What We Need Now Is A Big Helping Of Moneyball

This whole Carlos Correa situation makes me fall back on one of my favorite baseball philosophy movies “Moneyball”. Here’s a short scene with Brad Pitt playing the Oakland A’s GM, Billy Beane and Jonah Hill playing the super nerd, Peter Brand, he brings in to help him work through the loss of Johnny Damon, Jason Isringhausen and Jason Giambi.

Peter Brand: “There is an epidemic failure within the game to understand what is really happening. And this leads people who run Major League Baseball teams to misjudge their players and mismanage their teams. I apologize.”

Billy Beane: “Go on.”

Peter Brand: “Okay. People who run ball clubs, they think in terms of buying players. Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins. And in order to buy wins, you need to buy runs. You’re trying to replace Johnny Damon. The Boston Red Sox see Johnny Damon and they see a star who’s worth seven and half-million dollars a year. When I see Johnny Damon, what I see is… is… an imperfect understanding of where runs come from. The guy’s got a great glove. He’s a decent leadoff hitter. He can steal bases. But is he worth the seven and half-million dollars a year that the Boston Red Sox are paying him? No. No. Baseball thinking is medieval. They are asking all the wrong questions. And if I say it to anybody, I’m-I’m ostracized. I’m-I’m-I’m a leper. So that’s why I’m-I’m cagey about this with you. That’s why I… I respect you, Mr. Beane, and if you want full disclosure, I think it’s a good thing that you got Damon off your payroll. I think it opens up all kinds of interesting possibilities.”

The baseball world is down the block and around the corner from where they were a decade or two ago on how metrics are pulled and applied to the game. But often, the guys who pull the trigger on mega-contracts are trying to put fannies in the stands or are trying to appease an owner who is still “medieval” in his thinking.

When the Astros lost George Springer, they did not replace his run production by bringing in GS 2.0. They knew offensively that they had a good shot of offsetting his loss by filling his spot with someone who was OK. They had an ace in their back pants in knowing that they would have Yordan Alvarez return and that there was no way that Jose Altuve, Yuli Gurriel, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman would all be as bad to mediocre as they were in 2020.

Similarly, when they’ve had to absorb the recent losses to their pitching staff (Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Collin McHugh, Brad Peacock, Roberto Osuna, Will Harris, et al.) they did not panic and throw money around like a major league owner (lol) or throw in the towel. They combined bringing in some reasonably priced options and pairing them with internal resources. Need a closer? Here’s Ryan Pressly. Need some back end of the bullpen options? Welcome, Ryne Stanek and Kendall Graveman. Need to replace three Cy Young candidates? Come back from TJ surgery, Lance McCullers. Learn some control Framber Valdez. Jump up from the minors Jose Urquidy and Luis Garcia.

If Carlos Correa leaves, as is likely at this point, it is not the end of the world. Can they replace him offensively? They are not expected to replace him completely at a reasonable price. But do they need to replace his offense completely? No, they don’t. What if they have a SS who is 60-70% as effective as he was? Is there anywhere else to pick up the offense? In 2019, Alex Bregman scored 122 runs, hit 37 doubles, 41 HRs and knocked in 112 runs. In 2021, Bregman, who was fighting leg injuries and a wrist injury requiring surgery, scored 54 runs, hit 17 doubles, 12 HRs and knocked in 55 runs. A little swerve back to the norm might fill the gap right there. Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez were good to very good last year, but they were only 24 – there could be a bit more to milk from them as they mature. Chas McCormick and Jake Meyers showed spurts of sound playing in their first major league experience. They certainly could do more.

Carlos’ defense? Now that is something they will not replace totally, and they just have to minimize the damage as they go along.

Anyways, the key is that $35 MM per year for a decade or so can be used other ways – on extensions for Tucker and Alvarez, more bullpen help, more rotation help, maybe even more international help. Carlos helped win many games, but they also won a lot of games when he was under the weather. Not signing him opens up all kinds of exciting possibilities.


