Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bill Hall Signs Long Term Deal

I couldn't have been more wrong. After turning down Melvin's overtures for a long term deal last, I was convinced that Bill Hall was content to play out his three arbitration years and wait for the big pay day of free agency. Heck, I didn't blame him. So, you'll appreciate my surprise when I heard that the Brewers and Hall agreed to a four year deal yesterday for what appears to be under market value. Better still, there's a club option for a fifth year, which is almost certainly going to be picked up by the Brewers. This signing alone turns a mediocre off season by Melvin into a good one, in my opinion.

Here are the salary terms of the contract:

2007: $3.50 MIL
2008: $4.80 MIL
2009: $6.80 MIL
2010: $8.40 MIL
2011: $9.25 MIL (Club Option)

Hall has had two very good years in a row (.280/.344/.525/.869, combined), can play almost anywhere defensively and is now signed through his peak years (ages 27 - 31). Looking at the dollar figures, it's difficult to imagine that he would have made less money in arbitration for 07' through 09' than the numbers above. That leaves 2010 and 2011, which (assuming yearly league payroll inflation of 10%) has a present value of $6.3 MIL for both years. That's peanuts in today’s market!

Hall has been very good the last couple of years and long term prospects look very good as well. 2007, ZiPS projects .268/.334/.496/.830 and Marcels projects about the same. That's for his age 27 year. He was an average defensive SS but I suspect he'll be above average in CF. He seems to be a stand up guy and he’s also a fan favorite. I can't figure out what not to like about this deal.

Congratulations Hall, Melvin and the fans. The Brewers might have finally turned a corner. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to reread this thread from brewerfan.net.


Here's what Tangotiger (One of the authors of "THE BOOK--Playing The Percentages In Baseball") thinks about the signing:

"Hall: 5/33, backloaded, paying for +11.5 WAR total.

Definitely an interesting case.

His 5-yr contract works out to the equivalent of 5/32, if paid the same amount each year. So, no big difference. He is being paid for +2.8 WAR this year, and I gave him a small decline of 0.25 wins each year.

He is an above average hitter, a +1 win above average. Dewan loves him as a fielder, while Fans think he’s an average fielding SS. Let’s call him a +0.5 wins as a SS. SS also gets a +0.5 positional value, making his fielding +1.0 wins. Overall, he’s +2 wins above average, making him a +4 WAR.

As a CF, he’ll probably be an average fielding CF, plus he gets the +0.5 positional adjustment, for +0.5 wins. Total WAR as a CF is +3.5.

Considering his arbitration-eligibility, he should have signed a 5/44, backloaded deal, as a CF and 5/51, backloaded, as a SS.

This was definitely another steal for the team. Not as Utley-stupid, but Bill Hall should have definitely asked for more.

I may have to rethink my arbitration model of the salary calculator, seeing how these two high profile players didn’t fit the paradigm.

Or, it’s simply the case that these two are examples of how poorly agents value premium positions with good to great fielding talent."

And the answers to a couple of my follow-up questions:

"On Opening Day, he will be around 27.3 years old. The average player will peak right around there.

Yes, conservative estimate about the position switch. In any case, I provided both numbers.

For arbitration: I put in a 20 cents on the dollar for the 1st year, 40 cents for the 2nd year, 60 cents for the 3rd year and 80 cents for the 4th year (you can quibble about each one, but it doesn’t matter much). So, I’ve captured the value of the arbitration year, relative to the free agent year.

However, this is based on single-year signings. A multiple-year arbitration signing may have additional discounts, that I’m not capturing. And it’s possible the player will give a larger discount at the beginning of the arb cycle than the end, simply because he’s earned less than a million dollars in his career at that point."


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Doug Melvin Chat at Bullfrogs Event: Part 2

I just wanted to finish up recapping some of the questions Melvin took during the Bullfrog's event last week. Not too much left to cover but a couple interesting points.

One questioner asked who Melvin considered the leader or leaders of the team, suggesting Geoff Jenkins as a possible leader. Melvin's answer was short and sweet. "Prince Fielder will be the leader of this team." Hard for me to argue with that. Fielder appears poised for a breakout season this year. He also seems to be a nice guy and a fierce competitor. Sounds like a perfect leader to me.

Another question prompted Melvin to talk about "confidence" for quite some time. The questioner asked if Yovani Gallardo was ready for the big leagues. Melvin said that while he feels Yo could compete, he'd probably also take some lumps. For that reason, Melvin said that he'd rather him build up confidence in the minors before being brought up. He went on to stress how important confidence is for younger players. He explained that he didn't have to worry about Prince, since he felt Fielder was prepared from being around major league parks and players his whole life. He mentioned Ryan Braun as a guy who has a lot of confidence, to the point of being "a little cocky." Based on that and other comments he made during the talk, I think it’s a forgone conclusion that Braun will be up sometime this year (just not right away).

He used Ben Hendrickson as an example of a guy who he feels currently lacks confidence. He pointed out that while Hendrickson has dominated AAA, that hasn't yet translated into any kind of success in the majors. Melvin stated, "He lacks confidence.... he can't get over the hump." Not exactly a ringing endorsement but it does suggest that Melvin might be willing to give him another shot in the near future? Perhaps as the longman/mop up guy this year? Personally, I'd like to see it but he also might be a candidate to be traded before spring training. Time will tell.

I’d recommend to any Brewer fan to go see Melvin speak in public sometime. He’s a knowledgeable guy (duh) who’s more than willing to interact with the fans. I know I look forward to the next time I can see him. Maybe next time I’ll have the nerve to strike up a sabermetric conversation with him. :)