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Growing up, my goal in life was
to be a major league baseball player. Apparently, though, there’s this rule
that says you have to be good to make it to the majors. Rats… Missed it by THAT
As I grew older, however, and the
dream of being a big-league ball player became more and more real (in my mind,
at least), I could only think of a handful of teams I wanted to play for. The
motivation behind this list had nothing to do with money, either.
I am no professional athlete and,
barring some kind of miracle, I will never know what it’s like to earn $1
million dollars in one year. But this is the time of year where the guys who did make it to the big leagues are
trying to figure out just how many millions of dollars they want to earn for
the next few years at least.
This phenomenon will always blow
What goes through a man like Mark
Teixeira’s mind when deciding between a handful of teams, all of which are
offering millions upon millions? What is his motivation? How do you decide?
When I look at free agency, I try
to figure out who will go where. Sometimes, you hear the term “hometown club”
thrown around as if it is some kind of X-Factor in a deal. It happens all the
time. I remember hearing reports about CC Sabathia possibly being lured by the
Dodgers and Angels. The reason? He is from southern California. Where did he end
up? New York who offered the big contract.
Now I’m hearing that Tex is
receiving an offer from the Baltimore Orioles who play not so far from Severna
Park, Maryland where he grew up. Is this something that will motivate him to
sign with the O’s? Or will he ultimately end up in Boston where he is offered
something ridiculous like $200 million?
If I was a ball player, and I was
offered two contracts: (6yrs/$60million from Philadelphia and 8yrs/$150million
from New York) I would pick the Phillies, hands-down, no hesitation. To me, it’s
a no brainer. I would take less money to play for the team I grew up loving
over a truck-load of money and a pool full of green jell-o from either New York
I don’t understand how more
players are not motivated by this same sense of hometown pride. During the
world series, it was well documented that Jamie Moyer grew up a Phillies fan
and was overjoyed by the opportunity to pitch for them in the world series, to
the extent that he started game 3 despite suffering from the stomach flu the
Am I the only crazy one here? Or
has free agency become about nothing but dollars and cents?
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up on finals week here at good ol’ Penn State University; so needless to say my
schedule and workload as of late have been – in a word – NUTS!
apologize for my lack of blogging in the last couple weeks, but hopefully soon
I will have the time to catch up on a few things.
did, however, wake up to the irritating buzz of my cell phone with an automated
MLB.com update (cheap plug). It read, and I quote: “The NY Post is reporting that
CC Sabathia has agreed to a six-year deal with the Yankees.”
I sighed to myself is a British accent (I was still half asleep).
really wasn’t too surprised by the signing. It was quite apparent how much the
Yankees wanted him and were willing to do whatever it took to bring him to the
Bronx. Mission accomplished. I’m sure the blogosphere was flooded with happy
Yankee fans (especially you, Jane) just thrilled. And I’m happy for all of you,
I really am. I mean it. Seriously.
signing still upsets me, however. Not because I hate the Yankees (I do) but
because it’s bad for baseball in a sense. CC is a good pitcher, but free agency
in baseball is a phenomenon all in its own in that it builds up players and
expectations sometimes too high. We seem to often confuse the best pitcher in
the current market as being the best pitcher in baseball, which is not always
a great pitcher, no doubt about it. But before last year, he was barely a blip
on anyone’s radar outside of Cleveland. He was just a good pitcher for an okay
team. In my mind, the best pitchers in baseball are Roy Halladay, Brandon Webb,
and – given his 2008 postseason performance – Cole Hamels. You can make a good
case for Johan Santana and Tim Lindsecum right now, and maybe CC Sabathia, but
you also have to consider longevity rather than who’s the latest “Johhny Come
2007 hit and CC became the staff ace on a surprisingly good Indians team that
took out said Bronx Bombers in the divisional round of the playoffs. Recently,
the Milwaukee Brewers rode his left arm to the playoffs themselves. However, he
collapsed against the Red Sox and Phillies in the playoffs; a habit Yankees
fans will soon come to hate if he can’t turn it around.
