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Why King Felix's deal will backfire

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08:12 AM ET 02.08 | Perhaps by not trading him, the Mariners painted themselves into a corner with Felix Hernandez. They had to sign Hernandez to a monster contract. They were all-in, even knowing they would pay an exorbitant cost. ... The commitment by both the player and team is admirable, as is the passion of the fans. But get back to me in a few years, and tell me if everyone still holds the same romantic view. I'm sorry, the risk of trading Felix -- even when factoring in the possibility that the return might have been disappointing -- was less than the risk of signing him for $175 million. Yes, Hernandez has averaged 238 innings over the past four seasons, thrown a no-hitter, won a Cy Young. But consider his ERA-plus by season during that period: 171, 174, 109, 122.

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Felix Hernandez, Getty Images Felix Hernandez, Getty Images
Comment #1 has been removed
February 8, 2013  08:35 AM ET

The guy had 2 years on his contract - trade or not the real alternative was to have him play another year then decide. Personally I like how SF Giants played it with the Freak. Go through the arbitration years and then decide. They look smart now.

This length for a pitcher is tough. He is 27. They effectively signed a 29 year old pitcher to a 5 year - 27.1MM per year deal - 2 years ahead of time. The guy is going to have major innings in at that point. I really do not get it.

February 8, 2013  08:46 AM ET

I have considered King Felix's ERA plus as the article suggests and I quickly concluded that I don't even know what ERA plus is so I'm unqualified to read SI. I thought ERAs were numbers like 3.00 for a good starter, 9.00 for a Twins starter. So Felix's ERA is changing by the 100s? He must really suck. I also wouldn't know what to do with $175 million dollars so it is good I can't play baseball.

Comment #4 has been removed
February 8, 2013  08:52 AM ET
QUOTE(#3):

I have considered King Felix's ERA plus as the article suggests and I quickly concluded that I don't even know what ERA plus is so I'm unqualified to read SI. I thought ERAs were numbers like 3.00 for a good starter, 9.00 for a Twins starter. So Felix's ERA is changing by the 100s? He must really suck. I also wouldn't know what to do with $175 million dollars so it is good I can't play baseball.

Then on the other hand you have to consider his ERA minus...

February 8, 2013  09:04 AM ET

Interesting article. I wish I could get my arms around ERA+. I understand the concept but I have no idea how the stat is computed. I'm not saying ERA+ is unreliable. I just can't tell one way or another.

However, in addition to ERA+ going down, Felix's ERA has gone up significantly the last two seasons along with hits allowed per 9 innings.

February 8, 2013  09:08 AM ET

As I figured, this got out of hand! I can imagine within 5 years how many pitchers will be getting 30M a year and how many position players will be getting at least 35M a year. I still have no clue where all the money is coming from. And by that I mean how much are fans responsible for the $? I know that advertising is a big supplier but geez.....

February 8, 2013  09:12 AM ET
QUOTE(#7):

As I figured, this got out of hand! I can imagine within 5 years how many pitchers will be getting 30M a year and how many position players will be getting at least 35M a year. I still have no clue where all the money is coming from. And by that I mean how much are fans responsible for the $? I know that advertising is a big supplier but geez.....

It's TV $$$ (Texas, LAD, LAA, NYY) and revenue sharing $$ in alot cases. In some cases it's the owner saying screwing it I'm spending a ton on payroll, like the Tigers have done recently.

February 8, 2013  09:15 AM ET

They may regret this deal like the Twins have to be regretting the contract with Mauer.

February 8, 2013  09:20 AM ET
QUOTE(#8):

It's TV $$$ (Texas, LAD, LAA, NYY) and revenue sharing $$ in alot cases. In some cases it's the owner saying screwing it I'm spending a ton on payroll, like the Tigers have done recently.

Yeah, I know about all that TV money but I would love to follow the money trail. Somehow I believe it all leads to the White House...Big business, big money...the 2% will have their huge portion of the meal while the rest of us continue to fight the crumbs left laying around. Sorry, I didn't mean to get political on this thread but if you really think about it...follow this Hernandez money trail and you will see what I'm talking about.

February 8, 2013  09:26 AM ET
QUOTE(#9):

They may regret this deal like the Twins have to be regretting the contract with Mauer.

Tigers will be in the same boat with Verlander. You will have to pay him just as much, you really have no choice.

February 8, 2013  09:29 AM ET
QUOTE(#4):

Era Plus is like Milk Plus from A Clockwork Orange...read a few statistics and you're ready for a little of the old ultra violence, my droog.

I go with the basics that were on back of the baseball cards I collected when I was a kid. Served me well then and serve me just as well now.

Comment #13 has been removed
Comment #14 has been removed
February 8, 2013  09:36 AM ET

Felix's ERA (plus or minus) is not the issue!!! The issue with the M's is that they has very little offense and are going to move the outfield fences in this year!!! Until the M's go out and get some hitting "power" to provide Felix with some runs, he will continue to win only 13,14,13 games like he has the last three years. IMO this was a bad deal for the M's, because now it limit them money wise, to go out and get the power that their offense needs!!!!!!

