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While the overall message comes as no surprise -- the A's announced that they will not re-sign Miguel Tejada -- the timing is extraordinary. I can't remember a situation where a team has pre-emptively said it will not retain a player because of financial reasons before the player's walk year has even begun. Political posturing for the A's to get a new stadium out of the city of Oakland? Perhaps. A depressing scenario being replayed again? Definitely.

Certainly this will pump the rumor mill, but it is unlikely the A's will trade Tejada unless a catastrophic injury or four knocks them out of the race in July. They will contend this year, let Tejada walk, use the two draft picks to select two college pitchers, and shove Mark Ellis or Freddy Bynum of Bobby Crosby out there at shortstop in 2004. It's worked in the past, but, as I've said before on this board, at some point it would be nice if the A's stopped supplying other teams MVP-calibre players and were able to retain a few on their own. I see no way the A's can sign Tim Hudson or Eric Chavez after the 2004 season, either, and it's conceivable Chavez could have a career year either this season or the next, win an MVP, then follow Giambi to New York. Certainly Hudson is capable of winning a Cy Young, as well. Combined with Giambi and Tejada's departures, that's a lot of (theoretical and real) trophies stripped from the walls.

Look, I know I'm beating a dead horse, but how can we take joy in this kind of system? By the start of the 2006 season, it is not inconceivable the A's will have lost the following home-grown players: Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada, Eric Chavez, Tim Hudson, and either Mark Mulder or Barry Zito, maybe, heavens, both. The Seattle Mariners notwithstanding, no organisation can absorb that kind of punishment. I don't care how brilliant Billy Beane is; these kind of franchise players don't come around often, certainly not with talent spread out over 30 teams. You can find all the Scott Hattebergs and Rontrez Johnsons and Mario Valdezes and Cory Lidles you want; sooner or later, this is going to decimate the A's. Maybe I'm being pessimistic, but, assuming Chavez leaves next year, the A's have a two-year window to get it done, maybe three years if hitters like Crosby and Nick Swisher and Jeremy Brown develop. Odds are they won't.

If you've never seen Tejada play, he is truly a treasure. Jason Giambi was fun, too, but in a different way. Miguel plays his tail off, despite a couple of well-publicized run-ins with Art Howe. It looks like he's having fun out there. In short, he's just a helluva baseball player, sabermetricians be damned. Did he deserve the MVP last year? Probably no more than Barry Zito deserved the Cy Young. Nonetheless, it's not out of the question Tejada will take another step up this year -- he's only 26, though there are question about his age -- and hit 40 bombs with peripheries (except for OBP, perhaps) to match. Tejada is not just an MVP: he's a leader. Jason Giambi was a leader, too, but, as I said recently, never expressed a desire to stay in Oakland. The general feeling after he left was, "Well, he didn't want to be here anyway; we'll miss him, and it's too bad, but we'll survive." Somehow, I don't see that kind of reaction this time. Shortstops with 35-homer power and leadership skills aren't found often. Greedy, egocentric first basemen with power and the ability to draw walks, are. Witness Mark McGwire. Before he went to St. Louis, McGwire was as surly as Barry Bonds, to fans and the media. That is a topic for another essay, however; suffice it to say, there are interesting conclusions to be drawn from that analogy.

No matter what I said earlier about us all being replaceable, no matter how ironical I intended to be, Miguel Tejada is not replaceable.
A pre-emptive good-bye | 32 comments | Create New Account
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_Cristian - Saturday, March 15 2003 @ 07:57 PM EST (#93333) #
Giambi didn't want to stay in Oakland? I thought that Giambi wanted a long term deal in Oakland and negotiated one with a no trade clause but ownership didn't sign off on it.

On a related note. I wonder what teams will have the payroll flexibility to go after Guerrero and Tejada. Guerrero is an especially interesting case since he avoids the spotlight. A recent ESPN article mentions how Guerrero enjoys the anonymity and safety of living in Montreal. Is it too much to dream that the Jays would push for a player like that? Toronto is the only MLB city that can be compared with Montreal. JP isn't in Oakland anymore. If it is a smart baseball decision I can't imagine why Rogers wouldn't bump payroll.

