WAR total, and the difference between the contract cost and the WAR dollar value.

posted by Ufez Jones at 11:23 AM on January 08, 2018

I didn't even have to look at the list to know who was the best value of the past 10 years.

As for the worst, I thought it was going to be Carl Crawford, but I guess I forgot that the last place guy was a "free agent" and simply not an extension.

posted by grum@work at 01:07 PM on January 08, 2018

And to answer fatty's question from 2011: affirmative, sir.

posted by Ufez Jones at 01:39 PM on January 08, 2018

Forget Beltre's huge surplus, they Yankees paid $212.3M for 9 years and got $212.8M value out of him during that time. I don't care if that's amazing valuation, dumb luck, regression to the mean or what, that's incredible!

Disclaimer: I have no idea how to calculate WAR, and I only looked briefly at the dollar value link in the article. I'm just amazed by that level of precision over such a long contract. I'm even willing to ignore the fact that the Yankees had several entries on the list, and their only better result would still only rank as "accurate valuation."

posted by bender at 03:53 PM on January 08, 2018

And to answer fatty's question from 2011: affirmative, sir.

Can't argue with that. As a Red Sox fan I've come to recoil in horror from large free agent deals-- it's weird to see that John Lackey actually paid off. It offsets the Carl Crawford debacle a bit. Now we just need to offset the Pablo Sandoval debacle. And some of Hanley Ramirez. And Ivan Caulderon . . . Jack Clark . . . Andre Dawson . . .

posted by yerfatma at 04:44 PM on January 08, 2018

Be interesting to see the entire list of free agent values and would bet it would be heavily skewed towards the negative. Outside of maybe an absolute ace starter in his prime a free agent is really just an expensive way of plugging a hole created by a deficiency in an organization's development system.

posted by cixelsyd at 05:14 PM on January 08, 2018

The name Jack Clark triggers haunted house memories of Lou Gorman deals. They spent money in such an inept and strategically deficient way.

But fortunately, there was mirth amid the woe. The arrival of Danny Darwin was the source of a few memorable moments.

When the Red Sox signed Darwin, he was in his mid 30's and Gorman decided to pay him an annual salary almost 3 times what he had ever made before. By the time he came to Boston, he had already earned over 4.5 million dollars in his career. The Boston press asked him what it meant to him to suddenly have such a big increase in pay. Being from a small town in Texas up near the Oklahoma border, Darwin kept it homestyle. He said "now I can afford to help my folks add that second bathroom they've always wanted".

If you're from a place that's just south of the towns of White Shed and Telephone and you can't figure out how to put in a country bathroom on 4.5 million in gross earnings...you just could be Lou Gorman's kind of guy.

posted by beaverboard at 06:41 PM on January 08, 2018

Holy crap.

That Bama QB went from the goat of the game (losing 16 yards by not getting rid of the ball in the OT) to hero (with a perfect leading-the-receiver strike for the game winning TD) in 30 seconds.

posted by grum@work at 12:11 AM on January 09, 2018

Tua also took the Tide kicker who had missed two FG's off the hook. I knew he was going to miss the second FG at the end of regulation. I watched his sideline warmups. The mechanics looked forced and his ankle was locked on the follow through in an awkward looking way. He was tight, not mentally ready for the moment.

I disagree with the prevailing practice of having the kicker set up his own practice kicks in complete isolation. I think there should be a couple of other players there with him to help, support, and reassure. It's like they're trying to reinforce the solitude of the job, which is already daunting enough. Better that the kicker be calmly reminded that it's a team sport. Words don't have to be spoken. Just people presence is enough.

I can't believe that whoever on Saban's staff recruited a kid as talented as Tagovailoa convinced him to come to Bama knowing he was going to sit behind Hurts. Most of the top teams have scary positional depth, but this guy is more ready to lead and a bigger difference maker than other #2 QB's. He could have gone to several other elite programs and become their 2017 starter. What he accomplished under the circumstances is greater than what Cardale did for OSU a few years ago.

I'd like to know whether it was Daboll or Saban who made the initial call to start Tagovailoa in the second half.

