Table of Contents

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More on judging deals at the time they are made

Fantastic interview with Chris Antonetti that talks a lot about how the Indians evaluated risk prior to inking Travis Hafner. It's very relevant to my last post about problems with post-hoc analyses. Here's an excerpt:

So then, you must feel perfectly good about that whole process.

Yeah. There are obviously different degrees of outcomes in any decision you make, and I think what we try to look through and look back on the process, and how complete and how effective the process was, irrespective of the outcome. You could have a very good process and still bad outcomes. I'm not saying that's necessarily the case in Travis' case - again, our expectation and our belief is that he's gonna come back and with his physical issues behind him will go back to being a very, very productive major league hitter.

Well ... come on, I think you could say that it has not worked out at least on the medical side the way you hoped it would.

Oh, certainly, so far, that's correct, yeah.

So then, would it be fair to say that, with the management team currently in place, if faced with the exact same set of circumstances again, you go ahead and sign that same contract?

With the information we had at that point? Yeah. Yep. I think that's fair to say.

So from the day you signed the contract until now, a season and a half later, realistically, the contract that that player could command on the market has gone down precipitously, and yet you would look back at that and say, "There's nothing about that experience that would make us change our process at all."

With the information we had at point, no. Yes, I would say that. I would say that's correct. We are comfortable with the process we had to arrive at that decision.

I also thought that this last bit was an interesting comment.

But you've concluded that the process was as good as you thought it was?

And as good as we could have done with the information we had at that point. I think you can get into bigger questions about team building, about committing significant dollars in a market our size to a player at that end of the defensive spectrum. That's a different strategic question than what we thought of the process arriving at the decision and the risk associated with signing Travis to a long-term deal.

Interesting point about market size & player type. I guess you can make the argument that a guy at the far right of the defensive spectrum (1B or DH) is riskier simply because all of his eggs are in one basket. A shortstop might decline offensively, but still provide defensive value. If a 1B/DH doesn't hit, they have no value. That said, offensive projections are more reliable than defensive projections, so that might counter things a bit. Neat idea, anyway.

FWIW, I still think the Reds need to buy out Votto ASAP while he can still be signed for a massively below-market contract. :)

Hat tip to Tango.