I can dream, can't I?
_John Doe - Saturday, March 15 2003 @ 08:31 PM EST (#93334) #
No matter what I said earlier about us all being replaceable, no matter how ironical I intended to be, Miguel Tejada is not replaceable.


Tejada hit .308/.353/.508 last year, with a .300 EqA.
PlayerX hit .288/.356/.478 last year, with a .285 EqA.

PlayerX is a shortstop, at least as good a fielder as Tejada is.

Tejada will get at least $10 million per year, and he seems to want a deal of at least five years, which of course carries lots of risk for a guy who'll be on the wrong side of 30 when it's done.

PlayerX is Jose Hernandez, who cost $1MM this year on a one-year deal.

No, Hernandez isn't Miguel Tejada. But should a team with a $40 million payroll budget really blow $8-9 million (or more) a year on one player to get an extra 27 points of OPS? And is this a crisis to bring on Seligian hyperbole like "Look, I know I'm beating a dead horse, but how can we take joy in this kind of system?"
_Gwyn - Saturday, March 15 2003 @ 09:16 PM EST (#93335) #
Great player as Tejada is. He can probably command more money than he is worth thanks to his MVP and the hype he received last year.

I am hoping the A's do have some money to keep some of their young studs and are simply thinking it will be better left in the bank until Chavez, Mulder hudson and Zito need to be signed.

They offered Giambi a lot of money before he walked, so I am assuming that there is some money available somewhere down the line.

If they cannot afford to sign all those guys maybe they are letting the right one walk.
_Mick - Saturday, March 15 2003 @ 09:19 PM EST (#93336) #
I don't think you can compare Hernandez and Tejada, not legitimately, for two reasons. One is factual: Hernandez is 34 in July and Tejada is 27 in May. One is "intangible" and I will leave the judgment on that to Coach, who knows chemistry, and John, who knows the A's, better than me: leadership and inspiration.

Somehow, Jose Hernandez has never inspired the kind of "don't want to see him up with runners on second and third leading by one run in the ninth" fear Tejada has inspired for the last season and a half.

On Chavez ... isn't he from the L.A. area? I always figured he'd end up with the Dodgers and Beltre would follow the free agent merry-go-round either to Oakland to replace him, cheaply after years of not becoming the All-Star everyone expected, or in New York as Drew Henson signs with the Giants. (New York Giants. Football.)
Gitz - Saturday, March 15 2003 @ 09:20 PM EST (#93337) #
Oh, brother. I'm not a Selig disciple and, frankly, I'm disgusted by the implication that I am. I am simply upset that the A's are forced to split up, because I'm a fan. Remember those? That's why we love baseball, isn't it? Because we're all fans? That's still OK, isn't it? To love BP and Baseball Primer and still find a way to love The game of baseball?

If you want to measure players by OPS and VORP and WORP and EqA, by all means, go for it. But Tejada brings more to the park than an .860 OPS. Anyone who knows anything about baseball would recognize it. And if you're going to criticize me, at least have the gumption to list your name.
Craig B - Sunday, March 16 2003 @ 01:16 AM EST (#93338) #
Don't abuse the guests, Gitz. No one has to leave their name here if they don't want to.

Anyway, I think you're at least partially right... and if I were an A's fan I'd be pi**ed off about this. Tejada is one of my five favorite players in baseball, I adore his skills and respect him greatly.

The fact is that Tejada, as much as anyone in baseball (like Vlad) DESERVES to make the maximum amount of money that he can. Without an NFL-style sharing system, he's never going to be able o do that in Oakland. If that seems like hard cheese for Oakland fans, it's only because there aren't as many of them as there are Boston fans or Cubs fans or Braves fans.
Gitz - Sunday, March 16 2003 @ 01:28 AM EST (#93339) #
Yes, Craig, I apologize for the invective directed at Mr. Doe, who I've since learned the identity of, and who I've also issued an apology to. There was no need for Mr. Doe to stand up and be counted, but he did. Props to him.