86 comments on “What We Need Now Is A Big Helping Of Moneyball

  1. I read your post twice, Dan, and it was even better the second time.
    I’ve said enough about the Correa situation, but, on the 17th, I’ll probably talk more about replacing him.
    In the meantime we’ll delve into your ideas.


    • Thanks OP – I truly don’t always know how good my writing is but sometimes I do and I felt this was a good subject. I had this idea back during the playoffs and put it on my calendar to pick it up now.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Joel Reuter also had Moneyball on his mind. Ironically we were tied with the A’s for 6th best on this list:


    As for our CF’s Chas, Straw & Myers, they had a total net value of +$38.0 million compared to Springer, who had -$4.5 million.

    Based on the methodology of 1.0 WAR = $8 million, if Correa gets a $32 million per year salary, and he produces his historical average of 4.87 WAR every year, he would have a net value of +$7.0 million per year. He might do that for the next 5 years, but doubtful that he would sustain that for the next 10 years.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. 8 days of Covid has my mind so jumbled and my concentration so frazzled that I can’t even come up with a parody on MONEY [Pink Floyd], on ‘Money Changes Everything’ [Cyndi Lauper], or even MONY MONY [Tommy James].

    As you were.


  4. I read this headline and panicked.
    “Cardinals Want To Bring Back Luis Garcia, Add Rotation Arm.”
    I then realized that Luis and Garcia are very common names and there can be several with the same name.


    • This probably goes along with Moneyball. But can you imagine what a terrible contract that Colorado signed to pay somebody $34.5 Million to go play someplace else.

      “$34,570,500 owed to the Cardinals through 2026 as part of the Nolan Arenado trade”


      • Well, there still could be some value there if the Cardinals win more games than expected each year against the other teams in the NL West. It’s crazy to think that Colorado has at least 3 of the worst ten contracts ever handed out – Arenado, Hampton, and Neagle. If I looked into it further they might even grab some more spots.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I was going to write a parody in Mr. Bill’s honor with the Beatles – Money (That’s What I Want) for Carlos Correa – but I found I did not need to change any words…

    The best things in life are free
    But you can keep ’em for the birds and bees

    Now, give me money (That’s what I want)
    That’s what I want (That’s what I want)
    That’s what I want, yeah (That’s what I want)
    That’s what I want

    Your lovin’ gives me a thrill
    But your lovin’ don’t pay my bills

    Now, give me money (That’s what I want)
    That’s what I want (That’s what I want)
    That’s what I want, oh yeah (That’s what I want)
    That’s what I want

    Money don’t get everything, it’s true
    What it don’t get, I can’t use

    Now, give me money (That’s what I want)
    That’s what I want (That’s what I want)
    That’s what I want, yeah (That’s what I want)
    That’s what I want, whoa

    Liked by 1 person

  6. OK! Here is my plan.
    1. Put your best prospect starting pitching in your rotation at Sugarland. For goodness sakes, let go of guys that won’t ever pitch for your club.
    2. Because you retained Dusty Baker, who loves RLRLRLRL in his lineup, I have a lineup replacement for Correa. Sign Kyle Seager to play 3B for 2 seasons and move Alex Bregman to SS. This let’s Pena get more time at SS in AAA. He needs it. The lineup is:
    Altuve 2b
    Tucker RF
    Bregman SS
    Alvarez DH
    Gurriel 1B
    Brantley LF
    McCormick CF
    Seager 3B
    Maldonado C
    Aledmys Diaz is your utility guy for 2022, his last year under contract and Pena is next in line for 2023 and for injured infielders this year.
    3. Sign a TOR pitcher for a multi year deal to match with LMJ, Framber, Urquidy, Garcia, and maybe Javier. Yes, that’s a six man rotation. So what?
    4. Wait until somebody comes along and needs Odorizzi in their rotation and trade him. Make sure you get back a hard throwing reliever in return. Don’t argue with me, just do this.
    5. Send Montero to free agency and sign another good reliever to stack the bullpen. Make it someone who is good, throws hard, wants a ring and who wants good money for his services but not crazy money.
    6. Quit messing with Tyler Brown as a starter and put him in the bullpen where he belonged in the first place.

