Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Reviewing Ichiro trade

 Sorry for a long hiatus since my first post was published, but my English is still too clumsy to write many words/sentences/paragraphs at once and also most of my free time has been devoted to learning Python programming instead of doing baseball research for a past couple of months. Hopefully I'll resume writing by the end of this year (I plan to resume once the regular season or playoff comes to the end or updated Retrosheet is published). Until then, I may post some mini-entries on non-analytic, miscellaneous topics mostly on NPB. These posts will be less for discussion or research than solely for improving my inept English skill even a tiny bit of amount.

 The New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners came to the agreement on swapping Japanese legend Ichiro Suzuki and two minor league players (and cash consideration).

 In terms of the Mariners' point of view, this trade obviously makes sense. A player who is under contract year and has struggled to reward its salary attached with his contract brings not much of a value to a team in the cellar and in no way to get a playoff birth. The organization is at a transition period and replacing aging, high-salaried player who isn't supposed to be in the rebuilding plan with some promising prospects is a reasonable move as usual. With the new CBA implemented, trading an aging player, especially for not being expected to get about $12M yearly contract, doesn't get as much return as before, but if they can create any value out of (almost) no value, they should definitely take the value.
 On the other hand, the Yankees decision is a bit questionable. It's already highly likely that they will play in October (out of 46 teams winning 57 or more on their first 95 games since 1995 season, 37 teams were actually able to reach playoff and if you hand one more ticket to a team barely missing that bar, only 2 teams wouldn't find their way to that achievement) and Ichiro is going to leave after this season. And they carry Nick Swisher at one corner and Curtis Granderson at CF, both producing higher values than Ichiro and considered to continue to do so going forward. In LF though, Brett Gardner has been put on disabled list and they've got over it with Raul Ibanez, Andrew Jones, and DeWayne Wise. Replacing a contribution of the trio with Ichiro will add another win or so for the rest of season, which is not what the Yankees desperately look for. Even on the playoff, with Ichiro the team could only add about 1% or so to win the world-series championship compared to a situation without him. Then, things move on to a relative evaluation.

 The two prospects hold out to the Mariners were D.J. Mitchell, who is at #16 on BPro's organization ranking according to Kevin Goldstein and not on top 10 on BA and Danny Farquhar, who is not on both BPro and BA ranking (top 20 and 10, respectively). While I don't know how much these prospects add to a team in terms of equity, let me presume Mitchell is equipped with $3M value and Farquhar with $1M. So basically, the Yankees used $6.25M to greet Ichiro on the roster. Again, $6.25M to add one more win isn't what the Yankees should try to do.

 These figures are not rigorously estimated and for whatever things like a marginal ticket sale or Japan-flowed income, so-called "Ichiro-brand", you can factor in that to argue. But keep in mind that my numbers are rounded off to a bit favor the Yankees (actually, I think half a win upgrade is more close to the reality than one win gain) and if you like to argue on those statements, show your own well-thought, reasonable numbers rather than just express summary opinion. Finally, these sort of estimates are wrapped in huge uncertainty world and easily vary here and there.