And the Bama OL coach deserves special mention. With a lefty QB being sent in, the pass blocking assignments suddenly changed from one side of the line to the other. And they had key injuries at tackle to begin with, so the line as a whole did heroic duty as the offense began to move the ball under Tago.

Saban and Belichick are good friends. No doubt Saban texted BB to tell him how great it is to be able to send in a young QB with a live arm and great presence and feel for the game at a moment's notice if the top guy who has always been so dependable just isn't getting it done.

posted by beaverboard at 12:41 PM on January 09, 2018

Saban and Belichick are good friends.

With the current speculation about the relationship between BB, Brady, and Robert Kraft, and the possibility of Belichick moving on, it would not greatly surprise me to see Saban as the next HC of the NEP.

posted by Howard_T at 01:09 PM on January 09, 2018

The thing that impressed me about Saban was that once he made the decision he stuck with it. The kid played far from what would be considered a clean and disciplined game but made more plays than mistakes in the end.

Georgia's coaching staff, on the other hand, essentially shut Fromm down with what I would call a prevent offense: they decided not to try and win but to try not to lose. Running the ball every down in the 2nd half and only attempting passes on 3rd and long when you are at a distinct disadvantage on both sides of the line makes no sense, especially when all of Georgia's offensive success came from Fromm's ability to hit receivers which opened up the play action run game.

posted by cixelsyd at 02:22 PM on January 09, 2018

As a UGA alum, between the OU & 'Bama games, this week has taken years off my life. So stressful, but also proud of the Dawgs. After that sack in OT, I felt good - particularly considering the missed FG to end regulation. Alas.

Agreed that the Offense went away from what was working in the second half. "Oh, another run up the middle with Chubb for 2 yards? Hooray." It felt like the coaching staff was afraid to put closing the game out on Fromm's shoulders. To be fair, UGA did get a few holes to open up in the second half, and in other games (just last week versus OU), the running games takes a toll and large holes open on. Obviously, 'Bama's a different beast and that didn't quite work out.

I can't believe that whoever on Saban's staff recruited a kid as talented as Tagovailoa convinced him to come to Bama knowing he was going to sit behind Hurts.

UGA has a commit from Justin Fields, the top QB recruit. That's with Eason (who's transferring (and should!)) and Fromm (the #2 pro QB recruit in his own right) already on the team. Not sure how we get these QBs to commit with the depth chart - embarrassment of riches.

While I'm obviously disappointed UGA lost, all I could think is how Alabama's kicker would have taken it had UGA won. There would have been some serious hate.

posted by jmd82 at 08:13 PM on January 09, 2018

A shame Georgia couldn't get the victory.

On Jacksonville radio there was a nice discussion about whether any other college coach makes that QB move. Saban had the track record of success to know he could take that risk and get away with it win or lose.

posted by rcade at 04:22 PM on January 10, 2018

What happened to Bama with their QB change is what should have happened to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XII against those dominant, relentless Cowboys when coach Red Miller pulled beleaguered Craig Morton and inserted the energetic, mercurial Norris Weese.

"Who, we are told, makes things happen" intoned Pat Summerall as Weese come onto the field.

posted by beaverboard at 10:04 PM on January 10, 2018

Agreed, rcade. Saban is the coach who could make the change.

I felt really good if Hurts had stayed in. It was clear UGA was out to stop the run and could do so; the secondary had shown it could be beat throughout the year though. As soon as he hit that first pass in the second half, I knew we were in trouble. Still one helluva game!

posted by jmd82 at 09:22 AM on January 11, 2018

Danny Darwin

He was actually a decent signing. Or maybe I should actually look up his numbers instead of just comparing him to Matt Young on the "How Much Did It Hurt?" chart in my mind.

I miss Joe Hesketh.

posted by yerfatma at 01:36 PM on January 11, 2018

I looked. I shouldn't have. Like cixelsyd suggests above, free agency is usually paying for what a player has done rather than what they will do and Darwin was a clear case of that. One decent year out of a guy who was a league-average pitcher over the course of his career (with some great years before he came to Boston of course).

posted by yerfatma at 01:39 PM on January 11, 2018

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