clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

moneyball and mulder

in this morning's comments, STLedge linked to a post-dispatch story about mulder's agent paying a visit down in florida. in the article, the agent (greg clifton) reiterates mulder's desire to stay in st louis -- prompting STLedge to remark. "I'd definitely like to see what a `good' contract offer [for mulder] would look like under this analysis, especially if the Cardinals do try to get one down before camp breaks."

good question; i'm just as curious. let's start with this premise: based on what pitchers like washburn and millwood and burnett received this past winter -- and the extension mulder's ex-teammate tim hudson agreed to last march with the braves -- you'd have to think mark wouldn't agree to any extension of less than 4 years and about $45m, something like that. at that price, he would have to provide about 22 marginal wins over the three extra years to meet mgl's $2m-per-MW definition of a "good" signing. if the cards allow that one must pay a premium for a brand-name pitcher like mulder, and raise their cutoff to $3m per MW, then mulder would be worth it at 15 marginal wins over the life of the contract.

but PECOTA projects mulder to deliver just 11.7 marginal wins from 2007 through 2010, which -- at the figures i'm bandying about here -- would cost $3.8 million apiece. so unless the cardinals' internal long-range projection for mulder is much, much more optimistic than PECOTA's, it's not even worth having the discussion. he's a terrible buy.

is there any reason to think mulder could, in fact, be worth 22 marginal wins over four seasons? absolutely. just take the last four seasons as an example: he has delivered more than 25 MW in that span. and he's pretty close even if we just extrapolate from the last two seasons, which represent mulder at less than his peak he provided 5.1 MW each year, so if he just stays at that level moving forward, he'll be worth 20.4 MW over four years.

but PECOTA thinks mulder will throw fewer innings in the years ahead (a max of 170) than he has in the past, and it sees his era hovering in the low 4.00s, with whips just below 1.400. if you believe that projection, then extending mulder is simply not an attractive option. if, by contrast, you think he can provide 200 innings a year in the 3.75 era range, then it might be worth contemplating.

the post-dispatch article also says this:

Club sources recently suggested talks with Mulder might wait on a decision to assume the option for 2007 on center fielder Jim Edmonds' contract.
so we better look at that, too. PECOTA projects edmonds to hit .269/.395/.544 in 2007, with 29 homers and 82 rbi -- basically, to repeat his subpar (for him) 2005 season. it also foresees a rather sharp drop in jimmy's value as a defender -- not a far-fetched assumption, insofar as edmonds will be 37 years old by then. but even if he suffers those declines, edmonds still projects as a 5.5 marginal-win -- ie, $11 million -- player in 2007.

and the cardinals can have him for $10m.

about a month ago, i suggested that the cardinals faced a stark one or the other choice vis-vis edmonds and mulder. it seems pretty clear which of those two players represents the safer bet. that doesn't mean a decision has already been made, but the fact that they haven't even started to talk with mulder's agent yet suggests pretty strongly that they're gonna let him test the waters. and once he does that? to paraphrase wayne hagin: you kiss him goodbye.