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Incentives question...

Postby hot4tx » Tue Apr 01, 2008 2:58 pm

In a lot of closer discussion recently, folks have been adding various incentives that relief pitchers may have in their contracts for closing games. This is being used to point out who may be next in line for saves. If the closer gets hurt/pulled they surmise that the guy(s) with closing incentives would have an inside track to be the next closer.

My question: is this actually a reason to think one RP might close over another? Obviously veteran pitchers that think of themselves (and the club thinks of them) as having closer potential would be the ones more likely to have these incentives in their contracts, but does that mean that if two pitchers are relatively equal the club would choose one because he has closing incentives?

To me this goes against common sense. Why would your team having to pay a guy more if you use him in one role versus the next guy be a deciding factor in choosing him. Mostly likely the manager doesn't care about contract incentives and would pitch the one that he thinks is the better closer, but if anything if he thought the guys were exactly even, wouldn't he want to pick the guy that his team wouldn't have to pay more money? Maybe so he could have more money available for mid-season trades?

I've just never heard of a manager picking a guy for a certain position/job because that guy will get his incentives. Does this really have an effect on how they pick as a closer?
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Re: Incentives question...

Postby tmlfan4ever » Tue Apr 01, 2008 3:09 pm

I think there is something to be said for closers on big contracts having a longer leash (Gagne for example) because the team has shown a lot of faith in them and will give them time to prove themselves. However, I don't see much merit in incentives preventing a player from fulfilling a role more effectively than another. If he can help a team win, you've got to think that management will get him in there.
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Re: Incentives question...

Postby hot4tx » Tue Apr 01, 2008 3:23 pm

Yeah, I understand when someone's being paid big money (especially if it's a recent signing) there's a tendency to give them a longer leash. One because you don't want to admit you screwed up and two because you believed in their ability at some point and you are hoping they eventually give you what you thought they would.

But I've seen several people point out that RP X has incentives in his contract to close and should therefore have a better chance to close than RP Y. Like Eddie Guadardo - whether or not he ends up getting a chance to close I don't think that the fact that he has closing incentives, while Benoit and Fukumori may not, be a reason for the Rangers to bump him up the closing food chain.

Same thing with the MIL situation. I wouldn't think that if one of the MRPs they have has closing incentives in their contract that would be a reason for them to use him as a closer over one of the other guys if Gagne is pulled.
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Re: Incentives question...

Postby Madison » Tue Apr 01, 2008 4:49 pm

hot4tx wrote:But I've seen several people point out that RP X has incentives in his contract to close and should therefore have a better chance to close than RP Y. Like Eddie Guadardo - whether or not he ends up getting a chance to close I don't think that the fact that he has closing incentives, while Benoit and Fukumori may not, be a reason for the Rangers to bump him up the closing food chain.


It's simply a matter of thinking and thought. Case in point: Guardado.

Salary of very little, $4 million in bonuses, $2.5 million is for games finished. Do you really think he or his agent is stupid enough to sign that contract without assurances from upper management that he will get the opportunity to earn the money? He was a free agent, remember? Anyway, I don't think he'd be dumb enough to sign that deal without knowing he'd get a chance to earn that money, and don't know of a media outlet down here that does think he or his agent are that stupid.

Would be as silly as Arod signing a contract with a few million in bonuses for appearances at 1B. No way he'd sign that unless he was assured by upper management that he would have opportunity to play 1B, or there was an extremely high chance he'd wind up playing 1B.

Same for Guardado.
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Re: Incentives question...

Postby GotowarMissAgnes » Tue Apr 01, 2008 6:43 pm

I hear you, Mad, but...

..unless there is something specific in the contract about the opportunity, what's to prevent management from making that incentive inoperable? Suppose after a month Wilson goes down and Steady Eddie's got an ERA over 20 in set-up work, while one of the other candidates has not allowed an earned run. Who's going to get the call?

That's extreme, but it illustrates the point that unless the player performs, the incentive clause is meaningless. Management's job is to win games. If they choose that contract incentive over the win imperative, their job's the risk. If I'm the manager or the GM, my response to any complaint, is "screw you, Eddie, I'm here to win games."
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Re: Incentives question...

Postby Madison » Tue Apr 01, 2008 7:21 pm

GotowarMissAgnes wrote:I hear you, Mad, but...

..unless there is something specific in the contract about the opportunity, what's to prevent management from making that incentive inoperable? Suppose after a month Wilson goes down and Steady Eddie's got an ERA over 20 in set-up work, while one of the other candidates has not allowed an earned run. Who's going to get the call?

That's extreme, but it illustrates the point that unless the player performs, the incentive clause is meaningless. Management's job is to win games. If they choose that contract incentive over the win imperative, their job's the risk. If I'm the manager or the GM, my response to any complaint, is "screw you, Eddie, I'm here to win games."


Oh I don't disagree at all. If the guy can't do the job, gets hurt, or whatever, then those "assurances" go right out the window. ;-D

This all started around the Texas closing situation. Seems a lot of people here want Benoit to get the shot. Problem is that the job is Wilson's to lose, and both Guardado and Fukumori are in Benoit's way of that. Fukumori didn't help himeself any yesterday, but didn't kill himself either. Getting a little beat up (and the box reads worse than it was) in one's MLB debut isn't that big of a deal. Anyway, with Fukumori's past of closing games in Japan plus his spring line, he's in line for the gig. If Guardado performs, then he's in line for it as well because I'm positive they gave him assurances he'd get the opportunity or else he wouldn't have signed the type of incentive laden deal he signed. So Benoit is 4th in line and stuck in MR limbo at the moment. He's not even a set up man, just a plain old MR.

Scroll down to the chart on the right:

http://texas.rangers.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080324&content_id=2455725&vkey=news_tex&fext=.jsp&c_id=tex

That alone should say quite a bit about his chances of closing. Anyway, I'd put my money on a starter or two stinking it up, getting injured, or a combination of those two, and Benoit winding up in the rotation rather than closing. The former is much more likely than all 3 possible closers stinking. That's what everything out there points to, all the local papers, news, team website, etc. Benoit and closing aren't even being mentioned in the same sentence. But that's me and I don't get hung up on who I "want" to close in fantasy. I could "want" Benoit to close all I like, but that doesn't change anything and won't make it happen.

The incentives were really just the icing on the cake as to why Benoit won't be closing anytime soon. Didn't expect it to spin off on its own topic, but that always makes things fun. :-D
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Re: Incentives question...

Postby Half Massed » Tue Apr 01, 2008 10:31 pm

Well, as has been pointed out, there are the assurances from management that the player will get a shot at fulfilling their incentives should X and Y happen. Beyond that, as a manager, you have to take player happiness into account. If you had two equal RPs and your closer goes down, you have two options:

1) You go with the cheaper pitcher (one without incentives). The guy with the incentives is pissed as it looks like you're actively denying him the chance to fulfill his incentives (which you are, given the assumptions) and that will cause all sorts of problems related to player happiness.

2) You give the guy with the incentives the job. It's what he expects because that's what he's been told would happen, he's happy and the team pays the incentive cost.

Not going with the guy who has incentives in this situation is equivalent to benching a hitter that has 390 ABs at the end of September because he has incentives that kick in at 400 ABs and you have an equivalent hitter on the bench. Not only do you upset the player, you send signals to future players that you won't give them the chance to fulfill their incentives, making them demand more upfront in the future.
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