Right now, the potential transaction du jour to talk about is Albert Pujols in a Cubs uniform. He's been one of the best players on the planet pretty much since he came into the league, so it's hard to deny that some team somewhere won't come up with something like $30 million per season to get him. There are many folks on Twitter who believe the Cubs should be the team that gives it to him.
MB21 at ACB estimated Pujols' projected value assuming a standard value of Wins Above Replacement, inflation and Albert's assumed decline in production:
Using the Fans 7.5 projected WAR in 2011, $4.5 million per win, 7% annual increase, -.5 WAR per season, I get Pujols being worth $223, $250, $275, and $297 million over 7, 8, 9, and 10 seasons beginning in 2012.
So if Pujols actually becomes a free agent, the Cubs actually make a run at him, and actually sign him to something like 10 years and $280 million, there will be all sorts of reactions.
Most people who don't want to be "Negative Nellies" who ruin optimism will take a wait and see approach, as in, "We'll have to see how Pujols ages to determine whether the Cubs paid too much for him." Some will immediately cry about how the Cubs are idiots because they didn't learn from the mistake of signing Soriano to such a long, expensive deal.
Both groups are not viewing a transaction appropriately. How can fans judge a transaction with the benefit of knowing how things actually turned out, when the person who made the move clearly did not have that same ability. Why do we expect our general managers to have some sort of crystal ball to foresee circumstances that are completely unknowable?
On the flip side, how can we judge a deal based on an event that has absolutely no impact on the current deal? How does the failure of one contract make any future contract more or less likely to be succesful?
Let's say you go to Vegas and are playing blackjack. Let's say you get dealt a fourteen and the dealer is showing a five. The smartest, most statistically viable option for the player is to stay on fourteen, thus guaranteeing that you don't bust when the dealer is quite likely to bust and thus making a fourteen good enough to win. Staying is the right move. Based on the information available at the time of the decision, any action besides declining a card is a mistake.
Ideally, the dealer will proceed to turn over their down card to show a ten or face card, and then they will draw another large card to bust. Then everybody at the table exchanges high fives and life is good. Unfortunately, sometimes a dealer ends up making his hand. Sometimes the dealer pulls out a bunch of twos and threes to salvage their hand and make you a loser. That does not make your decision to stay a wrong one. Sometimes correct strategy fails.
|If this player had made the correct decision at the time of the decision, the dealer would have drawn the 6 and gotten 21. This lucky result doesn't make the decision any more correct than if he had lost.|
Basically, Hendry stayed on fourteen like the guy in the photo and the dealer made his hand to make it a losing situation.
Well, let's say you get pissed off at the blackjack dealer for pulling that 21 out of his ass when he should have busted and you wander over to the roulette table to win your money back. You look up at the past results that are posted and notice that the last ten spins of the wheel have all landed on a red number. Surely, you think, it can't possibly land on a red space for an eleventh time in a row! I should put my money on black!
Now, aside from the fact that gambling is always a poor decision because you can't beat the math, this particular reasoning to make the decision is entirely wrong. The odds of a black result on a standard American roulette table is 47.6%. The odds of a black result on that same table after the previous ten results had all been red is 47.6%. Nothing about the past results makes any sort of difference in how the future result will turn out.
Why would Soriano's injuries and subsequent precipitous decline have any impact on whether Pujols would similarly decline? There is just as good a chance that Pujols beats the projections as there is that he underperforms his projections. In fact, given that Pujols' value comes overwhelmingly from his bat, he is probably easier to project than someone like Soriano, whose value was based on his bat and speed.
I know we are fans and we are prone to our emotions. I am no different. Deep down, I do truly believe that the Bartman incident occurred because my buddy in Seat 106 yelled to a beer vendor one pitch prior, "Hey Steve! I'll see you at the World Series!" I'm certain that the Harry Caray commemorative pin was the reason the Cubs went on a 15-0 run when I wore it to the ballpark in 1998. To this day, I remain convinced that I caused the 1984 NLCS collapse by accepting a $5 bet with a junior high friend that the Cubs still wouldn't make the World Series when they were up two games to none.
But when these kinds of deals get done by whoever is in charge of the team we love, lets at least try to understand the circumstances involved. Otherwise, we are just the idiot at the table splitting kings all night.