    Liked by 2 people

    • 1. I sure agree .

      2. Seager might be available for two years. But we’d have to accept that he’s declining at this point. He’ll hit homers, strike out and play good D. Our team is getting older. I’m more concerned about Bregman being able to get around our huge shortstop environment, based on the degree of metrics we employ. I’m hoping spring gets close and one of the shortstops on the FA list is still hanging around and becomes willing to take a short deal.

      3. Yes to the TOR guy. And if Verlander is the best option and willing to come back, forget everything I said last week. Who would come in better prepared?

      4. You’ll never get me to argue against an Odorizzi departure. It’s a good situation in that he does not want to be here and the club does not have much confidence in him. Plus he’s too outspoken for this organization.

      5. I’d like to stack with Graveman.

      6. As evidenced by his 2019 season at Vanderbilt, that’s the Tyler Brown we want.


    • All great points – wouldn’t quibble with that lineup.

      I think Matt Duffy fits the Astros more than Seager. He is a league average defender. He gets on base at a much higher clip, and strikes out way less. He is a little bit younger. No, he isn’t going to hit 35 homeruns (heck he may not hit 5) – but he also doesn’t have to monopolize time, he is cheaper and lets you get Diaz in more often. I think he is a near perfect fit for this roster, and can play multiple positions if he has too.

      Duffy is no 2-3 year answer at third, and admittedly Seager might be, but Duffy replaces Diaz role on this team after next year, fills the gap for a year in a not very deep third base class, a lot of pluses. Someone is going to end up overpaying for Seager or Taylor.

      Another option – offer the A’s Odorizzi, 2 minor leaguers of their choice and salary offset on Odorizzi for Chapman. We will probably have to pick up 50% of Odorizzi’s salary and all of Chapmans – which will end up around 13 mil, but you are bringing in a 28 year old that has multiple gold gloves, power, and takes a lot of walks.

      If they do move Bregman to SS there is no great answer at 3B. They all have holes. Either too many strikeouts, not enough power, something that will undoubtedly frustrate us at times over the year.

      The little bit of stuff I’ve heard though suggests to me the Astros are in the market for a SS and are not planning on moving Bregman. Maybe they just won’t say that out loud with Correa still unsigned.


  7. I like your plan OP! And….you’re right let go of pitchers that will probably never pitch for the Astros. So who’s on your wish list for another sure fired hard throwing starter?? Bregman alluded to the fact that he’s not keen on switching back to short stop, but Yuli wasn’t keen on switching from 3rd to first, soo I figure Bregman will play where Click says he plays!
    Speaking of Yuli…..he and his wife are expecting baby #3 next spring!


      • Gausman had three solid years in a row now. Rodon was cut and then signed a bargain basement contract. He was superb this year. Verlander has a QO. If he turns it down, #1 Gausman and #2 Rodon. That makes Verlander #3 to me in that group. (However, at this time next year if Gausman tanks, I will swear that I never said this.)

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Do you recall last offseason when we talked about signing Eddie Rosario? The general consensus from the cheap seats was that as a hitter he was too flawed to fit in the Astros’ approach and his defense in the outfield wasn’t really acceptable for the cost. I don’t disagree with that assessment, but consider that had we brought him in we wouldn’t have had the money to sign Brantley. Would we have still made the postseason? I think we would have done so. I do wonder if Atlanta still would have made the postseason. They won the division by 6.5 games over Philly. Atlanta only played 161 games to Philly’s 162. Entering their final 6 games the teams looked like this:
    ATL 83-72
    PHI 81-75
    Atlanta swept a three game series at home against Philly and made the final 3 games not matter, but imagine if the reverse had happened. Atlanta might not have made it into the playoffs. They might not have advanced to the WS without Rosario’s performance. Even in the WS, the Astros probably win game 4 if Rosario doesn’t make that stab catch at the wall on Altuve.

