Scott Feldman as Ground-Ball Yoda; Smart Signing


Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, our fearless leader, Yoni Pollak (@YoniPollak), wrote about the Astros signing Scott Feldman to a 3 year, $30 million deal, and how it boggles his mind. A lot of things boggle my mind.

– How people find John Mayer attractive.

– Why people keep pointing cameras at Justin Beiber.

– How exactly a posi-trac rear-end on a Plymouth works.

But the Feldman signing makes sense to me. He’s safe. Did the Astros have to pay a little over market value for the pitcher? Sure, but there are a couple of really good reasons for it.

Feldman’s deal gets less expensive with time. Most sports deals start at their cheapest and grow over time. Feldman’s starts at $12 million in 2014 and grades down to $8 million in 2016. It is hard to convince a player to take a pay cut every year over the course of his contract, so Feldman probably required a little more than he would have gotten in a standard deal, in order to do so.

The Astros, with their eyes on the future, didn’t want to sign deal now that was going to hurt their chances to compete later. The $8 million we’ll owe Scott Feldman in 2016 is next to nothing in terms of baseball contracts. Ricky Romero has 2 years and $15.6 million dollars left on his contract, and he allowed 9 ER in 7.1 total innings last year.

The other argument against those who claim the Astros gave Feldman too much money this offseason, is that no one likes losing. The Astros have lost, and in all likelihood will continue to lose, a lot of games. For the next year or two, we’ll likely have to pay above market value for players to convince them to sign up to lose 4 days a week.

But those are all arguments for paying above market value for an underwhelming pitcher. I am of the opinion that we are not accurately valuing the mentoring that has been put on Feldman. The sign-a-veteran-to-mentor-rookies cliché is awful, and I will do my best to avoid it, but it does seem that Feldman fit more characteristics than “willing to sign with a losing team.”

Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It is no secret that the Astros, under Jeff Luhnow have valued ground ball pitchers, as evidenced by all but one of the pitchers acquired this offseason sport GB% above league average (the outlier being Jesse Crain). Former top prospect, and suspected pitcher-of-the-future, Jarred Cosart showed good ground ball numbers in a small sample last year and has a filthy cut fastball that would suggest a ground ball pedigree.

Feldman ranked 14th in baseball last year in GB%, and has consistently been above to well above average throughout his career.

Feldman was targeted by this front office as someone who can come in and provide quality starts every fifth day but also act as a Ground-Ball Yoda and teach a niche pitching-philosophy to a rookie with great stuff. It isn’t an exciting move, but if we are honest with ourselves, baseball transactions aren’t exciting, wins are exciting.

If we were comparing pitchers to pastries, Clayton Kershaw is a Cronut and Feldman is a bag overflowing with donut holes. There is no argument that a Cronut is better than donut holes, but no one gets a bag of donut holes for $1 and walks away unhappy. It’s because they’re safe and reasonable. Buying a $600 Cronut may make for an exciting story tomorrow morning, but overextending yourself and having to eat Ramen the rest of the week isn’t.

Quite frankly, I’m sick of eating Ramen.

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