Guest Post: Timing the Market

By Jeff Imbrogno

During my undergraduate studies, my derivatives professor told me a story about one of his friends, who was an options trader. In 1980, his friend purchased options to buy silver for $50 per ounce. At the time, silver experienced a meteoric increase in price, reaching record highs. The price of silver peaked just below $50 per ounce, then rapidly declined, rendering the options effectively worthless. This individual was not ready to accept his loss. Convinced that the price of silver would quickly return to peak levels, he renewed his $50 options for a small fee plus commission. Twenty years later, this gentleman was still paying to renew these options every three months because he was unwilling to accept his loss. When I watch the 2013 Phillies, I am reminded of this poor investor. As the trade deadline approaches and the team remains in playoff contention purgatory, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has not committed to buying or selling players. It is expected that the Phillies will wait until the end of the Tigers’ series to decide whether to move or add players, but will the team’s assets have any value by the time Amaro is ready to sell them?

With the non-waiver deadline approaching, teams have already begun making moves. The Cubs have been the most active, trading Scott Feldman for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop, Carlos Marmol for Matt Guerrier, and Matt Garza for Mike Olt, Justin Grimm, and C.J. Edwards. The Garza trade is the most notable move for the Cubs since it returned two of the Rangers’ preseason top five prospects. The Dodgers acquired Ricky Nolasco from the Miami Marlins for Steven Ames, Josh Wall, and Angel Sanchez, and the Orioles acquired Francisco Rodriguez for Nick Delmonico. The Rangers, Orioles, and Dodgers were all potential buyers from the Phillies that are slowing filling their needs while moving valuable assets in the process.

The Phillies appear to be in no rush to make a decision to trade players from their current roster, but the decision should be made sooner than later. There are only a finite number of teams seeking to acquire players, and a finite number of prospects of value for these players. The longer the Phillies wait, the fewer buyers there will be. It appears the Phillies believe the market will always exist for certain players, particularly Cliff Lee, but this is simply not true. First, there are teams in contention without a need for these players. For example, when discussing the market for Lee, there are very few of these teams that do not need him, but they do exist. The Cardinals have one of the best rotations in the league with depth in their Minor League system. The Dodgers have a very talented and expensive rotation. Second, there are teams that are not major deadline buyers, such as the Rays and Athletics. They have strict budgets and are mindful of the sustained success of their franchises. Trading two or three cheap potential future major league players for an expensive one or two year rental does not fit their business model. Third, there are teams not in contention. These teams may have interest in some of the Phillies’ players in the offseason, but as of now they are not interested in acquiring Major League talent. When we truly evaluate the market for potential buyers, the market may be much smaller than the Phillies or anyone else anticipates.

The other consideration for the Phillies in regards to any potential trade is their required return. Amaro has stated publicly on numerous occasions that he expects a premium return for Lee and Jonathan Papelbon. The return for Lee should be very high, based on the offseason trades for R.A. Dickey and James Shields. On the other hand, the Phillies should expect a lower return for Papelbon. The likely return for their other assets should match up with expectations. The team seems reluctant to part ways with Chase Utley and may require a large return for him as well, but Michael Young, Carlos Ruiz, and Delmon Young should not have high price tags. If the Phillies have any intention to move Lee, Papelbon, and Utley, their best move would be to extract as much value as possible before teams begin filling their needs. They have already missed an opportunity to acquire elite talent from Texas in a potential Lee trade. There is still a market for Lee, but a trade with Texas would have been their best opportunity to return two quality Major League-ready talent and more.

Based on the Phillies’ inactivity to this point, it seems more likely they will retain most of their players in hopes of competing in 2014. Michael Young and Ruiz will most likely be dealt, but Lee, Papelbon, and Utley will likely be donning red pinstripes next season. Amaro’s job depends upon the team making the playoffs in 2014, and without those players their chances to compete would be further diminished. Unless Amaro becomes uncharacteristically altruistic and decides to trade the core of this team for greater future potential, expect the return of an aging core in 2014, with a placeholder for Maikel Franco at third base, an upgrade over Delmon Young in right field, Tommy Joseph at catcher, and a few free agent middle relievers to help the team compete in 2014. In this way, Amaro is much like that silver investor: He continues to hold onto his rapidly depreciating assets in hopes that one day they may regain value. Hopefully, he takes a page out of Rays GM Andrew Friedman’s book and begins acting like a calculating investment banker.