I don’t like about a 7-year $161 million contract (with an opt-out option after
3 years) for CC Sabathia is that it will do nothing more than raise prices on
2009 free agents. You can argue that CC is worth that kind of money, and I
could easily be persuaded to believe you. But will next year’s top pitcher be
worth 7-years $180 million?
point is that the business of baseball, like most other sports, builds upon
itself and reacts to yesterday’s trends. The NFL is addressing the possibility
of a rookie-cap based off of the ridiculous trend that saw Matt Ryan sign a
contract worth more than 80% of the starting quarterbacks’ who have been in the
league for years. A precedent needs to be set in baseball before we’re teams
are in a bidding war over players like Robinson Cano and Kevin Youkolis.
players are worth that kind of money, most aren’t. And just because they are
the best on the market doesn’t mean they deserve that kind of money. You can’t
blame the players and you can’t necessarily blame the teams (although sometimes
the Yankees should be to blame).
can you blame?
not one to name names.
Maybe I’m still riding a high from the Phillies world series victory, or maybe I’m just crazy.
But here it is mid-November, a time when baseball is on sleep-mode, and I am still glued to MLB.com (cheap plug), ESPN.com and any other web-site that could potentially provide info on recent free-agent news.
I’m excited because this is such an exciting time of year for so many teams, a time when everyone can put last years failures behind them and look forward to 2009 with all the hope in the world. It is a time of year where the makeup of a team can change over night and one player added or subtracted can turn a pretender into a contender.
Here are a couple of off-season stories that I find particularly interesting:
Holliday to the A’s, who’d-a-thunk it?
I really wasn’t aware the A’s were a player in the Holliday sweepstakes, but then again, none of the Oakland A’s transaction make sense to me. What blows my mind every season is how the A’s can trade away another solid player (Jermaine Dye, Miguel Tejada, Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, Rich Harden, Dan Haren) and somehow replace him with someone you’ve never heard of who’s just as good. There’s something in the water in the Oakland farm system because it appears anyone you plug into the A’s lineup comes out solid.
The problem is while the team always come out solid, it’ amounted to a big goose-egg in the playoff series win column. This year, however, they’re the ones adding the all-star and former MVP candidate. Maybe this can give them the spark they need to put them over the hill. Who knows?
Is Peavy going to the Braves or not?
Atlanta is another one of those teams in the NL that looks good on paper but just doesn’t seem to be able to pull it together at the same time. They’re another one of those teams with a solid farm system to plug in a new guy when an old guy leaves, most recently, Jeff Franceour. But most of that farm system, if not a whole Single-A franchise, went to Texas for Mark Texieira last season, so that’s another big question mark.
Chipper Jones could have hit a bottle cap with a pencil in April-early June, and they’re hoping he can do that for a whole season again in ’09. Hampton’s contract is up so he’s looking for somewhere else to go collect $100 million for doing absolutely nothing.
Simply put, they need pitching to compete in their division against the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies (I’ll take any excuse to throw that in there) and the New York Mets who are becoming the Junior Yankees by spending ridiculous amounts of money each season resulting in absolutely no change. Peavy might be a good fit, but they have more problems, like finding a new Single-A team.
Who are the Yankees gonna buy for Joe Girardi for Christmas this year?
“The Boss Jr.” seems to be sticking by George’s old philosophies that haven’t worked since the 90’s and this offseason shows no indication of that changing. In my mind, I see Hank going after Merk Texieira and C.C. Sabathia who might be the two best free agents not named Manny Ramirez. Both players fit their needs (a power-hitting first baseman and a solid starter) and Texieira gives them the powerful switch hitter they haven’t seen since Bernie Williams. But he’s not the second coming of Mickey Mantle and won’t hide the fact that the team is not as much of a team as they are a collection of All-Stars wearing the same uniform. There’s a reason they haven’t won it all since 2000. It’s time for a change in philosophy from the top-down.
Manny will be Manny no matter where he is.
LA wants him, there’s no doubt about it, but like I’ve said before, the Dodgers need more than him to get any further than they did last year. Manny’s probably the best hitter in baseball, but if I were the Dodgers, I think I’d rather spend $100 million on 3 or 4 solid players than one superstar. Maybe they can get him to sign for less, maybe not, but Manny wants years.
Yes, I’d love to see him in a Phillies uniform, there’s no doubt about it. Anyone have a problem with that?
Manny’s won rings, so he’s not looking to get any monkeys off his back. He wants a home. He wants to settle in somehwere to end his career on a high-note instead of becoming a slugger-for-hire. Whoever can offer him five years or moe will get him regardless of the dollar figure, I think.
Any disagreements? I would love to start a discussion. Please comment.