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Smizik: Avoid Sano

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Bob Smizik on Miguel Angel Sano:

In an era when the most sophisticated scouting by the National Football League cannot accurately predict the success of 22 and 23-year-old men and when the best talent evaluators in Major League Baseball miss way too often on college, let along high-school age, players, it makes no sense -- none -- to spend millions on a sophomore in high school.

Leaving aside the question of whether a sportswriter who consistently misses the boat on just about everything has any business questioning "talent evaluators," the problem here is that the Pirates don't need to be certain that Sano will play in the big leagues for him to be a good investment. If they did, no one would ever sign draft picks or Latin American amateurs. Or veterans. No investment in the future is certain.

The issue is the chance that he'll be successful. If the Pirates pay Sano $4 million, it is certainly true that he could discover American food and gain 100 pounds, or never adjust to American culture, or simply never get better, and if any of those things happened the Pirates would get nothing for that $4 million. But the Bucs have to weigh that possibility against the chance that Sano will become a star in the majors, in which case they'll be able to pay him far below market value for six years. If that happened, the Pirates would get as much as a tenfold return on their initial investment of $4 million.

Smizik is obviously right that the Pirates should be cautious here. But this is the same person who argued last year that Xavier Nady should be given an extension, presumably for far more than $4 million. His risk-reward calibrator is obviously way out of whack. Veterans aren't automatically safe bets, and risky bets aren't automatically bad ones. 

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Very busy week for me. I'll be updating more starting tomorrow.