Ed. Note: Thanks to Jeff for his submission. If you would like to submit a guest post, email it to CrashburnAlley [at] gmail [dot] com for consideration.

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42 comments

  1. BradInDC

    July 25, 2013 07:50 AM

    Thanks, Jeff. I’m with you until Tommy Joseph catching in 2014. His 2013 has been a lost year. More likely to me is Eric Kratz and a FA to be named or Cam Rupp as his primary backup.

  2. Ryne Duren

    July 25, 2013 08:48 AM

    Great article there Jeff! I enjoyed reading it. I think you hit the nail on the head with your insight. I don’t agree with everything however, I think you have their plans down. And it’s unfortunate that that’s what I think there plans are.
    Personally I don’t understand their thinking on most of the roster moves they make, or for that matter the one’s they don’t make.
    The outfield is dismal defensively. They do have a couple guys at AAA that would have warranted a try at least over Martinez. And M Youngs defense at 3rd is horrible and it’s not like he’s hitting that well. What more does Asche have to do to be called up to play 3rd. Mayberry’s play in the outfield last night (and other nights) is also horrible. Can Hernandez be any worse?
    I don’t mind if they extended Utley for a year with an option. Chooch? it’s time for him to go. Paps? If your not going to the post season you don’t need him.
    What I’m hoping for is that after we either lose 2of three or get swept by Detroit we leave without Paps and come home with Castellanos.
    We can concentrate on the pen in the off season. We need to obtain and promote position players.
    In my eyes the purge of this team should be. Both Youngs, mini mart, Mayberry, Nix, McDonald,Paps And they could ad Castellanos , Asche, Hernandez, Castro.
    I don’t know fill in the blanks on the bench guys. There has to be a few out there whether on the farm or elsewhere better than this motley crew. This has been a painful and frustrating season as any in my 63 yrs.

  3. Jeff Imbrogno

    July 25, 2013 08:59 AM

    Brad, I agree with you as well. Joseph has had a really tough year unfortunately. I think I became so ingrained with the idea that Joseph would be the catcher next year that he became my default solution at catcher. I agree it will most likely be Kratz or a similar stop gap at catcher. Now if only they could figure out a way to play Michael Martinez at catcher.

  4. Dristone

    July 25, 2013 09:15 AM

    Would Lee really have gone to Texas? Aren’t they included in his no trade clause, or am I mistaken? Were you assuming that the Phillies are so far out of contention for a serious bid at the series that he’d be willing to waive that, if we had tried to trade him there, for a shot at October baseball?

  5. Joecatz

    July 25, 2013 09:35 AM

    I think this was a really good piece. The only issue I have is aside from lee, no one that’s been dealt would have pulled interest away from phillies trade pieces.

    And Lee is a special case, IMO based on his no trade and contract.

  6. Pencilfish

    July 25, 2013 10:29 AM

    Jeff,

    Interesting analogy on commodity trading, but the analogy only goes so far (I’m sure you know it too).

    Holding on to guys like Lee and Utley sells tickets and keeps the impression (or illusion) that the team plans to contend now and in the near-term. There is a certain revenue stream that dries up if you replace them with guys like Cesar Hernandez and Ethan Martin. Think of it as the dividends from your investments. These dividends are much higher for Utley and Lee than for the Youngs, Ruiz and Papelbon.

    Given the the need to minimize revenue loss, the new TV contract, and a desire to field a competitive team in 2014, keeping Lee, Utley and maybe Pap is the best way to achieve these goals.

  7. Mike A

    July 25, 2013 10:42 AM

    It’s interesting that the goal is to make the playoffs (either in ’13 or ’14). Does anyone remember 2007? The Phils made that great run to overtake the Mets, only to drop 4-straight to the Rockies. In the end, the only thing making the playoffs accomplished was extending the season by 4 games. Granted, that was a team on the rise, but still, the playoffs should not be the goal. Winning the Series should be the goal.