Anyway ... I didn't feel this way about Giambi. Sure, I was a little miffed, but not terribly so. He knew the A's would never give him a no-trade clause, so he wisely spun the situation in his favor by saying the money wasn't an issue. Intially I thought it was about the money, but, the fact is, it probably wasn't; Giambi just didn't want to stay in Oakland. Fair enough.

On the other hand, Tejada, as I explained to Mr. Doe, is one of the two or three major leaguers I have an irrational attatchment to; I just LIKE him. Everything Mr. Doe says is right. It's foolish for a team like the A's to throw that kind of cash at him, and, as you say, Craig, it's not fair of us to expect these guys to walk away from all that money.

I'll be nicer to the guests from here on out.
_jason - Sunday, March 16 2003 @ 02:40 AM EST (#93340) #
I mentioned a couple of months ago the unlikelyhood of Oakland re-signing Tjeda and at the time I wondered out loud if the Yankees might sign him and get Jeter to move over to 3rd.
Pepper Moffatt - Sunday, March 16 2003 @ 11:36 AM EST (#93341) #
Re-signing Tejada would be a horrible business decision and I'm glad the A's aren't seriously considering it. I'm also happy to see the A's be upfront about the whole situation, instead of jerking around Tejada and A's fans.
_Matthew Elmslie - Sunday, March 16 2003 @ 01:06 PM EST (#93342) #
Can someone please explain to me why the A's payroll has to be as low as it is? This is a team that plays in a huge media market and is one of the best teams in baseball. Why aren't they raking it in?

I don't think it's an indictment of baseball's financial rules if the A's let all these players go. I think it's an indictment of the Oakland organization's financial savvy.
Gitz - Sunday, March 16 2003 @ 01:41 PM EST (#93343) #

I'm loitering on the board today while doing a Yahoo! fantasy draft, my first one of the season. Hence, the quick reply.

That is an oustanding question. How did the A's get lumped into the small-market cabal?

The SF Bay Area is the fourth-largest market in the U.S. One common theory is that the Giants suck revenue from the A's, but that doesn't wash with the A's teams from the late 1980s; they drew three million fans when, surprise, surprise, they were winning. They're winning now, though, and they're still not drawing. The Giants are a revenue animal -- I believe their raw figures placed them fifth -- but even they have financial constraints, due to the tax burden on (insert failed dot-com of your choice) Park. It's my opinion, however, that the Giants will stop drawing when the Bonds era is over and they fall back to mediocrity for a bit. Their farm system is barren of position players, and if Brian Sabean keeps importing Marquis Grissom and Neifi Perez to fill the gaps, the precipice is closer than ever. The new stadium has already lost a bit of its luster, though it is a very pleasant place to take in ball game, provided the damp marine layer doesn't soak all the way through.

The A's, on the other hand, play in a lousy stadium. The "improvements" Al Davis made when the Raiders came back have turned the place into more of an eyesore than it already was. The A's have made the playoffs three years in a row, and all three years I was able to buy good playoff seats without any problem. I don't even think game five vs. the Yankees (the Jeremy Giambi non-slide affair) two years ago sold out. That's sad, but a reality of how crummy the stadium is, and also how relatively down the Oakland market is. San Francisco is only 15 minutes across the Bay Bridge, but it may as well be Europe. There's a strange dichotemy between San Francisco and Oakland, one I've never quite understood. San Francisco has a superiority complex, one the new stadium has exacerbated, but that doesn't explain why the A's don't tend to draw fans from across the Bay. It's truly bizarre.

So yes, the A's have legitimate budget concerns, but they're also simply frugal. But, even with said factors, they've been pretty good the last three years, for reasons discussed ad nauseum on this board. Makes you wonder how they would do if, as Craig says, and as I said in my first piece on this board, MLB ever adopts an NFL-style revenue sharing plan.

