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View Full Version : Evaluating Trades With Hindsight


jeremyb1
04-16-2004, 12:38 PM
Originally posted by hold2dibber
Come on, Jeremy, that's ridiculous. I'm sorry, but GMs have to be evaluated in hind sight. Regardless of whether a trade made sense at the time, if it turns out to be a disaster, the GM is (rightfully) held accountable. When you're making trades, the very point is to prognosticate the future performance of the players involved. If you're wrong, you're wrong and will be (and should be) held accountable. If Miguel Olivo goes onto a hall of fame, 15 year career with the Sox (as unlikely as that was at the time of the trade), that trade was a winner for the Sox, even if it was a reasonable trade for Beane at the time.

Originally posted by rahulsekhar
One of the roles of a GM is to project the future value of various prospects to value them either for trading away or acquisition. So GM's do have to "see into the future", in fact that's one of their primary jobs: figuring out what a guy (veteran or rookie) will do in their lineup/stadium/city/organizational style.

If he's going to get raked over the coals for dealing guys like Wells/Fogg who hadn't accomplished much when they were dealt, he needs to get kudos for taking a strong player at a relatively deep position that has medim impact on games and turning that into a strong player at a much shallower one that has a much greater impact on games. (And by your statement above, how could KW have been expected to know Wells would improve since he can't look into the future?)

The problem is that when evaluating trades what we're trying to do is assess the worth of a GM and the intelligence of the thinking behind a trade. If you want to evaluate only who got the better deal then you can use 20/20 hindsight to see who the deal worked out best for. However, if you're going to make any statements about the quality of a trade it is unfair to use 20/20 hindsight.

Some future events in baseball are predictable based on the body of knowledge and baseball wisdom that exists where as like winning the lottery, some events are based completely on luck and depending on the degree of luck can sometimes be virtually unpredictable. If you want to look at Kip Wells, that was a situation where his future performance was predictable to a certain degree. We're looking at a starter who was still very young, loved by scouts, showed definite flashes at times, and dominated in the minors en route to a fast promotion to the big leagues. Everyone involved in the trade had to admit he had considerable potential. Knowing this, KW decided to take that risk and bet that he would not become a good pitcher. KW coudln't see into the future and know for sure that he would make it but he knew there was a considerable chance and knowingly took that risk. For that he can be held responsible.

Another example is the David Wells trade. KW can be held responsible because 1) Sirotka outpitched Wells the season before but KW wanted the "veteran presence" anyways 2) Wells was old and overweight with a bad back. It was clearly conceivable he would face injury problems.

An example I often use of a move where circumstances could not be predicted is this: the Angles just signed Garret Anderson to a contract extension yesterday. Anderson is a picture of good health, he's never spent considerable time on the DL. Tommorow a crazed fan hops out onto the field and attacks Anderson, breaking his leg in three places and effectively ending his carreer. Should Bill Stoneman somehow have predicted the crazed fan's attack? No. How could he had. That does mean the deal worked out poorly for the Angels but it does not mean it was a poor deal.

The intelligence behind trades must be evaluated with the information the GM had at the time of the deal. Its unfair to assume that any time a GM trades for a player that does well and deals and player that does poorly, he expected those exact results. If KW deals for a fringe prospect at the hopes of filling out the roster at AA and the prospect becomes an All-Star, it is unfair to assume KW knew that would happen when he made the trade.

mweflen
04-16-2004, 12:45 PM
Hindsight or foresight, the Ritchie deal was pure stupidity.

Fogg and Lowe, sure.

Wells and Lowe, sure.

But all three? Insanity.

nodiggity59
04-16-2004, 12:51 PM
KW wasn't wrong about Kip Wells; he became the decent pitcher he looked like he would be.

He was wrong about Ritchie.

Way wrong.

hold2dibber
04-16-2004, 01:07 PM
Originally posted by jeremyb1
The problem is that when evaluating trades what we're trying to do is assess the worth of a GM and the intelligence of the thinking behind a trade. If you want to evaluate only who got the better deal then you can use 20/20 hindsight to see who the deal worked out best for. However, if you're going to make any statements about the quality of a trade it is unfair to use 20/20 hindsight.