    If this series with the Cards proves anything, it’s that the Phils are not a playoff caliber team, and they’ll get dusted by an elite team in head-to-head competition. And we’re not one-or-two players away from being an elite team. IF anything, our aging roster will decline further next year.

    The goal should be to win it all, and there simply isn’t enough talent on this team to achieve that goal.

    As great as it has been to have Utley, Ruiz and Lee on the roster, it’s better to sell them off now while they have value so we can build a potential Series-winning team in ’15, or thereafter. Obviously, there are no guarantees those players for whom we trade will be the answer, but we already know what the answer will be with our current team, and it’s not the answer we desire.

  8. Phillie697

    July 25, 2013 10:44 AM

    To all of the people who were still screaming about waiting a month ago, holding on to your worthless options hoping it will turn into gold (or silver in this particular case)…
    Wanna buy some $50 silver options?

    @Pencilfish,

    Yes, I’m sure that’s what Cardinals had in mind, declining ticket sells and the fanbase thinking they aren’t planning to contend anymore, when they said goodbye to Albert Pujols. Pretty damn sure the Cardinals fans are very glad that their FO are a hell of a lot smarter than they are. WINNING sells tickets, and when you WIN, you don’t have to give the “impression” of planning to contend; nothing like giving that “impression” than ACTUALLY contending.

    Unfortunately, RAJ thinks just like you, which means he’s not a lot smarter than the Phillies fans.

  9. Pencilfish

    July 25, 2013 11:12 AM

    Phillie697,

    Not sure why you keep make insulting comments like that, linking my intelligence to RAJ. I thought we were past that, but I was wrong. If we ever had a chance to meet and compare credentials and accomplishments, you will be surprised by the results…I can assure you of that, but I will refrain from making comments about your IQ or EQ.

    The fans are still paying (attendance, TV and merchandise) to see the product RAJ put on the field. Fans will stop spending time and money when they realize the product is not good. This implies that either the fans are smarter than you think, or RAJ is smarter and fooling them. Many fans spend a lot of time on this blog. I will leave it to you to reach the most logical conclusion.

  10. Mike A

    July 25, 2013 11:34 AM

    Pencilfish,

    Hopefully the front office doesn’t believe that.

    The fans may still be spending on tickets and merchandise, but they aren’t spending like they were.

    The Phillies at-home sell-out streak ended when the team stopped being competitive. While they were an elite team, the place was packed game after game.

    Although I grew up in Philly (spending my first 40 years there), I now reside in the Pacific Northwest. It was fascinating during the Phils’ run the past few years how many people (who were not from back home) were sporting Phils hats and jerseys. These days? They don’t appear anywhere.

    Revenue from tickets, merchandise, etc. will decline further if the team fails to field a true competitor.

    We probably all agree with that, but I’m not sure the organization has come to terms with it.

  11. Pencilfish

    July 25, 2013 11:56 AM

    Mike A,

    I agree, but the question is whether the Phillies are losing money or just making less? I guess the latter, but no one knows for sure. The Phillies are more competitive with Lee and Utley on the roster in 2014 and beyond, but it doesn’t mean a transition hasn’t already begun. Young players like Brown, Revere and Petitbone (maybe Asche, Hernandez, Martin, etc later) are already on the roster.

    Then, there’s the new TV contract after then 2015 season. The Dodgers with new ownership and the massive new TV contract are spending lavishly. RAJ wants to keep the team competitive to maximize the the TV deal. We will find out in the next few weeks how the organization plans to keep the team competitive, and that will shed some light on its strategy for 2014 and beyond.

  12. Phillie697

    July 25, 2013 11:56 AM

    @Pencilfish,

    I wasn’t trying to insult your intelligence. I was insulting RAJ’s. If you take that comment as insulting your intelligence, then I apologize; that was not the intent.

    “Fans will stop spending time and money when they realize the product is not good.” Exactly. A good product, in this case, is a WINNING baseball team. Not one where we spend a bunch of money giving the “impression” of a winning baseball team. Smart FOs, like the Cardinals, realize this. They can live without Albert Pujols. They can live with the fan backlash. They can live with the emotional consequences. They can do so because they will WIN. You do what you have to do to WIN, not for show. What you are suggesting is nothing but a show. Fans are smarter than that, eventually anyway.