And that's just my opinion, from observations from the local media and conversations with some friends.
_MikeJ - Sunday, March 16 2003 @ 04:25 PM EST (#93344) #
Is this situation any different from NFL teams releasing star players because they are over the salary cap?

Based on the recent off season signings Tejada may find he is not worth as much as he apparently thinks he is. I think it is too early to rule out his coming back to Oakland regardless of the early posturing by Mr. Schott.
_Gwyn - Sunday, March 16 2003 @ 06:54 PM EST (#93345) #

Perhaps you or someone else can do a bit of a public service and explain to me (and any other rookie yaoo owners) how there draft system works ?

I was hoping there would be some information about it on the site but I didnt see any. How long do we each get to make a pick ? what does the interface look like ? How do you make your picks ? etc etc

I'm a bit mystified.
Coach - Sunday, March 16 2003 @ 07:32 PM EST (#93346) #
Gwyn, I'll post a thread for BBFL owners later tonight or tomorrow, You should definitely pre-rank; it's good insurance against a PC freeze, an ISP hiccup or a Yahoo glitch, which are all possibilitites. Go to My Team, Edit Pre-Rankings, and all available players are listed in the middle column. You can move players to My Rankings on the right (then up and down within that box) or to the Exclude List on your left.

About 30-45 minutes before the draft, you can enter the Live Draft Room, a Java applet that will list the draft order across the top (hover your mouse over the pennants) and can be roughly divided into quadrants. A chat function is in the lower right, and you'll be able to ask questions there. The upper right is where the team-by-team results are displayed. In the upper left you can toggle between the Yahoo rankings by position and your pre-rankings. The lower left is your Draft Queue.

This is the area where you do your last-minute modifications. The player at the top of your draft queue will be selected for you if you lose your connection or don't pick in the allotted time. I forget, it's either 90 seconds or two minutes. I enter the 40-50 players I like best into the draft queue, then fine-tune that ranking constantly throughout the draft. By the middle rounds, I may have 7-10 players in the queue, and by the late rounds just a few. Depending on your positional needs and what the competition is doing, your priorities may change.

There are no special bells and whistles; I recommend you flip back and forth between Y! Rankings and My Rankings (upper left) several times during the draft -- it helps you locate the sleepers you pre-ranked, and the default rankings gives you some idea of who might be selected next at a given position. You should scroll carefully through the lower-ranked players; Charles Johnson, for example, is #824 for some reason.

To be continued...
_Jonny German - Sunday, March 16 2003 @ 09:13 PM EST (#93347) #
We now return to our regularly scheduled programming...

Here's Lee Sinin's take on the Tejada situation. It appears his RCAA formula doesn't give any credit for character or fan appeal.

A's owner Steve Schott says the team isn't going to offer SS Miguel Tejada a longterm contract. Tejada's eligible for free agency after the season and would reportedly like an 8-10 year contract.

Excellent move by the A's. Let Tejada test the open market and then see what his pricetag is going to be.

The odds are good that someone is going to overpay because the BBWAA chose to give an award to him. Then, let the other team overpay, publicly cry about it, privately pop the champagne corks about not being that team and then take the amount you would have been willing to spend on Tejada and go get some players who you can pay based on legitimate performance issues and not hype.

Or, maybe Tejada won't find what he wants in the open market and will return at a reasonable rate.

If they lose him, it's not like they'd be losing a Jason Giambi. If Giambi averages 10 RCAA a month, that would be his worst year since his 60 RCAA in 1999. Tejada has 10 RCAA--for his entire career.

Tejada's coming off a 21 RCAA season. If he doubles that--Giambi hasn't had a season that "low" since 31 in 1998.

Personally, I'm optimistic that the widespread restraint we saw this offseason will continue to a large degree, and maybe we'll even get to the point where the superstars don't all leave the small to mid-market teams. Steinbrenner may never stop spending ridiculous amounts, but that doesn't really worry me. As our esteemed Tom Cheek would say (again and again and again), "You never know what can happen in a ballgame." I'm picking the A's and Red Sox ahead of the Yankees to win the A.L. this year.
_Chuck Van Den C - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 07:22 AM EST (#93348) #
MikeJ: Is this situation any different from NFL teams releasing star players because they are over the salary cap?