    So we can sign Correa and expect solid offense and great defense if he stays healthy. We can also expect to have a lot less room to upgrade the roster in other areas. Will Correa be able to improve on his 2021 to offset that opportunity cost loss? I say his offensive output can still go up, but defensively it would tough to add value.

    Liked by 1 person

    • All I remember about last year at this time, was a player would be named. Then it would say 3-5 teams were interested. The Astros seemed to always be one of them. Then NOTHING ever happened. So not to accuse anyone, but I think Agents put out a lot of bunk to attempt to drive the price up.
      All teams not in LA or NYC have budgets.


  9. About my comment above:
    *Seager hit like an All-Star in MMP in 2021. He left Seattle with a very bad taste in his mouth and would have 19 games to show Seattle they made a mistake. He is also projected to bounce back in 2022. His pull power plays big time in MMP
    * I don’t have a problem with resigning Graveman. His new curve might play even better if MLB adopts a tackier ball.
    *The Astros might be doing due diligence on Starling Marte because of a lot of interest in their young, controllable center fielders. Remember, last week was the GM meetings and the Astros might have had some inquiries or offers on their CFers.
    * I wasn’t pushing the trade of Odorizzi because of problems with him. His biggest problem with the Astros might now be in Arizona. I just want his salary and that of non-tender candidate Montero, to free up room to sign the guys we need to go to the WS in 2022.


    • I wonder how interested Kyle Seager is in playing next to his brother next year. There has been more media speculation that Correa is heading to the Bronx than stories linking Corey Seager there. I think Cashman is leading us astray and will sign one or both Seagers. Alternately, the Cubs and Phillies have also been suggested as landing spots that could accommodate both. Unless no market materializes for Kyle, however, I doubt Click has the financial flexibility to add him to the roster, but he’d certainly improve the offense or offset some of the loss of Correa.


  10. I think Click has to sit on his hands until Correa and/or JV turn down the QO. He has proposals out there for almost $40 million for next year. Now I expect both of them to turn them down, but until they do, he has to sit idle on any big contracts for other FAs. (And the Astros may not be looking at any of the big FAs.)

    Liked by 2 people

      • What a surprise! (Sarcasm font here). I watched a video this weekend about the players not wanting JV to throw out that 1st pitch in the WS. In fact it was mentioned that the players don’t really care for him being on the team. So I wouldn’t look for him being here next year. As for CC the betting man says I want 6-1 odds that he won’t be here either. So Crane can look to spend his money elsewhere. The money has him going to Detroit, the Mets, or Boston.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Can’t remember where I heard or saw it but there was talk of moving Bogaerts to 2nd and CC at SS. Pretty potent infield if that comes to fruition.

        Liked by 1 person

    • One thing I’ll say about Correa, wherever he goes, people will quickly realize he’s the best defensive shortstop in the game. I don’t care what the metrics say. The first time he throws someone out at the plate from leftfield, it will be on Sportscenter all day.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Most of the advanced metrics don’t show Correa as a gold glover either. Some of them show multiple seasons of below average defensive play.

      They showed the same thing on Jeter. He is right. He just isn’t aware of his own shortcomings in fielding metrics?

      Correa is Jeter with more power and a worse K rate. They are both tall, lanky shortstops that I think sometimes height limits their abilities to get to the rangiest, Omar Vizquel type balls. The thing is if you look at something like Inside Edge – fielding wise he is incredible, because Correa makes almost every play he gets too – just UZR suggests he doesn’t get to as many as Adam Everett. That’s fine. Everett, at his best, was on par with the best defensive SS’s ever. Correa just needs to be good defensively, which he is, and let his offense do the talking. It helps that he has one of the best arms in baseball at SS. I’m not completely convinced Cooperstown is in his future but I am convinced he thinks it is and his agent wants that kind of contract – and you have to love confidence sometimes in baseball that confidence leads to greatness.