  13. Phillie697

    July 25, 2013 12:13 PM

    “The fans are still paying (attendance, TV and merchandise) to see the product RAJ put on the field.”

    I’m pretty sure even back in 2001, when this team reeked of suckness, that we were still selling SOME tickets, had SOME TV deal, and sold SOME merchandises. I know, because I was one of them fans who bought all three.

    Today’s team has Lee. Today’s team has Utley. We are below .500. You keep believing that our financial resources, such as it is, will by itself keep us competitive. Last time I checked, this town isn’t all that much different size-wise, demographic-wise, and earning-wise, than 2001. I’m pretty sure finances didn’t keep us competitive then, nor did we spend our way into the 2008 WS win. And if we don’t find a way to field an ACTUAL competitive team, not one where we just keep putting on band-aids, this town is gonna go back to 2001.

    No one WANTS to trade Lee or Utley in a perfect world. But this team is running on empty, and we have to find a way to maximize what little we do have. Lee and Utley represent two big assets that we can turn into even more assets. As you amply said, “[m]any fans spend a lot of time on this blog.” Many of those advocate trading Lee and Utley. I will leave it to you to reach the most logical conclusion on whether fans will revolt if we do trade Lee and/or Utley. Assuming that the haul back are decent of course.

  14. Pencilfish

    July 25, 2013 02:11 PM

    Phillies697,

    Don’t disagree with last paragraph at all, except how are we assured the “haul back are decent”? No one can make the case the future is brighter than the present if we trade Utley and Lee (instead of keeping them). It could be worse. Tampa is an example of what happens when things go right. The Pirates are/were the example of what happens when things go wrong. Prospects are just lottery tickets. Look at the ones RAJ traded away in the past 4 years. Not a single one (not yet anyway) has made us regret them.

    I don’t disagree the team needs new blood. Some of them are already here (ie, Brown and Revere). More is definitely needed. Our disagreement is how we get back to winning and when.

  15. Pencilfish

    July 25, 2013 02:16 PM

    and there’s this. I trust Ed Wade on a rebuilding program and smart drafting. Gillick is a genius with undervalued talent. RAJ got great stars in Halladay, Lee and Papelbon, but I don’t have any evidence RAJ can trade for great prospects who are on the cusp of the majors. What if he gets some duds in exchange for Lee and Utley?

  16. schmenkman

    July 25, 2013 02:32 PM

    Wade and Gillick are still on the payroll, and hopefully offering some advice.

  17. Mike A

    July 25, 2013 02:35 PM

    Unfortunately, the entire process is a crap-shoot.

    As you noted, none of the prospects we lost have cost us much, and actually gained us plenty.

    Many sure-fire studs (ie: Pujols, the Uptons, etc.)fall on their faces, and end up costing their respective organizations tons of money and future flexibility.

    From what I’ve read, the Phillies talent scouting is sub-par, so if RAJ isn’t particularly adept at recognizing blossoming talent, we’re in deep doo-doo.

  18. hk

    July 25, 2013 02:35 PM

    What if he gets some duds in exchange for Lee and Utley?

    Pencilfish,

    Of course, prospects are lottery tickets, but so are aging players to some extent. Someone could turn that question around and ask, what if Lee and Utley turn out to be duds – and highly compensated ones at that – next year or the year after? Some veteran for prospect trades work out for the team that acquires the veteran(s), some work out for the team that acquires the prospect(s) and some work out for both teams. It’s the job of the GM with the assistance of his scouts and other advisors to decide what’s better for his franchise. While it’s true that Rube’s track record in making trades of this sort is poor, especially if you assess his trades in the same way that you assess his trades of prospects for veterans, that doesn’t mean he should pass up a trade for Utley or Lee if the return is compelling enough in his eyes and those of the scouts. With this team in its current position, Rube’s not doing his job if he doesn’t see what he can get for Lee and Utley, but he should only trade them if he feels the return is too good to pass up.

  19. Phillie697

    July 25, 2013 02:50 PM

    @Pencilfish,

    As I said many many times, if any of our analysis of what this TEAM should do have to be colored by our lack of confidence in RAJ to actually do them, then we might as well stop discussing, because quite frankly, I have ZERO confidence in RAJ’s ability to put on the field a competitive team long-term.

