Saturday, November 26, 2005


Baseball's silly season

I hadn't intended to rant today about salary lunacy in baseball, but rather how this year's free agency/trading activity is rapidly changing the baseball landscape. However, four reported signings/offers make me want to lead with a rant.

Found this on CNN/SI this morning.

Boy, if this is true, the small-market Blue Jays just blew up the bullpen salary structure but good. $47 million for BJ Ryan? On top of an apparent $50 million offer to AJ Burnett. Maybe they have a thing for initials.

Any Jays fans that beef to me about my Yankees and buying championships, I will forever point to these two offers and laugh myself sick.

I shudder to think about what Billy Wagner is telling his agent in light of the Ryan report. Wagner was looking at a 3 year/$30 million deal with the Mets, which at $10 million per year still puts him second behind Mariano Rivera in highest per year salary (Rivera's making $10.5 million/year). However, I'm sure he'll now go back and want the contract upped to $50 million over 4 years, since he apparently wants the biggest contract ever given to a reliever.

Mind you, bullpen salaries are getting out of hand whether the Ryan deal is true or not. The Cubs went out and blew $12 million on Bobby Howry and $11 million on Scott Eyre (who the Jays considered useless a few years ago). Each contract is for three years and Eyre's is guaranteed. That's $8 million a year for two guys whose primary responsibility is to hold leads for Ryan Dempster. Tom Gordon, setup man par excellence for Rivera the last two years, has gotta be thinking $5 million or maybe even $6 million a year when he signs his free agent deal sometime this offseason. A price tag that is patently ridiculous.

OK. Rant over.

The free agent season thus far is more notable for the trades that have been made as opposed to the free agent signings. Many big names remain on the market. A full list of trades/signings can be found here. Let's see who the big winners/losers are thus far:


Boston: The Josh Beckett deal is a winner. Yes, they had to part with Hanley Ramirez and Harvey Garcia (and Anibal Sanchez and Jesus Delgado have some potential as Major League pitchers in a few years), meaning that Edgar Renteria is their best option for the foreseeable future, but Beckett fits in nicely as the #2 behind Curt Schilling. Assuming the Sox keep Matt Clement and/or David Wells and Bronson Arroyo continues to mature, this is a pretty potent rotation. Plus, Beckett gets to apprentice at the side of one of the best in Schilling. As well, the Sox got the Marlins to add in Guillermo Mota, who should be excellent Keith Foulke insurance and, along with Mike Timlin, create a pretty tough back end of the bullpen. They still have issues on offense, specifically clearing up the Manny Ramirez issue, deciding whether or not to sign Johnny Damon to the huge contract he wants, and sorting out the infield (keep Mike Lowell (part of the Beckett deal) or Bill Mueller at third (although Mueller could slide over to second, taking Tony Graffanino out of the mix) or deal an infielder along with Ramirez for a stud outfielder).

Mets: The Carlos Delgado deal is an instant upgrade for the offense and provides the Mets with a few options if a Manny Ramirez deal is in the offing. Apparently, the Red Sox are demanding Carlos Beltran (who was horrible in New York this season) in any deal for Ramirez, but the Mets were left with very few power options if the deal was made and Ramirez flamed out. Delgado is a proven middle-of-the-order hitter and should, with his laid-back personality, do just fine in NY. Giving up Yusmeiro Petit is costly and the loss of Mike Jacobs means (at this point) another season of Mike Piazza behind the plate, but the Mets should be OK. I really think, though, they should walk away from Billy Wagner, who proved himself to be a bit of a headcase in Philly.


Marlins: Well, I think we can safely say that the Marlins won't be competing for a few years. With the announcement that they will likely relocate in 2008, the Marlins have basically told their Florida fanbase to stay home, letting A.J. Burnett walk, making a token (1 year/$1 million) offer to Jeff Conine (Mr. Marlin), giving away Josh Beckett, Guillermo Mota and Mike Lowell to the Red Sox (and they could have had Hank Blalock from Texas in a deal that wouldn't have cost them Mota). Then they topped it off by dealing away Carlos Delgado for limited immediate help in Mike Jacobs. Yes, the youngsters they got in these deals should be ready for prime time by 2008, but they sure screwed the Florida fanbase. I expect to see Juan Pierre and maybe Luis Castillo gone by New Years. Could be a 100-loss season this year and the end of Jack McKeon's managing career.

Cubs: I'm sorry, but $34 million in contracts to Bobby Howry (3 yrs/$12 million), Scott Eyre (3 yrs/$11 million), Glendon Rusch (2 yrs/$6 million) and Neifi Perez (2 yrs/$5 million) is suppposed to scare other teams how? They will let Nomar Garciaparra walk (and don't think Steinbrenner isn't entertaining the idea of putting Nomar in centre field in NY) and they have yet to make one impact signing. Methinks they are not looking World Series in 2006, especially if the offseason stories about Kerry Wood are true. Maybe they'll make a run at Brian Giles, who would be great hitting behind Derrek Lee.


Yankees: The Yankees did the right thing, re-signing Hideki Matsui (4 years, $52 million), but their offseason will be graded on one thing: How they replace Bernie Williams. If they overpay for Torii Hunter, not so good. If they are able to fleece the Marlins and steal Juan Pierre, all good.

White Sox: The champs are taking a huge risk dealing for Jim Thome. Mind you, they suckered the Phillies into throwing in $22 million to pay him, so it's a bargain basement insurance policy in the event they can't re-sign Paul Konerko. Losing Aaron Rowand hurts, but Scott Podsednik has the wheels to play centre. The deal also seems to (finally) signal the end of Frank Thomas' run in Chi-town, which has got to be considered a good thing.

Mariners: Seattle put a lot of money (3 years, $16.5 million) on the table for another Japanese league star, catcher Kenji Johjima. If Johjima is the catching equivalent of Ichiro, hoo-rah. However, I see lots of problems acquainting him with the pitching staff (not the least of which is the language issue) and, if he can't take control of the game defensively, the deal's a liability.

I'll do another of these after the GM winter meetings.