Thursday, December 10, 2009
Astros throw $15 million at Brandon Lyon
As a friend suggests, this is the winter's best takedown of a signing so far:
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.
I'm glad Dave Cameron said it instead of me ... but, yeah.
The Astros actually play in a pretty solid market, in the top dozen or so anyway. They've got a relatively new ballpark. Owner Drayton McLane did finance roughly a third of the stadium's construction, for which he deserves credit. But the bottom line is that the Astros play in a bigger market, and are presumably wealthier, than the Cardinals, the Brewers, the Pirates, and the Reds. In fact, the Astros should enjoy huge financial edges over all or most of those clubs.
The No. 1 argument against Ed Wade's competence is not this ridiculous contract. The Astros should be able to blow $5 million per season on freely available talent like Brandon Lyon and still win. The No. 1 argument against Wade's competence is that the Astros have been outscored by 232 over the last four seasons, and there's no reason for optimism about 2010 or beyond.