    “Our disagreement is how we get back to winning and when.” This is most definitely true. Like my discussion with joecatz shown, I am all for winning next year, but I also want to CONTINUE winning, and not manage this team with the short-term glasses that RAJ apparently have been wearing for the last 5 years.

  20. Ginner207

    July 25, 2013 03:15 PM

    Trade Utley, get a solid return and then resign him in the offseason. That’d be the perfect thing to do with him.

  21. Jeff Imbrogno

    July 25, 2013 06:14 PM

    @Dristone Yes, according to reports, Texas is part of Lee’s no trade list. I assumed given the right opportunity to play for a legitimate contender that he would waive his no trade clause.

    @JoeCatz I did focus on Cliff Lee and on the current trade deadline, but this issue also pertains to this past offseason, particularly in regards to Jimmy Rollins. Rollins posted a 4.8 WAR in 2012. If Ruben was realistic about the team’s chances to compete in 2013, he could have tried to move Rollins and received some value for him. The teams in need of a shortstop filled their needs in other ways, while Rollins value has quickly eroded.

    @Pencilfish I agree that there are interest other than winning baseball games for management to consider. Without being privy to internal conversations, it is difficult to determine the level of involvement of the owners. Given their historically low profile, I would imagine ownership would defer to Ruben Amaro and the rest of the front office to handle baseball decisions. If there are no external forces driving Ruben’s decisions, it is a case of Ruben being unwilling to dismantle the current team.

  22. hk

    July 25, 2013 06:41 PM

    “Prospects are just lottery tickets. Look at the ones RAJ traded away in the past 4 years. Not a single one (not yet anyway) has made us regret them.”

    What criteria are you using and will you use in the future to determine whether you regret not having one or more of the prospects? The opportunity cost of not having them means that the Phils did not have a chance to use them to acquire better players for 2012 or this year. For example, one traded prospect has already been traded for the reigning Cy Young award winner.

    Others reached the majors at the young ages of 21 (Gose), 22 (Villar) and 23 (Cosart), but have not played enough games to prove anything….nor at those ages should one expect them to have proven anything yet.

    Roy Oswalt produced 4.4 WAR in 1.3 seasons for the Phillies. Gose and Villar have combined to produce 0.8 WAR in 228 PA in their young careers while JA Happ has produced 3.2 WAR since leaving the Phils. Hunter Pence produced 3.6 WAR in 1 season for the Phillies. Something tells me that Cosart + Singleton will far outproduce 3.6 WAR in their careers even though we all know that prospects are lottery tickets. These deals have the potential to look really bad when you do your results based analysis in a few years, especially if you consider the salaries of the players that the Phils acquired and traded away.

    This quick review doesn’t even take into consideration the cost in salary of Oswalt and Pence vs. the players the Phils traded away.

  23. hk

    July 25, 2013 06:44 PM

    Disregard the last sentence, which I forgot to erase after I took into consideration the costs of the players involved.

  24. Kevin H

    July 25, 2013 11:37 PM

    I may be out in left field, but I don’t see the Phillies having anyone who is attractive. Where is the precedent for someone picking up the expensive, back end of Cliff Lee’s contract? He might help a team get through a post season series or two, but a team with any kind of budget He’s a minimum 25% payroll increase for almost every team. Maybe if he was 32? No one seemed to be interested in paying Papelbon $13 million when he was throwing hard and striking guys out, who is going to sign up for 2-3 more years of that? No one was interested in M or D Young this winter, has anything changed? No power Rollins isn’t worth his salary and sad to say but Chooch is nothing more than catching depth at this point. Utley would bring a prospect but other than that simple deal, I don’t think Amaro has pieces to move.

  25. Phillie697

    July 26, 2013 12:13 AM

    @Kevin H.

    You’re not taking into account our ability to eat some of Lee’s salary if the right prospects are offered.

  26. Pencilfish

    July 26, 2013 11:39 AM

    hk,

    Read the “(not yet anyway)” part regarding prospects traded by RAJ in the past 4 years. I’m allowing for some of them to haunt us in the future. D’Arnaud? He played 79 games the past 2 seasons and is currently on rehab. He may be called up by the Mets in September, barring further injuries. He’s having a Tommy Joseph kind of year for 2 seasons now. Totally non-factor until he plays on a consistent basis. Ditto for Villar, Cosart, Gose, etc. We may regret the trades, but just not yet, if ever.

