Grabow Deal Near Completion

Bruce Levine is reporting that a deal with John Grabow should be completed today for two years and nearly 7.5 million. I had expressed my indifference in the past over resigning Grabow. Oh sure, his ERA has been pretty good the last two years, but with a BB/9 rate near 5 last year and 4.15 for his career, I don't think anyone would really miss him if he got away. I was asked in the comments yesterday how I'd handle this situation and here was my response.

I offer Grabow arbitration and wait to see if he takes it...chances are
he will because a team doesn't want to give up a draft pick for a
set-up man(ed. note - Grabow is classified as a Type A free agent). That'll cost the Cubs probably an extra $1M this year, but
if Ricketts is serious about propping the farm system, he'll roll the
dice(ed. note - when I say Ricketts, I mean they'll offer to cover Hendry's budget if Grabow wins a big arbitration case). Maybe the Cubs get lucky and a team with a protected pick signs
him or one that signed a few other FA's and the Cubs score some extra
draft picks. If he does sign with another team, I wait until February
when inevitably some lefties will still be around and sign one or two
on the cheap. I imagine you can find a few on the trade market for Jake
Fox who will likely be traded, since he's out of options and in Lou's
doghouse.

In general,  I could care less if the Cubs have even one lefty in
their pen. It's a stupid unnecessary crutch for a manager so he can
make safe moves that the media won't blast him on. The Angels did
plenty good for awhile with their pen with no lefties (before Oliver
and Fuentes). Better off finding good relievers that can get guys from
both sides of the plate and you'll trust for an inning or longer. Cubs
had a great LOOGY in Ohman and couldn't figure out to use him.1

And I don't mind Grabow, he can get guys from both sides of the
plate, I just think's just slightly above average and I'm also not sure
Lou will use him properly, which is a full inning at a time, rather
than a match-up lefty.

Now when I wrote that, I figured Grabow could get anywhere from $4-$5M in arbitration case due to the 2.84 and 3.36 ERA's the last two years, near the top in holds, a handful of saves and Type A free agent classification. That would be a hefty raise from the $2.3M he made in 2008.

But I  looked a little further at contracts signed by set-up men and relievers last year and I probably guessed a little high. 

Jeremy Affeldt - 2 years/$8M total

Juan Cruz - 2 years/$6M total (there's a $4M 2011 option or $500K buyout, so $6.5M guaranteed)

Kyle Farnsworth - 2 years/$8.75M (there's a $5.25M 2011 option or $500K buyout, so $9.25M guaranteed plus incentives that could earn him more)2

Joe Beimel - 1 year/$2M

Will Ohman - 1 year/$1.35M

Latroy Hawkins - 1 year/$3.5M

I think Affeldt might be the best comp for Grabow, coming off two good seasons before 2009 and in his first year of free agency and both pitchers don't show much of a disparity between getting righties or lefties out. So at the high end, we could expect Grabow to maybe get $4M in arbitration.

Considering that assumption and considering that relievers tend to be rather volatile from year-to-year, it would seem like a good idea to not tie yourself up to a multi-year offer if you don't have to unless you feel you're getting a pretty good discount or certain that Grabow could deliver two good seasons in a row. Now we don't know the contract specifics quite yet, but at an average of $3.75M per year, Hendry looks to be paying the top of the scale and doing it for two years now, when he probably could have gotten away with just one by offering arbitration. Now maybe the deal will be one of Hendry's famous back-loaded deals as the Cubs have money coming off the books next year, but I fail to see how the Cubs aren't doing anything but paying at the top of payscale range here for Grabow's services.

So then can the Cubs safely assume that he'll continue to pitch well the next two years? Well I certainly don't think you can assume that at all. His career ERA is 4.05 and his career FIP is 4.18 including 4.54 in 2008 and 4.20 in 2009 amidst the two seasons that will have earned him this new deal. That doesn't instill a lot of confidence in me that he can repeat what he's been doing, although that's not to say that he won't. It just indicates to me that Grabow is probably nothing special amongst his fraternity of relievers and not someone that warranted a multi-year deal. And when you have a player that isn't particularly special and have the opportunity to sign him to a one-year deal instead of two, I think you take that opportunity. Of course, the Cubs could have lost Grabow to free agency, but the potential of getting two extra draft picks is worth that risk.