      To me BLUF – he has never hit 30 homeruns. He has never had 100 RBIs. I’ve never been one to believe average decides alot but he is a career .277 hitter. He had a career year in a contract year. Happens all the time. Very good player. I wish he was the Astros SS for the next 15 years, but not at 35 million a year, because he isn’t a 35 million a year player. If the Astros give the contract, fine, he is good. It’s monopoly “not my money” anyway. But what if Alvarez or Tucker win a MVP in the next 3 years, two guys very capable of that? What if a Tucker, who was arguably as good or even better than Correa as a hitter this year (in Correa’s career year), matures into a perennial 35+ 100+ guy that gets a 30 mil a season contract? Can you resign him if you are paying your SS 35 mil to hit 20 homeruns, get you 80 RBI’s, but hey, he makes those plays look great!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lots of good points Steven. I agree that the taller, lankier SS, while having a longer reach, don’t have that muscle twitch, insane range that the Vizquels had. Correa’s great arm (both super strong and accurate) means he is making lots of top notch plays and the mundane (Jonathan Villar comes to mind here for some reason…).
        His rookie season he had 22 HRs and 68 RBIs in 99 games – which is 36 HRs and 111 RBIs in 162 games (haha – 162 games). But he never got close to that. I think it is telling that he never got to 100 RBIs with the kind of lineup around him – usually a top 1 to 3 lineup.
        To me he is a very good defensive SS and between a good to very good offensive SS. That does not equate to $30 to 35 MM per year for a decade for a guy who missed so many games with injury (until he was playing for the big contract). He will get paid and I think at times his new team and fans will get dismayed….


      • Again, I don’t follow advanced defensive metrics I suppose partially due to the fact that I don’t fully understand them. I understand that some guys get to more balls. But I also see that Correa had a 2.9 DWAR at short in 2021. Nobody else came close.


  11. I made a low D in economics but I remember the chart. Everyone would eat a steak dinner if the price was $5.00. A smaller group would pay for the same steak dinner at $50. And a very few would pay $500 for the same dinner. Then at $5,000 for the same dinner, you get a couple crazies that would pay that. Baseball owners sometimes fall into the last group.


    • LOL – I read astrocolts comment, then I saw yours, then I thought, yep there is your example.

      If Syndergaard can get that, Verlander’s agent has to be excited. Syndergaard was only good at his best, not great, and has thrown 2 innings in the last 2 seasons. Is the price on Verlander heading into 3/70 area now?


  12. Off topic but there have been several comments about JV (Justin Verlander, not Jonathan Villar) and his relationship with the team and teammates. I have no inside knowledge, but we need to remember Jeff Bagwell and the World Series. He was injured most of the year and then played a little in the Post Season. The Astros lost the battle with the insurance company on the claim on his salary. That may have played into JV being told to stay away from the club. (At least that is how my memory has the story.)


  13. The deadline for accepting or rejecting the QO is today at 4:00 CT.
    Then, the deadline for setting rosters to protect players from the Rule 5 draft is Friday.


  14. I had been working from home, but this week I am starting to head back downtown twice a week.
    So….I am actually listening to sports talk on the way into work. This morning the sports talk team brought on their Spanish speaking traffic reporter to translate and dissect the Carlos Correa podcast where he dissed Derek Jeter and his 5 Gold Gloves. She was not only translating but giving her take on how serious everything was, whether he was kidding around, etc.
    So, first, she said it was obvious he came in wanting to talk about this – he asked Carlos Baerga how many gloves Jeter had won and then answered his own question and then made his point. He was quite worked up about it – it was not just a joke or side comment by him.
    The sports talk guys then discussed the ramifications and made a point that should have been obvious but had not heard anyone say it. They thought this meant that Carlos has already been told by the Yanks that they are going in another direction and this was his way of getting his anger out at them. If they were a serious bidding partner he would have never have said this.
    I agree with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. The Astros rotation is as follows:
    Justin Verlander
    Lance McCullers, Jr.
    Framber Valdez
    Jose Uquidy
    Luis Garcia
    Jake Odorizzi
    Cristian Javier.