    I seriously doubt the Phillies make it to 3 straight postseasons (2009-2011) under RAJ without those trades. To say that these prospects could have helped us in 2012 (and later) means Halladay, Lee, Pence, Oswalt, etc would not be there to help in 2009-2011. We would be trying to reach the post-season with the likes of Brett Myers, JMJ, Burrell, Moyer, etc.

    As for trading Lee and Utley, no one outside of the FO knows if RAJ got offers and then rejected them. So as far as we know, they could have done their due diligence. On the other hand, I can’t see how anyone can make a case that trading them for prospects helps the team win in the short-term. Even if all the lottery tickets hit the jackpot, it doesn’t help in the short-term. The kind of play we saw the past 5-6 days is the likely result of blowing up the team.

  27. Pencilfish

    July 26, 2013 11:59 AM

    Jeff,

    “If there are no external forces driving Ruben’s decisions, it is a case of Ruben being unwilling to dismantle the current team.”

    I think it is both. External forces are real and significant, but not (yet) sufficient to overcome his resistance to dismantle the current team. History suggests blowing up teams (ie, the 93 Phillies) leads the franchise to purgatory for several years. I expect RAJ not to do it until forced to do so.

  28. hk

    July 26, 2013 12:07 PM

    “Totally non-factor until he plays on a consistent basis.”

    The issue with D’Arnaud is that he already brought value to his 1st new team in that he was valuable enough to have been traded for the reigning Cy Young Award winner. That’s an opportunity cost to the Phillies. Having said that, I was happy with the Halladay deal and remain happy with it.

    “I seriously doubt the Phillies make it to 3 straight postseasons (2009-2011) under RAJ without those trades.”

    The Lee trade (the one from Cleveland, not to Seattle) was an absolute steal. However, the Phillies had a 7 game lead in the loss column with 62 games to play when they acquired Lee. They were pretty likely to make the playoffs without that deal. Similarly, when they acquired Pence with 57 games to go in the 2011 season, they had a 6 game lead in the loss column in the division and 9.5 game lead over the top Wild Card opponent. Again, the were pretty likely to make the playoffs without that deal.

    “As for trading Lee and Utley…I can’t see how anyone can make a case that trading them for prospects helps the team win in the short-term.”

    I don’t think that anyone who is advocating for the team to trade Lee and Utley thinks doing so will help the team win in the short-term. I think those who have that opinion believe that RAJ has so decimated the farm system and the MLB roster that contending in the short-term is a pipe-dream and a realistic GM should be looking to what is best to make them contenders as soon as possible. Personally, I am on the fence on this issue and would like to see them trade Utley and/or Lee if the return is significant (maybe a top 25 prospect for Utley and one of the game’s top 3-5 young playeres or prospects for Lee).

  29. Phillie697

    July 26, 2013 12:58 PM

    I think Dan K. said it best in another thread:

    “With that in mind, they are better served blowing up the team if it means future sustained success; that is KEEPING fans in the seats instead of luring them back just to have them leave again when the team completely falls apart.”

  30. larrylafite

    July 26, 2013 04:45 PM

    can someone explain why the cubs are picking up 17.7 mil or soriano’s salary for a class a pitcher? what am i missing here?

  31. hk

    July 26, 2013 07:52 PM

    larrylafite,

    As of this morning, the Cubs owed Soriano $24.5M for the rest of this season, in which they are not contenders, and all of next season, when they most likely will not contend. By trading Soriano, they save $6.8M. Put differently, the Yankees thought it was worth a class A pitcher to acquire Soriano if all that they had to pay him was $6.8M for the remainder of this year and next. That deal sounds about right to me.

  32. Pencilfish

    July 27, 2013 02:48 PM

    Phillie697, hk,

    RAJ is on record that the team will NOT be blown up. Without an intent to insult or being condescending, one must appreciate the business side of baseball. Otherwise, some organizational moves (or non-moves) do not make sense.