1 - speaking of my left-handed bullpen crutch rant, this was Grabow's 2007 entry in Baseball Prospectus which I found on his PECOTA page. Now Grabow isn't what many would consider a LOOGY, but getting lefties out will be very much one of his primary roles on the team.

You can make a strong argument that no team needs a LOOGY. Mike
Scioscia won 92 games and a division title in 2004 without having a
lefty reliever on his team. LOOGies do more harm than good because they
end up facing just as many righties than lefties as a result of walks
and pinch-hitters, and take up precious roster space without providing
enough innings

2 - Points and laughs at Royals

 

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Comments

Wittenmeyer tweets deal is done...

cst_cubs: Grabow, Cubs reach agreement on 2yr deal.

WOW! Another mediocre middle reliever! That goes great with our below average first baseman and our overpaid and underachieving outfield. Now all we need is a shortstop, second baseman and some starting pitching and we will be able to compete in our own division! I guess we are "rebuilding" again. How about getting a real closer, getting rid of Z and finding some WINNERS!!!

http://mlb.fanhouse.com/2009/11/18/scouting-notes-...

Lowe makes $15M in 2010, Bradley $9...be neat if they split the difference there on 2010 and then Cubs take the rest of Lowe's contract.

Braves did have Sheffield for awhile, so I don't buy that they wouldn't even consider Bradley.

speaking of Bradley, Hendry still laying the groundwork that he could return...

http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=2...

"A lot of people have had worse exits at the end of the year than [Bradley did] and they return," Hendry said. "There will be a lot of things that change personnel-wise over the winter, I'm sure, and the goal is to do the best we can to put a good club on the field by Spring Training. Until people aren't here, as a general manager, I approach it like they are here."

His approach is to not insinuate that a player is gone no matter what. He has to leave at least a thread of persuasion out there that if they won't release him if they cannot move him. My guess is that Hendry sucks at poker.

Any news on the Koyie Hill contract extension?

The Fangraphs guy says the Grabow deal is "a waste of cash", which I find ridiculous given how his website is "a waste of time"

According to Fangraphs, Grabow was worth $3, while Jose Guillen was worth $74 million last year.

well-reasoned argument Paul....

Fangraphs article was pretty much how I feel....

Not sure where you found those numbers. Says that Grabow was worth $1.0 and Guillen was negative $8.8 last year.

http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stat...

No offense, but this is assinine:

"You can make a strong argument that no team needs a LOOGY. Mike Scioscia won 92 games and a division title in 2004 without having a lefty reliever on his team."

There are 8 playoff teams a year. So one team of eighty in a decade made the playoffs (and didn't go anywhere in them)is some kind of compelling evidence that LOOGY's are required? It's actually evidence of the opposite.

Grabow isn't a LOOGY, anyway. How often are there playoff teams where the highest salaried guys are two first year Arb guys (Marmol and Marshall)?

Just looking at innings and R/L splits also negates the concept of leverage. Who was the #1 ranked non-closer in terms of expected wins above replacement? Left handed setup guy Matt Thornton. Who was #3? Jeremy Affeldt.

The FIP numbers are scary, though.

yeah, Grabow isn't  a true LOOGY...on the other hand, he's getting this deal right now because the Cubs want two lefties in the pen, not because he's necessarily the best reliever the Cubs could get... hence my inclusion of that excerpt. And it's also just a general rant of mine...

and i believe the Angels were doing the no lefty in the pen thing for awhile before and after 2004.

If the Angels did it for the entire decade, the point still holds.

Where does Fangraphs get their WAR values from? BP says that Grabow was worth 3 wins last year... If 5.3 wins of Derrek Lee is worth $23.9 million, then 3 wins of Grabow is worth $13.5 million.

Who are the relievers that the Cubs are going to get who are better than Grabow for 2 years at $3.75 million per.

Your thing about reliever volatility doesn't make any sense by the way. Volatility can go both ways, and Grabow isn't getting his deal based solely on one year.

I thought everyone ignored BP's WARP levels cause the replacement level was off...and I get a 1.2 WARP1 for Grabow last year.

that being said, I wouldn't put much stock into Fangraphs salary figures for pitchers or catchers...