Some future events in baseball are predictable based on the body of knowledge and baseball wisdom that exists where as like winning the lottery, some events are based completely on luck and depending on the degree of luck can sometimes be virtually unpredictable. If you want to look at Kip Wells, that was a situation where his future performance was predictable to a certain degree. We're looking at a starter who was still very young, loved by scouts, showed definite flashes at times, and dominated in the minors en route to a fast promotion to the big leagues. Everyone involved in the trade had to admit he had considerable potential. Knowing this, KW decided to take that risk and bet that he would not become a good pitcher. KW coudln't see into the future and know for sure that he would make it but he knew there was a considerable chance and knowingly took that risk. For that he can be held responsible.

Another example is the David Wells trade. KW can be held responsible because 1) Sirotka outpitched Wells the season before but KW wanted the "veteran presence" anyways 2) Wells was old and overweight with a bad back. It was clearly conceivable he would face injury problems.

An example I often use of a move where circumstances could not be predicted is this: the Angles just signed Garret Anderson to a contract extension yesterday. Anderson is a picture of good health, he's never spent considerable time on the DL. Tommorow a crazed fan hops out onto the field and attacks Anderson, breaking his leg in three places and effectively ending his carreer. Should Bill Stoneman somehow have predicted the crazed fan's attack? No. How could he had. That does mean the deal worked out poorly for the Angels but it does not mean it was a poor deal.

The intelligence behind trades must be evaluated with the information the GM had at the time of the deal. Its unfair to assume that any time a GM trades for a player that does well and deals and player that does poorly, he expected those exact results. If KW deals for a fringe prospect at the hopes of filling out the roster at AA and the prospect becomes an All-Star, it is unfair to assume KW knew that would happen when he made the trade.

In a vaccuum, I suppose what you say is true. But it's entirely unrealistic. You can't possibly know exactly what a GM was thinking when he made a trade - did he think his new acquisition had the potential to be a star, or did he think his new acquisition was going to be a solid back-up? It's impossible to say.

But in any event, I think, that we're really talking about two different issues. I'm really talking about evaluating trades and you're talking about evaluating GMs. If Miguel Olivo turns into Roy Campenella and has a hall of fame career, there's no way around it - KW, under those circumstances, can rightfully be said to have fleeced Beane on that trade. Was it luck? Who knows. But with that said, that doesn't mean that it wasa stupid trade by Beane or suggest that it didn't make sense at the time. He took a risk (in trading a middle reliever for a very young and talented - but green - catcher) that actually produced dividends in the short run, even if, in the end, the player he gave up was "better" than the one he obtained.

MHOUSE
04-16-2004, 01:16 PM
Wells - bad
Like Jeremy said, was the "veteran prescence" enough reason to deal a talented pitcher like Sirotka? I think Wells' injury concerns were enough reason to back off. However, KW is lucky that Sirotka hasn't pitched in the majors since while we at least got like 15 starts out of Wells. When you look at what happened overall, this trade turned out as a wash, unless Sirotka would've stayed healthy with us.
Ritchie - bad
THREE pitchers for one "veteran" with marginally good numbers in the NL? It was clear that KW tried too hard in these trades to get a veteran pitcher that put us over the top. He had good intentions, but he gave up way too much. Wells and Fogg could have been decent relievers or #4-5 starters.
Durham - good
Jon Adkins is filling a role in the bullpen that we needed and still might contribute even more. We probably wouldn't have re-signed Durham anyways and I'm glad he got to at least one World Series with the Giants.
Marte - STEAL
Matt Guerrier is now in the Twins farm system and hasn't done squat while Marte was arguably the best lefty reliever in the AL last season.
Koch - jury out
If Neal Cotts becomes a 20-game winner, then this deal will be looked upon more favorably. Foulke had worn out his welcome as our closer and Reinsdorf never would've paid the money for him that Boston did this past offseason. Koch could still rebound.
Everett/Alomar - good
KW gave up six prospects to rent the two for the second half of the season. Royce Ring now seems like a wasted first-round pick, but none of the players we lost were or are expected to contribute at the Major League level anytime soon. Everett and Alomar played well for us and filled the needs that we had. Unfortunately we couldn't resign either in the offseason, but the draft picks are good enough compensation to refill our minor league system.
Jimenez to Reds - good
At least we got rid of DJ and got a prospect to put into the Schoeneweiss trade with Anaheim. DJ will put up good numbers for Cincy, but he's still a slacker and a crappy ballplayer. Good riddance.
Schoeneweis - good
I still feel that Gary Glover might've been a decent set-up man had Manuel managed him better. We needed another left-handed starter, so Glover was the man to go. Scho will help us this year while Glover isn't pitching at the majors league level yet. As far as I know, the prospects that went both ways were marginal at best.
Uribe - wash
Miles might become an allstar hitting in Coors Field, but he and Uribe would've had similar roles on this team in 2004. This trade is a wash.