    Signing Swisher instead of DY was brought up in another thread. Besides the need to re-stock the minors which you bring up often (ie, Crawford), last off-season RAJ wasn’t sure the Phillies could compete with Halladay, Utley and Howard coming back from injuries and Brown’s pre-2013 issues. Tying the club to a long-term deal with Swisher wouldn’t: a) decrease the average age of the roster, b) keep the team competitive without the players above, and c) improve payroll flexibility in 2014 and beyond.

    The reported Gonzalez signing seems to indicate the organization is now focused on 2014 and beyond. Who’s traded and kept in the next few days will further indicate whom the organization considers important (or not).

  33. hk

    July 27, 2013 03:25 PM

    Pencilfish,

    Believe me, I do not need any lessons in the business side of anything from you. However, there’s a legitimate argument to be made that the best baseball decisions are in fact the best business decisions (see Dan K.’s comment). This team’s attendance is trending downward and this fanbase is too smart to fall for another patchwork effort to remain as a fringe contender with the likes of Ty Wigginton, Laynce Nix and Delmon Young getting significant playing time.

    A problem often exists when the best long-term interests of the organization are not consistent with the best short-term interests of the one tasked with the decision making. IF (capitalized for emphasis) RAJ thinks or even has been told that his future employment depends upon the team’s performance in 2014, the decisions he makes may in fact be short-sighted and not in the best interests of the fans or the owners. Remember, as past history has shown, just because RAJ decides to do something doesn’t mean it’s the right or best decision (baseball-wise or business-wise). Hopefully, the Gonzalez signing, which I applaud, is a step in the right direction.

  34. Phillie697

    July 28, 2013 03:34 AM

    @Pencilfish,

    Baseball is not like other businesses; in other businesses, you maximize profit. In baseball, you maximize wins. Money in fact is the means to that end, not the end itself.

    Building up the farm and going with younger players are great, and you know my feelings on that. But what you and joecatz never completely understood about my vision for this team is that it’s not ALL I want for this team. Young players bring efficiency, which means we can maximize wins without spending a lot of money on them, allowing us to spend said money on OTHER, not so efficient methods of maximizing wins.

    I think Swisher would have been a decent signing; my preference for solving that problem has been WELL documented, lest all of you forget already. I WANTED JUSTIN UPTON!!! Bar that, Swisher was signed to a reasonable contract, and the cost to us if we signed him would be, what, money we have to spend anyway on a OF no matter if it’s in 2013 or 2014, and J.P. Crawford, an 18-year-old prospect who won’t be ready for another 5 years, one that we don’t even have any numbers to analyze? Draft picks don’t mean as much to me nearly as prospects who have already backed up their talent with some actual performance. Should I remind you of Larry Green?

    What’s the point of payroll flexibility if we have to spend it on something no matter what? This isn’t like the Lee situation, where freeing up the money for flexibility is only part of the benefit, the other part being bringing in a high-value prospect (i.e. not an 18-year-old kid) or two. We had the money, we had an open spot, we spend it, unless you had some other option in mind (JUSTIN UPTON!!!) I don’t make plans on what-ifs and just-in-cases.

  35. hk

    July 28, 2013 05:30 AM

    Forget Swisher and forget Justin Upton. A strict Schierholtz / Mayberry platoon in RF all year might well have produced more WAR than Swisher and Upton combined and would have cost less in $ and prospects. Platooning may be the new market inefficiency.

  36. Phillie697

    July 28, 2013 11:29 AM

    @hk,

    Justin Upton would have been a “prospect” himself in a loose sense of that word, which is he he would be more valuable long-term than a Schierholtz/Mayberry platoon.

  37. Pencilfish

    July 28, 2013 09:44 PM

    hk,

    “the best baseball decisions are in fact the best business decisions”

    Keeping Lee IS the best baseball decision if we want to compete in the next few years. So is re-signing Utley and signing Gonzalez. If you really don’t need any business lessons from me, you can demonstrate that by taking into consideration the relationship between Lee, Utley, Gonzalez, etc and the new TV contract.

    As for Dan K.’s comment, there was a big IF in that comment. Not sure you read it correctly.