Not really. The NFL salary cap is set at the same amount for every team. In MLB, each team has its own organizationally instituted cap. The A's are saying that signing Tejada would cause them to exceed their "cap" (more or less).
robertdudek - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 08:30 AM EST (#93349) #
RCAA, as far as I know, isn't adjusted for position. Which means that it is completely useless in comparing a shortstop and a first baseman.
_MikeJ - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 08:43 AM EST (#93350) #
Is a run created by a shortstop of different value than a run created by a first baseman?
_Mick - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 12:43 PM EST (#93351) #
Eric Chavez, who Peter Gammons recently referred to as a "potential Hall of Famer," just chimed in with this, proving once again the old adage "John Gizzi is right."

"For some reason, this is bigger (than Giambi leaving). He [Tejada] is so much at the center of our core. Not that Jason wasn't, but Miguel is so big for us. It's just weird to hear it."

As for the lingering question "Is a run created by a shortstop of different value than a run created by a first baseman?" ...

In one sense, of course not. A run is a run. But think about it this way ... let's say you're, oh, the Cincinnati Reds. Your 1B is Sean Casey and your SS is Barry Larkin ... no, realistically, your SS is Felipe Lopez.

Now you have your choice of Giambi or Tejada. What's a better combination ... Casey and Tejada or Giambi and Lopez?

I'm sure arguments can be made either way, but generally speaking, most teams have less trouble finding run production at 1B than they do at SS. (This is less true than it was 25 years ago.) The falloff is greater, steeper, quicker at short. So if you can get extra runs created by your SS, that is likely to help you more than getting extra runs created by your 1B.
Gitz - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 12:59 PM EST (#93352) #
Apparently Jason Giambi even chimed in ...

"They've been such a great organization. It's starting to crumble a bit. They've got Chavez next year. Where does it stop?"

Well, Jason, you're the one who started it, you jack-ass. No question Giambi was jerked around a bit by the A's. The last-minute offer the A's made him was strictly a PR move by Oakland, since they knew he was already gone. The A's have compelling reasons for not signing any of their position players -- Billy Beane's ability to find "free talent," for example, being the primary one -- but do us all a favor and shut up, Jason.

On the other hand, he is right. When will it stop? Steve Schott is a notorious tight wad; here's to him selling the team to somebody who will bump payroll up a bit.
robertdudek - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 01:33 PM EST (#93353) #
Mike J,

Yes it is of different value.

The value of a player is the differences between what that player produces and what a replacement player(s) would produce given the same role on the team. A replacement level shortstop is a far worse hitter than a replacement level first baseman. Therefore, of two hitters of comparable offensive levels, a shortstop is far more valuable than a first baseman.
_MikeJ - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 02:06 PM EST (#93354) #
I agree if the two are comparable hitters the shortstop is more valuable because he plays the more demanding defensive position. RCAA measures all players in the league regardless of position and Giambi's 75 RCAA measured against Tejada's 21 RCAA tells us Giambi is a better offensive player, regardless of position.
_Spicol - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 05:08 PM EST (#93355) #
It's obviously wrong to compare Giambi and Tejada's respective RCAAs to determine who is more valuable. We can use the stat to say that Giambi is a better hitter but the "value" of Tejada producing what he does while playing a more demanding defensive position isn't captured. Should we not compare Tejada's RCAA relative to all other shortstops to Giambi's RCAA, relative to all other first basemen? Is anybody doing this work already?
robertdudek - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 05:17 PM EST (#93356) #
Mike J

Yah so what that it tells us that. What we really want to know is who the more valuable PLAYER is. For that you have to adjust for position - and evaluated defensive contribution.