SoxxoS
04-16-2004, 01:16 PM
Originally posted by nodiggity59
KW wasn't wrong about Kip Wells; he became the decent pitcher he looked like he would be.

He was wrong about Ritchie.

Way wrong.

True, but I think the goal of the GM is to correctly evaluate the player YOU are going to recieve...that is much more important.

For the Pirates to pull a fast one over us is just flat embarrassing.

thepaulbowski
04-16-2004, 01:22 PM
Originally posted by SoxxoS
For the Pirates to pull a fast one over us is just flat embarrassing.

It seems like KW pulled a fast on Pittsburgh with the Marte deal.

kermittheefrog
04-16-2004, 07:28 PM
I agree with Jeremy up to a point. I think knowledge on hand at the time of the deal is the right way to evaluate a trade. If Kip Wells and Josh Fogg had flamed out but Sean Lowe became the best starter in baseball, I couldn't be as upset with the Ritchie trade because no one in the right mind could imagine Lowe becoming the best starter in baseball. However, everyone knew Kip had potential. That said, if a GM consistently makes "intelligent" moves that don't work out practically, there is a problem. The bottom line is winning games, it's nice to have cutting edge methodology but not necessary to win (see Brian Sabean). Right now Kenny has a shaky history of making the right decisions regardless of whether you look at simply the results or if you look at the methodology.

jeremyb1
04-16-2004, 07:38 PM
Originally posted by hold2dibber
In a vaccuum, I suppose what you say is true. But it's entirely unrealistic. You can't possibly know exactly what a GM was thinking when he made a trade - did he think his new acquisition had the potential to be a star, or did he think his new acquisition was going to be a solid back-up? It's impossible to say.

You're absolutely right here for the most part. My statement was that trades should be evaluated based on the information GMs have at the time of deals. However as fans, we don't have access to some of the insider information GMs have such as scouting reports and knowledge of player's makeup. However, I don't think that's a good enough excuse to assume that the GM always knew something we didn't that allowed him to predict shocking, highly unlikely future turns of events.

Also, like you said we can't understand a GMs intentions at the time of a trade. We can't be sure if a GM picks up a pitcher to be long reliver and he ends up being the ace of the staff or whether he picks up a guy that appears to be a long reliever when he really intended him to be the ace of the staff all along. However, I think its insane to suggest that any time a GM trades for any kind of prospect he knew exactly how good he was going to be in the future. There's so much luck in baseball that you can't factor luck out of the equation when evaluating trades. Its unfair to give a GM credit for acquiring a superstar if he in fact appeared to be merely a utility player at best to the GM and nearly all other observers at the time.

The bottom line is yes, you're correct we can't ever know for sure. However, I don't think that's a legitimate reason to give the GM the benefit of the doubt 100% of the time and assume he knew whatever positive events traspire were going to transpire at the time of a trade or to hold him responsible for anything negative that happens to an acquisition. If no fans, commentators, or other GMs predicted that Loaiza would be the best starter in baseball its unfair to think KW is omniscient and thought he was signing the best pitcher in baseball to a minor league deal. Much more likely he thought he was signing a guy that could be a good pitcher at best not an all world pitcher.

lowesox
04-16-2004, 09:52 PM
Sorry guys, but I think this thread can be simplified. The way to evaluate a GM is by wins. A GM who can build a world series/playoff winner is good, and anything else is, well, excuses. Things go good and bad for every team in baseball. A good GM should be a bit of a fortune teller, and more than anything else, they should be able to rise above.

rahulsekhar
04-16-2004, 10:06 PM
Originally posted by jeremyb1


If no fans, commentators, or other GMs predicted that Loaiza would be the best starter in baseball its unfair to think KW is omniscient and thought he was signing the best pitcher in baseball to a minor league deal. Much more likely he thought he was signing a guy that could be a good pitcher at best not an all world pitcher.