  38. hk

    July 29, 2013 05:29 AM

    Pencilfish,

    From his age 31 to his age 34 seasons, Cliff Lee’s WAR has gone from 7 to 6.5 to 4.9 to what projects to be 4.2 this year. What makes you so sure that he will not continue to decline and that the return for him plus the ability to spend his salary elsewhere is the right decision? Actually, how can you even make such a statement without knowing the best possible return that the Phillies could get for him? Hypothetically, when the Phils were looking to move him last year, if Baltimore had been willing to part with Manny Machado for him, would you have called it a bad baseball decision and a bad business decision?

    I wish I had your crystal ball so I could know (a) the opportunity cost of keeping Lee and (b) what will happen over the next 2 years. Having said that, I hope you replaced the crystal ball that told you the Chad Durbin, Mike Adams and Delmon Young signings were good moves and that the team would not miss Nate Schierholtz.

  39. Pencilfish

    July 29, 2013 11:23 AM

    “Although we don’t have any desire to move a guy like that because we view him as someone who will be key to our future, I am a businessperson as well and I’ll be a good listener,” Amaro told Crasnick in a telephone interview.

    This is RAJ on any possible Lee trade. Unless you want to call him a liar, he’s listening to offers. If Lee is not traded, obviously RAJ (and ownership) didn’t find the offer very enticing.

    “What makes you so sure that he will not continue to decline and that the return for him plus the ability to spend his salary elsewhere is the right decision?”

    I have no idea if Lee won’t continue to decline. My stance is that even a declining Lee over the next 2 seasons will be an asset if the Phillies hope to compete. Now, if you answer my question, we can truly call this a dialogue…

    What makes you so sure a fire sale (as per Dan K.’s comments) will lead to sustained success? If you bring the Rays and A’s, I can bring up the Astros, Padres, Marlins, etc.

    Schierholtz would have been nice, I admit, but the Phillies don’t miss him, because he alone would not have made a difference in 2013. Also, bringing up past moves (such as non-tendering Schierholtz) isn’t very forward-looking. Dwelling on the past hinders us from talking about the future, which is what we should be doing given the current standings and the approaching trade deadline.

  40. Phillie697

    July 29, 2013 11:38 AM

    “If Lee is not traded, obviously RAJ (and ownership) didn’t find the offer very enticing.”

    Why is that obvious?

    “I have no idea if Lee won’t continue to decline. My stance is that even a declining Lee over the next 2 seasons will be an asset if the Phillies hope to compete.”

    It’s imminently debatable if 4 WAR on $25M per is truly an “asset.”

    Obviously a rebuild won’t guarantee success. But a non-rebuild WILL guarantee failure once Lee is gone, even IF he doesn’t decline. Who are we replacing him with? Sign someone else? Exactly how is that different than trading him now, get prospects, and sign someone else? Because our farm is almost completely empty, we can’t just look at the next three years and hope for the best. This is an aging team whose assets it has is quickly deteriorating, whatever little prospects who we do have left, most of us are counting on to be replacements for the MLB roster (if that thought doesn’t scare you I don’t know what does, because I’m sorry, our prospects aren’t that good). Exactly what do you advocate we restock the cupboard with if we don’t cash in now?

    Papelbon looks like he’s not going anywhere at this point (contract + dwindling demand = no takers). Michael Young is not going to land us anyone we’re going to be excited about. Delmon Young might get us half a bag of balls if we’re lucky, and Ruiz is a sell-low candidate, and everybody knows it. Waiting a month before deciding to sell has already killed the trade values of most of our other assets, and Lee remains attractive ONLY because there is no one else like him out there. Unfortunately, because we waited to even talk about trading him, even the return we get for him if we trade him is likely to be less than what we could have gotten if we traded him a month ago. Just like every trade deadline, this one is turning into a shitcan, once again.

  41. Pencilfish

    July 29, 2013 01:42 PM

    Latest on Lee trade rumors.

    CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman hears that the asking price for left-hander Cliff Lee is “extremely high.
    “Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is telling people it’ll take you three or four best prospects, plus you’d have to take all the money,” a competing executive told CBS Sports on Monday. Lee, 34, is owed $25 million in 2014, another $25 million in 2015, and he carries a $27.5 million vesting option (or a $12.5 million buyout) for 2016. He seems likely to ultimately stay put in Philadelphia.

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