Your thing about reliever volatility doesn't make any sense by the way.
Volatility can go both ways, and Grabow isn't getting his deal based
solely on one year.

well maybe not to you...

Grabow could be awesome next year, he could be just be average or worse. I don't think it's much higher than a coin flip based off his peripherals and doesn't warrant a 2-year deal imo at the top of the payscale for middle relievers.

BP fixed their replacement level problem like a year ago. I assume that the Fangraphs stuff is from BP because WAR is a BP developed concept. The problem is that BP guys themselves use the XWLR (or whatever) for relievers, not WAR, but so Fangraphs is using the incorrect metric according to their source.

The issue of BP using context weighted metrics for relievers, but not for starters and positioned players is still unresolved.

Are you saying that Grabow's true talent level is represented by his FIP and not his ERA? That's a valid argument, but to just say "relievers are volatile, therefore don't give them multi-year deals" doesn't make sense. In short, if he's worth $3.75 for a year, he's worth $7.5 for two. If he has a 5 ERA next year and a 2 ERA in 2011, that would be volatility, wouldn't it? It would also mean that the two year deal was the correct decision (over a 1 year deal).

WAR explained

http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2009/6/20/919779/great-explanations-of-wins-above

similar concepts, different ways of getting there....

and I don't recall ever using WAR in this discussion fwiw...

Are you saying that Grabow's true talent level is represented by his
FIP and not his ERA? That's a valid argument, but to just say
"relievers are volatile, therefore don't give them multi-year deals"
doesn't make sense. In short, if he's worth $3.75 for a year, he's
worth $7.5 for two. If he has a 5 ERA next year and a 2 ERA in 2011,
that would be volatility, wouldn't it? It would also mean that the two
year deal was the correct decision (over a 1 year deal).

I'm saying the Cubs shouldn't sign Grabow to a 2-year deal when they could have him at one. And the risk of losing him to free agency is outweighed by the getting draft picks for him and another John Grabow isn't hard to find. I'm saying that he's not worth $3.75M, but that is the going rate based off his ERA the last two years, so fine, the Cubs can afford that, doesn't mean they need to put themselves in the same position in 2011 when they didn't have to, in case he does suck in 2010 or breaks his arm or destroys his shoulder or tears up his ankle getting up from a Lazy-boy.

Is my argument, don't sign any relievers to multi-year deals because they're all volatile? No...there are some, albeit few imo that are probably worth it. John Grabow doesn't pass that test.

Thanks for the link. Fangraphs WAR is a veritable mindfield of wrongness.

Apparently their $Values are also incorrect.

"fangraphs article is pretty much the way I feel"

"and I don't recall ever using WAR in this discussion fwiw... "

nowhere in the Fangraphs article does it use WAR....

What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing......

way late on that joke...

Good God, y'all.

I love that song.

OK, I'll take your word for it.

maybe so...I'll wait for the compelling article proving its wrong before completely dismissing myself.

I've seen many, many more arguments against WARP than WAR, fwiw...

there nice to use as a lazy short-hand and if I want something that captures offense and defense.

 

"And the risk of losing him to free agency is outweighed by the getting draft picks for him and another John Grabow isn't hard to find. "

OK, stop there. When you start talking about volatility then you're undermining and confusing your own argument.

confusing to you apparently...

Mature and articulate...

No offense, but this is assinine:

"You can make a strong argument that no team needs a LOOGY. Mike Scioscia won 92 games and a division title in 2004 without having a lefty reliever on his team."

There are 8 playoff teams a year. So one team of eighty in a decade made the playoffs (and didn't go anywhere in them)is some kind of compelling evidence that LOOGY's are required? It's actually evidence of the opposite.

I think you meant "aren't" instead of "are" in your last question? If so I think your premise needs to be more broadly applied. One team in 80 does not show that LOOGYs are not required. Correct. But no one has shown that only one team in 80 were LOOGY-less.

That is, I don't think anyone has yet shown here that LOOGYs are or are not required. That would be a broader study. But that the Angels apparently went without one and were successful suggests another team may be able to do likewise.