February 8, 2013  09:37 AM ET

Yesterday, it was reported that this was the "right move." Today it's a deal that will backfire.

February 8, 2013  09:41 AM ET

Felix has already created 38.3 WAR for the M???s worth $191.5MM based on $5MM per WAR (It???s current value is probably a little higher and will be even more so when gets paid the first dollar on his extension.) So far the team has paid him about $60MM so he has already earned about $130MM in surplus value. There is a very low probability that Felix will not more than earn every dollar he will have been paid in his career by the M???s.

Additionally, as with the Yankees and A-Rod the M???s will most likely buy insurance against any medical reason ending his ability to pitch for them.

According to Wendy Thurm of Fangraphs the M???s current regional TV deal is worth $45MM a season. Their viewing market covers all of Washington, northern Oregon, most of Idaho and Alaska and western Montana. They along with all 29 other teams will start getting an additional $25MM in revenue from the new MLB national rights sales next year, taking that up to about $50MM a season. That total of $95MM a year next year will about cover their current payroll, including Felix???s. When they renegotiate their regional deal in 2015 (if not before) their media revenues should be close to Texas but not at the level of the NY or LA teams.

February 8, 2013  09:43 AM ET

Felix has already created 38.3 fWAR for the M???s worth $191.5MM based on $5MM per fWAR (It???s current value is probably a little higher and will be even more so when gets paid the first dollar on his extension.) So far the team has paid him about $60MM so he has already earned about $130MM in surplus value. There is a very low probability that Felix will not more than earn every dollar he will have been paid in his career by the M???s.

Additionally, as with the Yankees and A-Rod the M???s will most likely buy insurance against any medical reason ending his ability to pitch for them.

According to Wendy Thurm of Fangraphs the M???s current regional TV deal is worth $45MM a season. Their viewing market covers all of Washington, northern Oregon, most of Idaho and Alaska and western Montana. They along with all 29 other teams will start getting an additional $25MM in revenue from the new MLB national rights sales next year, taking that up to about $50MM a season. That total of $95MM a year next year will about cover their current payroll, including Felix???s. When they renegotiate their regional deal in 2015 (if not before) their media revenues should be close to Texas but not at the level of the NY or LA teams.

February 8, 2013  09:48 AM ET

For what it is worth ERA + examples on retired pitcher below: (Note to be in the top 10 in baseball for ERA + a pitcher needs approximately 140)

Career Numbers:
Randy Johnson 136
Roger Clemens 143
Pedro Martinez 154 - Highest Retired ERA+

Definition - ERA+ is........

Adjusted ERA+, often simply abbreviated to ERA+ or ERA plus, is a pitching statistic in baseball. It adjusts a pitcher's earned run average (ERA) according to the pitcher's ballpark (in case the ballpark favors batters or pitchers) and the ERA of the pitcher's league. Average ERA+ is set to be 100; a score above 100 indicates that the pitcher performed better than average, below 100 indicates worse than average.

For instance, if the average ERA in the league is 4.00, and the pitcher is pitching in a ballpark that favors hitters, and his ERA is 4.00, then his ERA+ will be over 100. Likewise, if the average ERA in the league is 3.00, and the pitcher is pitching in a ballpark favoring pitchers, and the pitcher's ERA is 3.00, then the pitcher's ERA+ will be below 100.

As a result, ERA+ can be used to compare pitchers across different run environments. In the above example, the first pitcher may have performed better than the second pitcher, even though his ERA is higher. ERA+ can be used to account for this misleading impression.

 
February 8, 2013  09:54 AM ET
QUOTE(#19):

For what it is worth ERA + examples on retired pitcher below: (Note to be in the top 10 in baseball for ERA + a pitcher needs approximately 140)Career Numbers:Randy Johnson 136Roger Clemens 143Pedro Martinez 154 - Highest Retired ERA+Definition - ERA+ is........Adjusted ERA+, often simply abbreviated to ERA+ or ERA plus, is a pitching statistic in baseball. It adjusts a pitcher's earned run average (ERA) according to the pitcher's ballpark (in case the ballpark favors batters or pitchers) and the ERA of the pitcher's league. Average ERA+ is set to be 100; a score above 100 indicates that the pitcher performed better than average, below 100 indicates worse than average. For instance, if the average ERA in the league is 4.00, and the pitcher is pitching in a ballpark that favors hitters, and his ERA is 4.00, then his ERA+ will be over 100. Likewise, if the average ERA in the league is 3.00, and the pitcher is pitching in a ballpark favoring pitchers, and the pitcher's ERA is 3.00, then the pitcher's ERA+ will be below 100. As a result, ERA+ can be used to compare pitchers across different run environments. In the above example, the first pitcher may have performed better than the second pitcher, even though his ERA is higher. ERA+ can be used to account for this misleading impression.

Hmm... See comment 12 -- 4192jc

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