Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Playing the Sunk Cost Game

From "GMs should just cut losses on these guys" by Tracy Ringolsby at

OF Juan Pierre, Dodgers, four years, $36.5 million remaining: The sad part (at least as far as L.A. should be concerned) is that none of the concerns the Dodgers discovered in Pierre's first year were secrets. But Pierre, one of the game's nicest people and hardest workers, has become a scapegoat for the Dodgers' failure of last season. The sadder part — Pierre was what he is. And at least he was available to play. You can't say the same thing about right-hander Jason Schmidt, once again on the DL in the second year of his three-year, $47 million deal. And when you consider the folks who gave him that contract knew him from San Francisco, they shouldn't have been the last bit surprised by his arm ailments.

3B Nomar Garciaparra, Dodgers, one year, $8.5 million remaining: Two years ago, the Dodgers realized Garciaparra's skills were eroded. They tried to hire him at first base, but with hot prospect James Loney looming, the Dodgers didn't have a need there. So what did they do? They actually signed Garciaparra to a two-year deal prior to last year, and then shifted him to third base.

Pierre may eventually be traded, but there's no way both he and Nomar will get released outright. Who would replace them the roster? Are there any (healthy) prospects burning up AAA ball and waiting to play 3B/OF? When Andy LaRoche returns, we can expect him to start in Las Vegas to get back into playing form. When Nomar returns, he'll replace Angel Chavez on the roster as the utility infielder. Blake DeWitt's performance will determine how soon (or if) LaRoche will be promoted to the majors again.

If Torre can continue to give significant playing time to Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, Pierre remains valuable insurance against injury. And no team on earth would be prepared to weather the fan backlash against releasing Nomar mid-season. There appear to be some legitimate reasons for Ned to hold on to these supposed sunk costs.


Missed one:

RHP Esteban Loaiza, Dodgers, one year, $7.375 million remaining: Oakland was hoping it could find someone to take on at least a part of Loaiza's salary when he was put on waivers late last season. Never did the A's imagine that someone would actually claim Loaiza on waviers and assume his salary in full. The Dodgers, however, bit in their pennant-race panic. The fact that they faded to a fourth-place finish in the NL West was bad enough, but now they've got to continue to pay Loaiza for another year.

Isn't Loaiza our fifth starter? Why would we release him, even if he is overpaid?