Prediction Models are Either Broken, Or People are Way Better at Lying

Charlie Morton just signed a 15 Million dollar contract with the Atlanta Braves.

That’s right, 15 Million. That figure isn’t shocking per se, I mean this is a really good pitcher who has been part of a World Series rotation more than most recently. I certainly don’t begrudge Charlie making what he can, but the models and expert predictions that we’re using clearly didn’t get this one right.

Everybody predicted a down market and I don’t just mean Morosi, or Gammons, there were actual GM’s on record that they just couldn’t see players getting normal market value.

Instead we’re seeing deals like this on for Morton. Like the Jays paid Robbie Ray. It’s completely counterintuitive to the very real situation that has seen players part ways (at great cost in some cases) with players like Brad Hand or Charlie himself.

Before I go here, this is in no way a political statement, but polls and predictive models are clearly off in more industries than baseball.

So what’s going on here?

Lying seems to fit the bill. Every single team has cried poor, even putting a 30% figure to the gate revenue in relation to the overall income. I get it, I think we all expected the clubs were all getting pinched a bit, but with closed books who knows what to believe.

I can certainly say, the early signings don’t paint that picture. They certainly don’t paint a picture that next season is precarious in any way, which it almost has to be right?

The Pirates via Travis Williams to Alex Stumpf of DK Pittsburgh Sports “Williams did not go into specifics when asked if the Pirates lost money this year, like many of teams have, but said the impact was “significant.” The Pirates have said it is too early in the offseason to know if that impact will necessitate cutting the major-league payroll.”

OK, so that’s not lying, but it’s more than likely a bit misleading. It’s too early in the offseason to know, but not because they’re pouring over the books trying to pinch nickels to get Ben that extra million. It’s because they don’t yet know who else Ben might move. Sets the stage perfectly to claim the eventual projected payroll being low is COVID related rather than rebuild related.

A friend of mine (well virtual friend) @JimStamm22 was pretty irritated at the same old double talk from various interviews Mr. Williams conducted recently. I see his point, mostly because when you challenge him he will have a reasonable conversation with you rather than call you a hater. Great follow he is by the way, but I digress.

We had a great talk about it and while I still think much of what irritated him was just GM speak, like we want to win a championship or we have a great management team, blah blah you know what I’m talking about. I point this very real criticism from Jim out because that’s a whole different category than overt misleading.

We all assume the payroll is going to go down. They cut roughly 17 million from it already, add back in the arbitration awards and a pittance of free agents they might break even, but I see it creeping down a bit.

I don’t mind them not knowing right now, makes total sense. But we’re mature enough to hear that if we make more trades the payroll isn’t just going to slide downhill, it’s going to drop. I believe we can handle that. If the statements like this are designed to help the Bucs smooth things over with the Nutting must go crew, it won’t work.

First of all, we all would like Nutting to go, the difference is some of us understand he isn’t going to sell and it’s not going to stop us from watching and covering the team. In reality it doesn’t stop many of the Mark Cuban crusaders from watching either, but they sure are vocal that they pay no attention. There they are commenting on every column, every signing, every trade, every hire, every damn day.

I suggest placating, is no better than lying. Just treat us like adults. I don’t care if they use the r-r-r-rebuild word or just call it acquiring talent, but please, we can see what’s happening, and we know why. I don’t expect Travis to point at Bob and say, ‘hey guys, you know he won’t spend right now’. But they could try explaining why a team in this position can’t spend their way out of it.

I don’t need to know that the eventual promised payroll figure is 140 million, but until they get to that part of the equation (if), they need to understand everything they do amount to nothing more than words.

Words are powerful, I understand being cautious with them, I don’t understand pretending there is a situation in which the Pirates would add to payroll in 2021. Even if they chose to extend 3 or 4 players chances are they’d not affect payroll next season much.

I guess what I’m saying is I expect just a bit more directness from the Pirates, but as the league they play in tends to practice the same kind of light deceit perhaps I shouldn’t.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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