August 2008

By Jason Haviland

Manny is now with the Dodgers. Every team, in every sport, that is in the playoff hunt as their respective trading deadline approaches faces the same question? Is player “X” worth the price we’ll pay? Will he be worth the headaches? Will he be worth the young talent we will have to give up? Will he help us deliver the championship that we crave? The Dodgers apparently did some math and answered yes. Let’s do some math of our own.

For our math equation, we’ll assume that this is trading deadline only math and the one goal for a team in the playoff hunt making a trading deadline deal is to get to the playoffs win a championship. Different math would apply in different scenarios, so the focus here is winning the championship. So in baseball, what’s a World Series title worth anyway? According to Vince Gennaro in an article on Yahoo! Sports who looked back at the 2007 World Series, “Over the next five years, the Red Sox should realize a cumulative $45 million in additional revenue for achieving their second World Series championship in four years, while the Rockies stand to gain an estimated $30 million as a result of getting to the Fall Classic for the first time.”

Now, there are large and small market circumstances to consider, other interesting team dynamics and extreme circumstances like the ’97 Marlins or ’04 Red Sox, so let’s just be conservative and say its $30 million for a win and $20 million for just making it to the World Series.

So how much as Manny increased the likelihood that that Dodgers will win the NL Pennant or win the World Series. I know how to answer that question: Vegas Baby! I researched the odds on the Dodgers and their odds to win the World Series has increased from about 22:1 (or 4.5% chance) prior to the trade to about 16:1 (or 6.25%) after the trade. I'll be sporting and assume that all of that increase is due to Manny. The money line hasn't moved as favorably. From about +1615 prior to about +1500 now, but let's go with the more favorable numbers. The bottom line says that Manny has increased the Dodgers chance at a $30 million payday by 1.75% and 1.75% of $30 million is $525,000. Add in another $350,000 for the N.L. Pennant and you're looking at a net impact of $875,000. Not bad Manny…I guess...

Now let’s look at what it cost them.

These costs are much harder to quantify, but they are very real. Here’s where the fun begins. I put my assessment of each in parenthesis. Your math may turn out very differently.

1) Some part of Manny’s contract. ($2 million. I think the Red Sox ate most of it)
2) The future potential in the prospects they gave up ($2 million. I’ll assume that the prospects that they gave up won’t be superstars, but the Dodgers will have to pay more for equivalent talent)
3) The costs associated with losses because Manny may turn out not to be a team player. If Manny does not respect his teammates and puts himself ahead of the team, this will cost you wins. ($1.4 million. I’ll assume he mostly keeps it together for the rest of the season, but mails it in for two games as we get into the dog says of August. The Dodgers will lose one of those two games. Conservatively figure $125 million total payroll for the Dodgers and an ambitious 90 wins and that’s about $1.4 million per win.
4) The bad publicity and public image of any off the field antics. ($.5 I’ll assume he behaves for the rest of the season, so just a modest amount of PR staff and other efforts to keep Manny in the good graces of the fans)

So, bottom line, that’s $875,000 in benefit for $6.1 million in cost. And since I don’t think that it will be enough for the Dodgers to hoist the trophy in October, I'll quote Howie Mandel when he opens the final case on Deal or No Deal. LA…you made a bad deal…

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