Yes, that was a typo. But the point remains, that one team in 80 or as Rob G went on to whine one team in 14 isn't a compelling argument. You get 25 men on the roster. Probably 16 of them are without a doubt major contributors. With the remaining 9, you probably have 3 who are just there to finish out hopeless games and 6 who are there to help you win games. Having a reliever, left handed or right handed who can help you win those games (used properly in high leverage situations) is a good thing.

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/18933...

he says the deal is worth at least $7M....

Nic Cage thinks that Hendry isn't very good with a Budget.

Bob Nightengale now of usa today says Bradley still being considered by Rays

http://twitter.com/BNightengale/status/5863270431

has another article about a possible 3-way deal of moving Jackson to Mariners and Morrow to Tigers...pretty good deal for everyone involved, well except maybe the 3rd team.

Props to Rob G. Lincecum wins the Cy.

Wainwright gets most 1st place votes, so it does appear Lincecum wins due to the split between Carpenter and Wainwright.

well-deserved, same could be said for Wainwright or Lincecum..

I do wonder how many one-run and tied games Lincecum had to pitch in compared to Carp and Wainwright?

Noting that Linci was caught using ganja, could it be said he might have been "hungrier" than the other pitchers?

Booo.

Hendry gave both Howry and Eyre 3 year deals back in 2006 (both in the 3/9 range if I recall)...so at least he's learned setup relievers don't warrant 3 year contracts (based on how Lou wrecked JH's Stevie Eyre experience).

So I'll chalk this as a small improvement in the Hendry learning curve... for those of us who are looking for a wildflower growing in a toxic dump.

I wonder if Jim Hendry has explored buying up Randy Wells arbitration years?

5/40 range with a NTC should probably get it done. Maybe a player option year 6 in the 11-12 range?

$1 million
$2 million
$3 million
$5 million
$8 million

That's $19 milion of the next 5 years of Wells. $40 million would be

$6 million
$7 million
$8 million
$9 million
$10 million

That may be a bit much.

i think that was sarcasm on aaronb's part...

I hope.

It was

Missed, it. Your player evaluations are a bit hard to keep track of.

Because they are always spot on?

now that's sarcasm.

http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2009/11/19/the-lvp...

A scout once told me that Bradley is the only high school player he ever scouted who hit a home run and did not have a single teammate come out to congratulate him.

Someone should introduce Posnanski to a guy names Alfonso Soriano.

http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2009/11/marmo...

Cubs source shoots down rumor though.

We need to make a distinction between Grabow's former role (and the value attached to that role) and the role that Hendry sees him performing under this contract.

Grabow apparently will be used as the primary 8th inning set-up man, facing both righty and lefty hitters. He may also be used as the closer when Marmol goes through one of his control lapses. Since Marmol and Guzman both come with question marks, Grabow serves as the only proven member at the back of the pen.

If this is indeed the case, then Grabow has a heightened value to Hendry and the Cubs than that of a normal set-up man, and certainly more than a run-of-the-mill LOOGY or middle reliever.

The role shouldn't have any bearing at this point.

I doubt that Hendry is giving Guzman or Marmol Free Agent closer money at this point.

The reason I've bitched about it, is that it is yet another example of Hendry bidding against himself. He had the hammer. He can go year to year forever with Grabow. Make a guy earn his money. Don't be such a vagina at the negotiating table Jimbo.

Marmol continues to implode, Grabow takes over the close roll gets 38 saves and has a 2.85 ERA leading helping the Cubs to the playoffs.

What's Grabow's 2011 salary?
*****
Before Grabow has to accept arbitration he gets signed by the Yankees who have also signed Lackey and Holliday.

Gaub and Parker can't hold down the setup role, and our bullpen is a mess all year. We then have to trade Brett Jackson for a setup man at the deadline.
*****

There's risk on both sides of the guaranteed contract equation.

Or the much more likely scenerio

Grabow reverts back to career norms.

Continues to walk 5 per 9 and Lou completely loses faith in him

Grabow gets the Stevie Eyre treatment of mop-up work, While Lou bitches that we don't have a reliable lefty.

Jim Hendry eats the 2nd year of the deal and trades Grabow somewhere for a middling A ball "Prospect/suspect"

These things are possible as well, but it's nonsensical to automatically dismiss any other scenario from the realm of possibility.

"hungrier"...
---
In close Cy Young voting, Lincecum was one toke over the line?