If no one thought Elp was an ML pitcher & KW thought he could be good (not great), he gets kudos for being right when everyone else is wrong. Same in other deals.

Analogy: Barry Zito was a mid-late rd pick IIRC. No one thought him worthy of anything higher, so did Oakland get lucky? Heck no, Beane saw something and made a great pickup. In that instance, he did better thyan the rest of the league. Same applies to trades. In Marte, Olivo, ELo KW saw something and appears to have been right. In Koch, Ritchie he thought he did and was wrong. He thought he didnt see anything in Kip and was wrong.

And for the record on David Wells: he was not injury prone when acquired by KW. He was going on 5 yrs in a row w/ 200IP abd 30+ starts. All with the same weight and back. By your logic, there was no info available to suggest that that would be the year he broke down. He's also had 200+IP/30+GS the 2 years since being in Chicago. We got the 1 bad year.

Rex Hudler
04-17-2004, 01:27 AM
My thoughts to MHOUSE's post......


Wells - bad - I'd call this one a wash.. But have no problem giving KW credit for a good effort, even though I was never thrilled with getting D. Wells.

Ritchie - bad - Terrible trade from the get go. Somehow Brian Giles was missing when this trade was announced. Maybe KW just forgot to write his name down. LOL

Durham - good - This trade accomplished two things. It purged payroll and gave young players an opportunity to play. Unfortunately, Jiminez didn't work out, but this trade was as much about giving young guys a chance to play on a team going nowhere, than getting something back for Durham.

Marte - STEAL - I agree, but don't be surprised if Guerrier doesn't turn into an effective pitcher yet. Don't be surprised if he isn't pitching against the Sox this year. Still a great trade for the Sox.

Koch - jury out - I consider this deal a failure for one reason. KW made a decision not to stick with Foulke and not to give him another opportunity to close after finishing 2002 strong. That was his mistake. You could argue (and some did) that Koch's decline was predictable too, but I think KW deserves the benefit of the doubt on that. He got Cotts and gave up Valentine, who has great stuff, but still battles command. Coincidentally, that has been the knock on Cotts as well.

The bottom line on this deal is that he got Koch to put the Sox into the next level of teams, and that did not pan out. I criticize him (and did at the time) for giving up on Foulke, but based on that decision, won't argue with what he was trying to accomplish. It just didn't work out.

Everett/Alomar - good - I disagree here. At the time, I thought Alomar was a good trade and Everett was a dumb one. I don't think the difference between what Everett gave us and what Rowand could have was near worth the players we gave up. I thought Alomar's veteran presence and ability to do the little things well would have a positive effect on the team. I may have been correct, but I am beginning to question that logic. If I have to split them, I would say the Alomar deal was good and the Everett deal was not.

Sadly, we got no draft picks for losing either of them, so re-stocking the system will have nothing to do with this trade.

Jimenez to Reds - good - I wasn't a fan of DJ either, although he did get on base better than anyone else at the top of the Sox order.

Schoeneweis - good - Not sure I want Schoenweis, but I'm not missing Glover, Dunn, etc. either.

Uribe - wash - As much as I like Aaron Miles, I think this was a good trade. KW made the decision to go with Harris over Miles. I won't argue the merits of that decision. But once it was made, it was good to move Miles to give him a chance. To get a utility player who can backup at SS in trade for him is a good move. Miles could not have been the utility guy this year, so some move had to be made.

gosox41
04-17-2004, 02:22 AM
Originally posted by hold2dibber
In a vaccuum, I suppose what you say is true. But it's entirely unrealistic. You can't possibly know exactly what a GM was thinking when he made a trade - did he think his new acquisition had the potential to be a star, or did he think his new acquisition was going to be a solid back-up? It's impossible to say.

