Today’s Topic: 12/6/2013
Baseball is in no shortage of ridiculous contracts. The A-Rod debacle in New York, the Pujols and Hamilton gambles by the definitely not Anaheim Angels, and the Prince Fielder contract in Detroit all point to a common and overwhelming trend: players are not worth the money. How often does a baseball player come around who truly changes the outlook and feel of a team single-glovedly? Rarely if ever. Griffey in Seattle? Trout now in definitely not Anaheim? Cabrera in Detroit? Phenomenal players, but world altering? Today’s Topic spotlights recent contracts and why baseball has gotten out of hand. What if I told you that a below average hitting, recently injured centerfielder signed a 4-year $60 million dollar contract? It might not make for a very compelling 30-for-30, but it’s something ESPN probably isn’t labeling “ridiculous”. Curtis Granderson, the career .261 hitter (.245 the last 4 years in New York) just made such a deal with the crosstown New York Mets. What should the Mets expect from their $60 million investment? Nothing too special. Granderson was an all-star in 2011 and 2012, okay, I get that…but he batted .261 and .231. His power is likely to see a downturn and he strikes out way too much to be a leadoff bat. What am I saying? I’m saying getting an average player at Centerfield would likely have been a better return of investment. Granderson doesn’t bring people to the ballpark. He’s not a Micky Cabrera or Yu Darvish. He’s one of the worst types in baseball: a high-K power hitter. So what’s my point? If you look around baseball, you’ll notice a developing trend of enormous and long contracts. Joey Votto 12-years $251.5 million. Pujols 10-years $240 million. Prince Fielder 9-years $214 million. The heinous $275 million, 10-year debacle for A-Rod. Even C.C. Sabathia’s 7-year $161 million contract in 2008. C.C. was only 28 at the time, but pitchers wear faster than hitters. I mean look at what happened to Justin Verlander’s stats this season…oh and for the record the Tigers’ “Ace” is on a 7-year $180 million contract at the moment. I feel stupid saying it, but Joey Votto has been the best player of those ‘I just listed since his signing and it is difficult for me to say he’s a player that brings penultimate star power to a roster. Perhaps the only player I just named who can bring fans to a stadium is, dear God, A-Rod. He’s a ticking time bomb who has, without a doubt, becomes sports’ biggest villain and dynamo. It’s his ignominy which attracts fans…and his ignominy is not worth $27.5 million a year. Large baseball contracts are, in a word, stupid. Players in baseball are not players in the NBA. They get tired of long seasons and the fleeting nature of a terrific baseball season is omnipresent in the league. It’s hard for a player to reel off more than three or four great seasons in a row, especially after he hits his early thirties. Pujols isn’t the same guy as the Cardinal great who was the fastest player to 400 homeruns. He’s now a busted investment who has experienced injuries and freefalling production. There is not just a trend in baseball, there is a fact: long term deals are not to be trusted. Unless you’re locking up a 23 year-old Felix Hernandez for 10 years, that number shouldn’t even cross the imagination much less a piece of paper requiring you to pay the guy unimaginable coin. Also, baseball players aren’t like the NBA because there isn’t star power. Fans in baseball aren’t attracted by a player or a pitcher. A player bats four or five times a game and a pitcher is only out there once every five days. LeBron, KD, James Harden? These guys are in the lineup every night and people will pay just to watch them play for 35 of 48 minutes. I don’t want to buy my $30 baseball ticket just to watch Joey Votto bat four times. I want to watch the entire Reds team play because they’re a winning franchise (or at least should be). So, why is this Today’s Topic? It isn’t Curtis Granderson. He’s a small fish compared to the other too big name signings this week: Jacoby Ellsbury and Robinson Cano. The Cobes signed a 7-year $153 million deal with the Yankees…pocket change for the what the Bombers usually shell out. Ellsbury is a very solid centerfielder…the best? Probably not. Worth roughly $22 million a year? Once again, probably not. I don’t know what the market value is for centerfielders is these days, but $22 million a year for a speedy leadoff hitter seems a little ludicrous. I was praying my Redlegs might make a stab at Ellsbury, but giving him $22 million a year? I’ll stick with the Billy Hamilton project. He’s relatively young (30), so the 7-years isn’t obnoxious, but I don’t understand when baseball became such a absurd paying sport….they need a salary cap, right? Cano’s deal might be the worst in league history…yeah, I just said that with the A-Rod nonsense fresh in both of our minds. Cano’s initial hope was to get the Yankees to dish out $300,000,000 over 10 years. I put the zeroes to make a point. That would not only be the largest contract in history, Robinson Cano and his zero MVP’s, zero fan attraction, and extremely average defense would be making it. At least when the Yankees signed A-Rod he was the best offensive player to ever play the game (obviously P.E.D.’s, but the signing was made without any knowledge of those…admit it, A-Rod was still in the midst of prodigy when the Yanks signed him). Thankfully, the Yankees aren’t THAT idiotic and lead Cano down the road of negotiation…which leads to Seattle now’a’days? Cano signed a 10-year $240 million deal today with the Mariners because fuck it they stole Ichiro from us in a trade we agreed to and we’re not in the least bit happy about it and we want our damn hero back so we’re stealing your overpriced second basemen because Jay-Z too. That sentence was such a run-on and so terrible, it lost even me….anyway, Cano’s deal to me is the worst in Major League history…why? Because he’s just not worth it. The Giants won the World Series last year…their second baseman? Marco Scutaro. What else do we know about Scutaro? He was the starting second baseman for the National League this year (over Brandon Phillips somehow) and his contract is a whooping 3-years $20. If you go with the 162 game averages, Cano will spot you (BA/HR/RBI/R) .031/15/35/14 more than Scutaro. Obviously Cano is a better offensive player, no one is saying otherwise, but is he worth the extra $17,000,000+ a year? Scutaro is 38, granted, but the point isn’t to pick up Marco Scutaro. the point is that these large, long contracts aren’t worth their weight in gold or the players weight in gold. Cano isn’t going to make the Mariners a World Series favorite. The Angels locked up hundreds of millions in Pujols and Hamilton and finished third in the AL West. What is the moral here, boys and girls? Big baseball contracts are about as useful as Brick Tamland toasting mayonnaise. The Mariners might not right now, but as the past dictates, they will one day rue the Robinson Cano contract. It’s really a shame these suckers will only be getting bigger and worse as the years roll.