Another Yankee Flipper
By Ron Sen, Boston Dirt Dogs contributor and founder of Red Sox Reality Check.
Red Sox fans need not worry about tomorrow. Ticket prices won't drop a nickel because Jacoby Ellsbury (a.k.a. The Ellsbury Dough Boy) departs for literally greener pastures.
He is no more a traitor or mercenary than the next guy, just the beneficiary of a 'monopoly money' era where too many dollars are chasing too little talent. He is no more a 32 homer, 70 stolen base guy than you or I, but he is an excellent (but historically oft-injured) player cashing in at the right time.
In an era where we worship statistics, we also celebrate both cash flow and capital allocation. The Yankees have the cash flow with both expensive ticket revenue and lucrative media packages, and we can only wonder how the deployment of 153 million dollars (plus possible luxury tax considerations) pays them back over the life of the contract.
In "The Winner's Curse" economist Richard Thaler writes the following, The winner will be the person who was the most optimistic about the amount of oil in the ground, and that person may well have bid more than the land is worth. This is the dreaded winner’s curse. In an auction with many bidders, the winning bidder is often a loser. A key factor in avoiding the winner’s curse is bidding more conservatively when there are more bidders. While this may seem counter-intuitive, it is the rational thing to do…"
To carry Thaler's observations further, all one need do is consider how baseball's mega-contracts are playing out, whether they be Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and Alex Rodriquez, or those closer to home - Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and John Lackey. You don't need to be a Sabermetrician to do your back-of-the-envelope calculations on WAR or Win Shares to know that the best deal the Red Sox made was restructuring through addition by subtracting debt. Current Sox policy of fewer years at higher AAV at least allows mistakes to expire quickly, while the development system gets maximal attention. After all, it is the talented player under control at low cost that is the undervalued asset in John Henry's commodity-oriented world.
We shouldn't fault Jacoby Ellsbury for taking the money, any more than we applaud the Red Sox for learning from their mistakes. If Ellsbury had stayed for less money, we'd probably be wondering how badly we had misjudged who we THOUGHT he was, because we never really got to know him (not that we are entitled to).
Pablo Picasso said, "good artists borrow, great artists steal." Ellsbury has shown great capacity to steal, and many of us are asking whether this is his greatest theft ever.
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Has There Been This Much Whining in New England
"Hey Red Sox fans. You can stop crying, grow up, and join the real world any day now." -- Sincerely, Kevin Youkilis, Johnny Damon, D-Lowe, Babe Ruth, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Luis Tiant, Butch Hobson, Jose Canseco, Danny Cater, Ken Brett, Mark Bellhorn, Tony Clark, Eric Hinske, Bartolo Colon, Jack Clark, Mike Lowell, Alan Embree, Darren Bragg, Mike Easler, Tony Fossas, Greg Harris, Jackie Jensen, Jim Leyritz, Darnell McDonald, Doug Mientkiewicz, Bob Ojeda, David Wells, Paul Quantrill, Jeff Reardon, Tom Gordon, George Scott, Lee Smith, Mike Stanley, Mike Torrez, Bob Watson, Mark Whiten, Frank Tanana, Ramiro Mendoza and 283 other players who have suited up for both teams