Ta da boom.

Angels, Dodgers and Rays announced their 40 man roster additions this afternoon, so Cubs moves should be announced shortly, not sure when the last minute is though.

Per Muskat tweet: Heilman traded to Snakes for 2 prospects!

WOO-HOO!!

CarrieMuskat: #cubs deal Aaron Heilman to D-backs for two Minor League prospects

Yay! are they real prospects or just two bodies?

Seriously, who cares?

Considering that I asked...do you still need an answer to that question? But thanks for taking the time to not answer.

My point, much too obtuse for your seven functioning synapses to grasp, is that anything, even nothing, is better than paying Heilmann next year.

We got the next Mickey Mantle and Joe Jackson in the trade. Celebrate.

You're awesome.

That's sarcasm.

But don't you want to know how I finished in my fantasy leagues?

Oh good, I was hoping there was more. Does the asshole treatment work in your daily life as well? or does the cowardice of anonymity drive you?

I'm anxiously awaiting your next expression of wit.

I haven't had the asshole treatment, what did they dip you in?

How about next time instead of jumping to conclusions, you just, you know, be cool? You're the one who picked this fight.

Totally worth the wait.

I am glad you liked it. I have to feel sorry for the people who come across your path on a daily basis. Or where you live do people they enjoy people with martyr complexes who swear at you because they're too thick to get a joke and then act like they're the aggrieved party? Yeah, you must be a barrel of monkeys.

Go ahead and post your name, address and put your Facebook page to public and I'll do the same.

Your summary of our dialogue is perfect. I can neither add nor subtract from it. You are the Revelation of internet dialogue! I'll just leave it with a complete acceptance of your views.

I'm going to pass for now on your request for Facebook friendship. While I'd welcome your wit in all aspects of my life, I feel that my friends, who prefer martyr-types, might not understand your level of brilliant humor. Neither am I particularly interested in a new penpal. I sponsor several dozen Kenyan children and can barely keep track of my 'pals' as is! Thank you for requesting my friendship, though.

Well, at least we know who is being an ass with the safeguard of his internat anominonity now.

Please let us all know when you emerge from your mom's basement with the breathtaking details of your latest fantasy league championship.

Guys -- chill.

Fox says the Cubs obtained minor  leaguers Scott Maine and Ryne White in return.

Link not working yet

And the Heilman move clears 40 man roster space

PWSullivan: Cubs sent Heilman to D'backs for prospects instead of non-tendering him. http://bit.ly/drHzv
---
The Cubs sent reliever Aaron Heilman to Arizona on Thursday for a pair of minor-league prospects.

Heilman didn't figure into the Cubs 2010 plans, and was likely to be non-tendered by the club next month.

In return, the Cubs received left-handed reliever Scott Maine, who went 4-5 with seven saves and a 2.90 ERA at Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno, and first baseman Ryne White, who hit .266 with six homers and 52 RBI at Class-A Visalia.

 

I have a feeling we're going to end up a couple pitchers short this year.

Randy Wells #3 Starter

Ted Lilly injury

Mitch Adkins and Jeff Eyechart as the #6 and 7 starters

Guzman,Grabow,Marmol as the backend of the bullpen

Just doesn't seem like much margin for injury or error.

HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT, Cubster?!!

In return, the Cubs received left-handed reliever Scott Maine, who went 4-5 with seven saves and a 2.90 ERA at Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno

I wonder if we just traded for the next John Grabow.

everybody is so testy here lately

I like both moves, but I hope it's not Hendry easing us up for his wtf move (Pat Burrel)

Submitted by Cubster on Thu, 11/19/2009 - 3:25pm.
Angels, Dodgers and Rays announced their 40 man roster additions this afternoon, so Cubs moves should be announced shortly, not sure when the last minute is though.

==================================

CUBSTER: MLB and minor league reserve lists must be submitted to the MLB office by close of business tomorrow (Friday). Also, all players on an MLB 60-day DL must be reactivated no later than the day after the end of the MLB Free-Agency Filing Period, which is also tomorrow. (I believe about five clubs still have players on the 60-day DL). And any MLB Article XX FA who signs a major league contract after today gets an automatic NTC through June 15th, even if the player re-signs with his former club.

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