The Worst Signing Of The Winter

I’m one of those people who doesn’t really enjoy Saturday Night Live sketches, because to me, the joke is made in the first 15 seconds and then just repeated over and over for the next several minutes. You drive a Dodge Stratus and you think that makes you important – okay. Not much funnier the 15th time you yell it. Not to me, anyway.

Ed Wade is the GM equivalent of a bad SNL sketch. The first time he overpaid a middle reliever, we figured out that he didn’t really know how to build a roster. Now, when he gives Brandon Lyon a 3 year, $15 million deal, we just shrug our shoulders and say, “Yeah, that’s Ed Wade for ya.”

Seriously, $5 million a year for the next three years for Brandon Lyon. We’re not talking about overpaying for a premium bullpen guy. Lyon is a generic middle reliever, the kind of guy who could be replaced by a minor league free agent or a Rule 5 draftee. His career FIP is 4.23, which is below average for a relief pitcher. He doesn’t even have magical FIP-beating properties – his career ERA is 4.20.

But, hey, he got hit lucky last year (.229 BABIP) and that allowed him to strand a bunch of runners (80.8% LOB%), so his 2009 ERA is a sparkly 2.86. To Wade, that matters, because he’s still analyzing like it’s 1999. Don’t worry about the fact that his career BABIP is .305 or that his career LOB% is 71.4%, and that the entirety of his low ERA in 2009 was luck – pay him like the best reliever on the market anyway.

What year does Wade think this is? The market for relief pitchers absolutely cratered a year ago, as teams stopped paying significant money for setup guys who could be effectively replaced by league-minimum earners. So far this year, we’ve seen a significant pullback from even that level of spending. The average dollar per win for the first crop of free agents signed this winter has been about $3 million per win. The Astros are paying about $10 million – ten million – per win for Lyon.

They don’t have any money to spend to fix the rest of their bad, old roster, but they can commit $5 million a year to Brandon Lyon through 2012. Moves like this are why the team isn’t good, and won’t be good any time soon. This move is just the latest act in a joke that’s gone on far too long.





Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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lookatthosetwins
Guest
lookatthosetwins

I like it when people try to say that FOs all know more than we do and don’t base signings on on year of performance, etc. JC Bradbury, I’m looking at you. Moves like this make it obvious that there are still people who know less than the average blogger about talent evaluation running multimillion dollar baseball organizations.

WY
Guest
WY

If the average blogger was in charge of a team, he would make plenty of mistakes, too. Not defending this move, but…seriously.

baines03
Guest
baines03

As bad as this signing is… it’s a bit much to totally bash Wade’s talent evaluation. The guy DID draft Utley, Burrell, Howard and Hamels.

Marcel
Member
Marcel

Mike Arbuckle would be the guy that was responsible for drafting those guys.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R

This is kind of like when Ned Coletti gets credit for the Dodgers’ good young players when it was Dan Evans responsible for Kemp/Kershaw/Martin/Loney/Billingsley

Steve
Guest
Steve

then Wade gets credit for hiring Arbuckle. that’s part of a GM’s responsibilities.

when a bunch of draft picks work out for a GM that we DO like, we usually don’t discount that GM even though his scouting director likely made those choices.

BATTLETANK
Member
BATTLETANK

Arbuckle joined the Phillies in ’92. way before ed wade was the GM.

BrettJMiller
Guest
BrettJMiller

Whether you say it was Wade’s responsibility for hiring Arbuckle or not, it doesn’t change the fact that Utey, Burrell, Howard, and Hamels were all very talented and there’s a good chance that many, many “lesser qualified” people may have drafted them as well.

ugen64
Member
ugen64

Matt Wieters was talented too. Don’t the Pirates get some credit for not drafting Daniel Moskos ahead of him? Oh wait…

Steve
Guest
Steve

yeah, i’m not pretending to know the inner workings of the Phillies. point taken on Arbuckle.

my point was really that i would imagine most GMs defer to their staff when making draft selections. even the ones who are popular here.

JH
Guest
JH

Joe R: Dan Evans? I always thought Logan White got the majority of the credit for the Dodgers’ drafts over the past decade or so.

JoeR43
Member
JoeR43

Well what I meant was that most of those guys were drafted during the Evans era.

I sound like Joe Morgan when caught bullshitting.

Joser
Member
Joser

But at least you admit it. Better still, you’re aware you’re doing it.