But in any event, I think, that we're really talking about two different issues. I'm really talking about evaluating trades and you're talking about evaluating GMs. If Miguel Olivo turns into Roy Campenella and has a hall of fame career, there's no way around it - KW, under those circumstances, can rightfully be said to have fleeced Beane on that trade. Was it luck? Who knows. But with that said, that doesn't mean that it wasa stupid trade by Beane or suggest that it didn't make sense at the time. He took a risk (in trading a middle reliever for a very young and talented - but green - catcher) that actually produced dividends in the short run, even if, in the end, the player he gave up was "better" than the one he obtained.

If you're not going to rate a trade until years after it's made then why ever fire a GM to begin with? If the Sox win 75 games this year I'm going ot be calling for KW's head again. If 5 years from now Olivo turns out to be great, I'm not going to call KW a good GM for the simple reason that he never won when he had a window of opportunity to do so. He blew it. Even if he made a couple of good trades he till failed to wait to do his job.



Bob

rahulsekhar
04-17-2004, 08:45 PM
Originally posted by gosox41
If you're not going to rate a trade until years after it's made then why ever fire a GM to begin with? If the Sox win 75 games this year I'm going ot be calling for KW's head again. If 5 years from now Olivo turns out to be great, I'm not going to call KW a good GM for the simple reason that he never won when he had a window of opportunity to do so. He blew it. Even if he made a couple of good trades he till failed to wait to do his job.



Bob

Depends on the trade. Trades for prospects need to be evaluated based on their performance. IMO GMs need to be given 4-5 years to properly assess their performance. If the Sox win 75 games, KW could be fired on that timeline for their performance. That could still make the Olivo deal a good one, but his overall tenure a bad one.

Evaluating managers on individual years makes sense - their job is to win now. GM's jobs are much longer term and they need to have a long term and short term view. So both need to be factored into a proper evaluation.

jeremyb1
04-17-2004, 09:17 PM
Originally posted by rahulsekhar
If no one thought Elp was an ML pitcher & KW thought he could be good (not great), he gets kudos for being right when everyone else is wrong. Same in other deals.

Analogy: Barry Zito was a mid-late rd pick IIRC. No one thought him worthy of anything higher, so did Oakland get lucky? Heck no, Beane saw something and made a great pickup. In that instance, he did better thyan the rest of the league. Same applies to trades. In Marte, Olivo, ELo KW saw something and appears to have been right. In Koch, Ritchie he thought he did and was wrong. He thought he didnt see anything in Kip and was wrong.

And for the record on David Wells: he was not injury prone when acquired by KW. He was going on 5 yrs in a row w/ 200IP abd 30+ starts. All with the same weight and back. By your logic, there was no info available to suggest that that would be the year he broke down. He's also had 200+IP/30+GS the 2 years since being in Chicago. We got the 1 bad year.

I agree KW gets credit for bringing ELo on board, it's purely an issue of how much credit he gets. I don't think its right to assume that he knew ELo was going to win 21 games so I don't think its right to give him insane credit for that deal. Again the difference is if you're talking the actual effects of the trade of the intelligence of the move. The move was incredible good and it was also a smart move but if KW really knew Elo would win 21 games and no one else would sign him to a major league deal then it'd probably be just about the most intelligent move in the history of the game.

In retrospect you're right about Wells. However, I think that his age and conditioning were more than enough reason to use extreme caution. It was clearly going to catch up with him at some point.

gosox41
04-17-2004, 11:26 PM
Originally posted by rahulsekhar
Depends on the trade. Trades for prospects need to be evaluated based on their performance. IMO GMs need to be given 4-5 years to properly assess their performance. If the Sox win 75 games, KW could be fired on that timeline for their performance. That could still make the Olivo deal a good one, but his overall tenure a bad one.

Evaluating managers on individual years makes sense - their job is to win now. GM's jobs are much longer term and they need to have a long term and short term view. So both need to be factored into a proper evaluation.

But a manager and GM knows whether a team realistically has a chance to win or if they are rebuilding.

If you have a realistic chance to win now, then every move you make should be focused on now. Worry about tomorrow later.

If you're rebuilding or out of contention then I can understand building for the future. But when the time is right you need to go for the kill.


Bob