FanGraphs' Dave Cameron breaks down the Lyon signing. And it's entitled "The Worst Signing of the Winter."
Some hardcore nuggets:
Ed Wade is the GM equivalent of a bad SNL sketch. The first time he overpaid a middle reliever, we figured out that he didn’t really know how to build a roster. Now, when he gives Brandon Lyon a 3 year, $15 million deal, we just shrug our shoulders and say, “Yeah, that’s Ed Wade for ya.”
Seriously, $5 million a year for the next three years for Brandon Lyon. We’re not talking about overpaying for a premium bullpen guy. Lyon is a generic middle reliever, the kind of guy who could be replaced by a minor league free agent or a Rule 5 draftee. His career FIP is 4.23, which is below average for a relief pitcher. He doesn’t even have magical FIP-beating properties – his career ERA is 4.20...
...What year does Wade think this is? The market for relief pitchers absolutely cratered a year ago, as teams stopped paying significant money for setup guys who could be effectively replaced by league-minimum earners. So far this year, we’ve seen a significant pullback from even that level of spending. The average dollar per win for the first crop of free agents signed this winter has been about $3 million per win. The Astros are paying about $10 million – ten million – per win for Lyon.
They don’t have any money to spend to fix the rest of their bad, old roster, but they can commit $5 million a year to Brandon Lyon through 2012. Moves like this are why the team isn’t good, and won’t be good any time soon. This move is just the latest act in a joke that’s gone on far too long.
Rob Neyer references Cameron's post and says the following:
I'm glad Cameron said it instead of me ... but, yeah.
The Astros actually play in a pretty solid market, in the top dozen or so anyway. They've got a relatively new ballpark. Owner Drayton McLane did finance roughly a third of the stadium's construction, for which he deserves credit. But the bottom line is that the Astros play in a bigger market, and are presumably wealthier, than the Cardinals, the Brewers, the Pirates, and the Reds. In fact, the Astros should enjoy huge financial edges over all or most of those clubs.
The No. 1 argument against Ed Wade's competence is not this ridiculous contract. The Astros should be able to blow $5 million per season on freely available talent like Brandon Lyon and still win. The No. 1 argument against Wade's competence is that the Astros have been outscored by 232 over the last four seasons, and there's no reason for optimism about 2010 or beyond.
I haven't chimed in on my thoughts on the Lyon/Lindstrom signing, because right now I can't get my head around it. That post will be coming this afternoon, but I'm leaning towards a take of, "How is Matt Lindstrom different from Casey Daigle?" and, "Isn't Jeff Fulchino about the same as Brandon Lyon?" For now, I'm assembling data and information, and soliciting your opinions...