  16. I don’t think anyone but the Astros and Verlander knew this was coming. Well, maybe Kate knew. But I think they knew this was going to happen and that’s why Verlander made it a point to wait until the last minute to reject the QO.
    What happens next? I think the Astros are going to make some moves. Some small and some big.
    Anyway, this is a good start because I’ve said since the day after the WS that we needed another TOR pitcher and that has happened first.
    Now we find out who stays on the 40-man, who doesn’t, and who the new arrivals are.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Bringing in Verlander would not stop me from going after Rodon. From what I can tell before the Verlander signing the Astros were around 55 million under the cap – Verlander’s contract makes giving Correa the money he wants, deal with arbitration, and still fill in around the corners very difficult and stay under the luxury tax. So, let Carlos walk unless his price ends up below 30 mil because his agent over estimated his worth. Guy wants Trout money without Trout production.

    Instead, go after Rodon. Make that 1-2-3 punch in the playoffs something other teams don’t want to face. I am betting 4 year/80 mil will get it done and give you flexibility to deal with arbitration, maybe sign another infielder (Duffy?) and pray to Jobu that Rodon’s arm doesn’t fall off. You can back load Rodon’s contract to help deal with numbers this season and next and let it grow when Verlander is off the books.

    If that happened a few other things – can we move Odorizzi? Can you use Urquidy as a piece to get a Chapman? Will Lloyds touch Rodon’s contract? That 12.5 mil going to Greinke hurts as well. Non-tender Montero.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The benefit of signing Rodon is that he doesn’t have to be your ace, but if he pitches like his 2021 self there will be few aces in baseball better than him. The big problem for him has been limiting walks, but his control was amazing last year He was also throwing with more velocity than earlier in his career. I’ll toss out two other names who had a turnaround in their career built around similar improvements: Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton. I would love to know what kind of offers he’s received so far, but you can be sure that Scott Bora$ is going to make sure he waits until most of the other names are off the table unless someone accepts their initial demands or is willing to obviously overpay.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Devin, the White Sox don’t think he is worth $18 million. With his previous health issues, he shouldn’t be getting a long term contract. But I would imagine the Astros would err on the side of caution.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I would sign him long term because that is what it will take. He will sign with someone for 3-4 years.

        I also wouldn’t do the contract unless it is insured, and that is certainly a business decision that I know very little of the inner workings about – but as a fan, I want a pitching staff that matches anyone else. When we lost to the Braves we didn’t get beat by a 35 million dollar SS, we got beat by a guy that took the 9th pitch he saw in an at bat, and parked it in the parking lot outside. I love Luis Garcia, I love his future, but his present is a kid without the ability to spot things, mix it up enough, and Soler had him timed. Those two foul balls the two pitches prior told me everything I needed to know about Soler seeing enough pitches on the guy. We got beat by a team with better pitching, both starting and relief pitching.

        Our lineup will score runs on mediocre pitching whether its Correa at SS, or he is replaced in the lineup by Seager, Duffy, Chapman, Diaz, or Alf. It doesn’t matter. It’s too deep. But in a WS scenario we have to scrap better against the best pitching and we must have the pitching to keep up. Rodon is an injury waiting to happen, but he is outside of Scherzer the most talented pitcher still out there.


    • I am guessing we will bring:

      Pena On Nova off (DFA)
      Dubin on Greinke off
      Bermudez on Montero off
      Joe Perez is a gametime decision (2nd round big bat, bad glove)
      Try to negotiate with Graveman
      I think we might lose YDiaz(of the Straw trade), Mike Papierski.
      Saved by injury Hansen, Manea could be overlooked.
      The Lockout looming may get other teams minding their own business, plus last 2 yrs of UDFA at $20,000 each team has rosters quite robust.


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