Win Shares does this best job of stats that are widely available of determining the overall value of a player's contributions.
robertdudek - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 05:22 PM EST (#93357) #
The quotes that Johnny German posted, especially this one:

"If they lose him, it's not like they'd be losing a Jason Giambi. If Giambi averages 10 RCAA a month, that would be his worst year since his 60 RCAA in 1999. Tejada has 10 RCAA--for his entire career."

... imply that RCAA is a fair way to compare the contributions of Tejada and Giambi to a team's success. IT IS MOST DEFINITELY NOT, and it's ludicrous to pretend that it is.
_MikeJ - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 07:16 PM EST (#93358) #
There's no way Tejada's defensive contribution can overcome Giambi's vast offensive superiority.
robertdudek - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 08:19 PM EST (#93359) #
Mike J,

You're missing the point.

You're going to have to adjust for position first, before you can look at defence. RCAA doesn't account for position AT ALL.

There is offensive value, defensive value and positional value in baseball. Positional value exists because a lineup of 9 men isn't a lineup of 9 hitters, but instead is a lineup of 9 men playing 9 different positions.

If you really want to compare Giambi and Tejada, you have to adjust for position AND evaluate their defence.
Gitz - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 08:26 PM EST (#93360) #

You've raised some good points, but I'm curious: who would you rather have, Tejada, Chavez or Giambi?
_MikeJ - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 08:44 PM EST (#93361) #
I'm not missing the point, Robert. I know RCAA measures offense. Having said that, it is obvious that Giambi is so superior to Tejada offensively that there is no way Tejda's superor defensive ranking can make them anywhere nearly equal.

Nevertheless, I think Schott's statements were merely the opening gambit in a long public negotiation and I wouldn't rule out Tejada's return to Oakland next year.
robertdudek - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 09:09 PM EST (#93362) #
Mike J,

In analysis, "obvious" and "no way" are not going to cut it. What you are in essence doing is taking a half-measure and eyeballing the rest. There are better measures you can use. What if it turns out that Giambi is only 8-10 runs better overall (and yes, that is very possible)? Miguel is younger so his expected future value might be significantly higher (if in fact there is only a small difference in their current value).


Right now? I'd take Chavez by a hair over Tejada. I think Chavez is a better defensive 3B than Tejada is an SS. It also seems like Chavez has a little more growth potential than Miguel. It's close between them. Tejada is most certainly one of the 15 most valuable properties in baseball right now. The fact that he doesn't miss games is a huge plus at a position like SS.

I'd rank Giambi a distant third if I were considering contracts for all 3 right now. His age is the chief factor; his bulk suggests possible injuries that might severly limit his productivity in his mid-30s. His production is great, but you can usually find a very good hitter for that position.
Gitz - Monday, March 17 2003 @ 10:05 PM EST (#93363) #
Mike J,

Tejada is not coming back. Schott wants a new stadium, or at least that's the crutch he's using, and he's not likely to get it. Until he does, he won't invest any money in the team.

Further, it would be an upset if they sign Chavez, as well; as I said, chances are quite good Chavez will hit 45 home runs either this year or next, and in that event there's simply no way they'll be able to afford him.

Robert D,

Yes, I agree with you. I like Miguel more than Chavez, but that's just a personal preference. Which is odd, because I played third base in my day, and what little power I had came when I hit left handed. Now, granted, my competition when I walked on at USC was Bret Boone and Jeff Cirillo, but I took BP with those fellas and held my own. Intellectually? My dog is smarter than Boone. But you didn't hear it from me.
_Jeff - Tuesday, March 18 2003 @ 11:12 PM EST (#93364) #
1) Stadium effects explain some of Hernandez vs. Tejada, I'm sure. But Hernandez IS underrated.

2) Simply lift baseball's antitrust exemption and we would allow the A's to move a touch southward imbetween O-town and Santa Clara, and everything would be fine. (Montreal to DC and Tampa Bay to Newark, NJ would also happen, and the latter would eliminate the Yankees' inherent advantage)

[note that I'm *not* opining in my professional capacity, for those who know what it is]
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