Thursday, May 20, 2010

How to improperly run a team with a huge payroll

The Angels, so far this season, have been underwhelming. And while much of the blame can be placed with the tepid offense, the bullpen has been shockingly unreliable. The bullpen, this year, is making these salaries:

Brian Fuentes: $9,000,000
Fernando Rodney: $5,500,000
Scot Shields: $5,350,000
Kevin Jepsen: $415,000
Jason Bulger: $418,000
Brian Stokes: $435,000
Trevor Bell: $400,000
Bobby Cassevah: $400,000

That's $21,918,000 committed to a bullpen which has been decidedly below league average this year. Fuentes and Shields, in particular, have combined for some of the worst relief appearances in recent memory, neither having a 2010 season where they should be getting paid for their services. Fuentes has been worth an astonishing NEGATIVE 1.9 million dollars thus far, and Shields should have paid the Angels 1.1 million dollars for his 11.1 innings this season. Two guys, combining for over 14 million dollars in salary, are providing less value than your typical AAA relief pitcher.

The real problem, though, is that there's no real options to fix the problem. You can't just throw away $14,000,000 because the players aren't (nor have they ever been) worth their salaries. And apparently, the farm system can't provide even semi-reliable arms, with Stokes showing off a -0.3 WAR this season, and Bell is sitting on a goose egg for his WAR, which, frankly, is better than most of his peers.

Again, I'm calling for front office leadership changes. Reagins has consistently shown an inability to adequately assess talent, and his problems are made worse by Scioscia's unwillingness to move around arms in his bullpen to suit their strengths. The Angels need to stop with oversized contracts to mediocre players and concentrate on utilizing trades and the farm system to acquire low-priced talent in the next two years. Otherwise, it's going to look a whole lot like the early '90's.


Rob said...

I agree the situation is bad, but how do they go about fixing it?

I'm not sure they would have done much better had they elected to not spend the money. Shields was going to finish his contract in an Angels uniform, and there simply weren't enough credible players in the minors to make up the slack. (Exception: Darren O'Day. Why, why, why?)

Saxon Baird said...

A number of holes in your post...

First off, Cassevah and Bell are making league minimum and are recent call-ups from the minors. Not to mention, decent prospects, so I think you shouldn't even take their salaries into consideration.

Secondly, we got Stokes from the Mets in a trade. So i am pretty sure that the Mets are picking up the rest of his salary. Although, I know we are still picking up GMJ's. However, if your going to talk about the salary in the bullpen, then you should nullify his salary.

Third, Shields lead the league in 2006, 2007 and 2008 with holds. Before his injury problems he was solid. I might be mistaken but I am pretty sure we re-signed him before he went onto the DL last that can't really be blamed either.

Rodney and Fuentes though? Eck.

maxwell said...

If we're going to exempt Stokes' salary from the payroll, as Saxon suggests, then you should also take into account the $5.35M we are still paying Speier this season to not play with us.

Last I looked, we had sunk $26.3M into our bullpen this season.

I don't think a team should even sink more than 10% of payroll into either the bullpen or the bench.

Marcus said...

Aside from fixing Scioscia's bullpen management, which is awful, the solution might be to STOP OFFERING BLOATED MULTIYEAR CONTRACTS TO RELIEVERS.

That, and start looking at bringing up arms from the farm with more regularity. Starting a player's service clock only bothers me when it's someone important, but finding serviceable relief pitchers in ANY farm system should not be as difficult as the Angels are making it look.