Baltimore Orioles targeting Ervin Santana

Over the weekend, 105.7 The Fan’s Mark Zinno tweeted that he was surprised to see the Orioles willing to spend $10+ million on Ervin Santana after they wouldn’t spend that amount to secure the back end of their bullpen by re-signing Jim Johnson. Zinno referred to it as a poor “reallocation” of their funds — poking fun of Dan Duquette’s favorite word of the offseason.

I couldn’t disagree more.

The most simple counterpoint to this argument can be found by examining the value of each player in 2014. According to FanGraphs, Santana’s 3.0 WAR season was worth $14.9 million while Johnson’s 0.9 WAR season was worth $4.6. Johnson has never posted a WAR higher than 1.4 (2011) which means he’s never been valued any higher than $6.4 million in a single season.

Some folks don’t like that equation though. In our tweets back and forth Zinno argued that 101 saves over two seasons is more impressive than 18 wins and 65 home runs surrendered. I’m not a fan of using wins or saves as statistics to support a baseball argument, but if that’s what presented I would counter will 12 blown saves over two seasons and a league-leading 113 save opportunities. Sure Johnson’s save total is impressive, but closers are only partly responsible for that number. It’s the team that creates the opportunity and the Orioles created more for JJ in 2012 and 2013 than any other team did for their ninth inning man.

How about those 65 dongs though? Well 60 percent of them were given up in 2012 with the Angels. Santana actually led the league that year in home runs surrendered with 39, previously he had never given up more than 27 in a single season. The 26 homers he surrendered in 2013 ranks him 11th among starters tied with Cy Young runner-up Yu Darvish and Red Sox comeback hero John Lackey.

O’s starter Chris Tillman actually ranks third on that list with 33. Again though, it’s not about giving up home runs, it’s about the home runs that you surrender. How many did he give up while pitching on short rest? 19, actually. How many were given up in late and close games (7th or later with batting team tied, ahead by one, or tying run at least on deck)? 2, thanks for asking.

I’m just going to ignore wins all together if that’s cool with everyone.

Lastly, a poor reallocation of funds? I might disagree with this comment the most. Had the Orioles spent $10 million on Jim Johnson ($6.4 million more than he was valued last season) they likely would have been unable to sign Ubaldo Jimenez (making $11 million this season) and Nelson Cruz ($8 million this season).

And do you know which player had a better HR/9, ERA and WHIP than Johnson did last season? Ryan Webb, whose average annual value is $2.25 million.

Image Credit: Keith Allison