ESPN's Insider Rob Neyer has taken the initiative in his latest column to try to predict whether or not this winter's big free agent signings can reasonably be expected to earn their "average annual value" (AAV) in 2007.
Unsurprisingly, J.D. Drew is expected to do so. Why "unsurprisingly"? Because J.D. is a sabremetric fave, and the criteria Mr. Neyer uses to measure prospective success are sabremetric tools - WARP (Wins Above Replacement Players) and Win Shares. (Why do you think the sabre-ophiles in Boston were willing to bid against themselves?)
The surprises include non-sabe fave Alphonso Soriano (with qualifications, of course!) and both Juan Pierre and Gary Mathews, Jr.
The recently signed free agent pitchers didn't fit well with Mr. Neyer's parameters so they were tougher to evaluate, but he likes Mussina's chances and those of Chris Carpenter.
Methodologically, Mr. Neyer's analysis suffers from issues with operational defintions, assumptions on continuing contract inflation of 10% per year in perpetuity (Actually not perpetuity. Just until the contracts of the free agent's run out), and incredibly small sample sizes (The highest "n" is the corners' 8.).
However, those very legitimate criticisms aside, I love the fact he focused just on 2007 despite the J.D caveat that he needn't perform at $14MM AAV in the last year due to his AAV being deflated over time. Predicting the weather, I mean, player performance two year's in advance is a challenging and necessarily humbling task.