Atlanta is Machiavellian, But in a Good Way

Amazingly enough, this thought started out with an article about the Sharks signing Cheecho and Nabakov to long term contracts. Nabakov has an interesting no trade clause: it depends on his performance during the season for it to vest for the next season. So that got me thinking that this might be a good way to motivate players in baseball as well, to get that extra incentive to do well each year - that is one of my pet peeves about sports contracts, how do you motivate a player after you sign him to a guaranteed long term contract, there are so many examples just locally of players who regressed after signing the big contract, like Moonman Minton, or who would be career average but then do very well in his free agent year, then regress, like Robby Thompson, Dana Stubblefield, Billy Owens, Erick Dampier, or who just sign the contract and never fulfill the potential, like Joe Barry Carroll, Russell Cross, Chris Washburn, Joe Smith, James Owen, JJ Stokes. Not that a no-trade clause is the end all and be all, but it would be an additional twist.

That thought led me to think about how Atlanta likes to draft local kids, because they - like Barry Bonds - might be motivated to do well for their boyhood team. That's when it hit me: that is one of the tenets of Machiavelli, that a mercenary army is not ideal, you want a citizen army. And Atlanta's draft strategy essentially encapsulates that with their policy to draft local kids. That also makes sense in that the player will have some emotional investment, being a fan when younger, so they won't be as demanding for a bonus or salary, at least in the early years, because they will get emotional value playing for "their" team. And they will be internally motivated to do well for their boyhood team.

And I was looking through the 2005 Media Guide and the Giants have been drafting or obtaining local people - not sure what a significant proportion is, just that there has been a number of local players: Foppert, Tyler Walker, Kevin Frandsen, Nate Schierholtz, Mike Mooney, Erick Threets, Julian Benevidez, Nick Conte, Brian Stirm. Plus one or two Sacramentoans.


Blogger Jefferson said...

You may be the first person in history to ever connect the Giants with Machiavelli. Well done!

Fri Feb 10, 09:50:00 AM PST  
Blogger allfrank said...

Hello Martin -
My condolensces and sympathy for your mother.
I know what you are going thru. I lost my dad a few years ago. He was a great baseball fan, and was my Little League coach. He had relocated to Atlanta and became a knowledgeable Braves fan.
Your piece on the Braves was very interesting.
I wanted to ask, if you don't think a better strategy for the Giants this past Winter would have been to TRY to sign Tomko for $3-4 mil and still go after Vasquez (do I have the wrong name) or Morris, then use Tomko as the 5th or 4th starter (maybe have Cain as the 5th). This would give experience, innings, decent ERA, etc and give Hennessey and Correia another year to learn to pitch in Fresno. If money were an issue, I would even do without Vizcaino and Greene, altho I like the addition of both.

Fri Feb 10, 07:42:00 PM PST  
Blogger obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

Thanks, I get by with a little help from my friends...

About Tomko, he signed for about $4.4M per year for 2 years plus option, so I don't think he would have took $3-4M from the Giants. Vasquez was traded from D-backs to Detroit if I recall right, I'm guessing you meant Loaiza.

I frankly was tired of Tomko's excuses for why he didn't do well then suddenly did well. His inconsistency has marked his whole career and the frustrating thing was that he actually had good fastball velocity, he just couldn't use it to great effect, even when he got Matheny on the team, he got benched twice, once more than he did with Pierzitski behind the plate.

As I noted in another post, I'm hoping Jamey Wright will take the #5 starting spot, his road history suggests that we got a slightly better version of Tomko for much cheaper dollars for the next two years than signing Tomko for $8.7M. And we double win because now he'll be bringing his tired act to LA AND for more money.

Then the upside is if Hennessey figures out how to pitch consistently, our rotation is that much better plus we have a good-enough backup starter in Wright sitting in AAA during the season in case any of the following happens: 1) Schmidt misses a start or three, 2) Morris misses a start or three, 3) Cain totally bombs, 4) Hennessey totally bombs.

I feel our starting rotation is all set, Schmidt as ace, Morris as #2 but could be co-ace at times, Lowry as #3 but could pitch like a #2, Cain as #4 but could pitch anywhere from ace to #5, but my bet is on better than on lousy, Wright/Hennessey/Correia as #5 and the other two as backup in AAA, plus maybe Brian Wilson starting and Merkin Valdez finally ready to do well.

Sat Feb 11, 01:24:00 AM PST  

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