So it’s that time of the “hot-stove” season where the checks are signed, the wallets are emptied and if you listen to most of the GM’s out there, it’s when teams “prove” to the fans that they are serious about contending next year. Also, this is when Scott Boras rubs his hands together and licks his lips as he gets his spiked hooks into another bankroll. In fact, this time has pretty much come and gone when looking at the free agent bats. So let’s take a closer glimpse at what teams have picked up for big hitters and what they paid (and what they will regret later).
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs: 8 years, $136 mil.
If this was where the bar was set… well it’s a pretty goddamn high bar. I mean, you need oxygen tanks and a sherpa just to get to the top of this thing. I have a hard time deciding what’s worse: the tons of years or the tons of money? For a guy who basically can’t play the field, this is a crazy deal for an NL team. Oh, and the only thing worse than his glove is his OPB and OPS. But maybe I’m wrong! Maybe by the time he’s 38 (when this contract expires) he will learn some plate discipline… or like every OTHER expensive Cub, he could get hurt and end up getting millions for going into traction. Whichever way it goes, Soriano is going to be buying steaks from the same stores as Beltran and A-rod. This is such a crazy deal it’s even hard to make fun of. Well done sir.
Jim Edmonds, Cardinals: 2 years, $19 mil.
I bet he’s glad he’s staying it St. Louis cause he already knows all the doctors there. I know the Cards just won the World Series and Edmonds was a big part of that, but isn’t 2 years kind of a stretch? What’s the over/under on games he’ll play next year? 120? 100? I just hope he didn’t throw out his back when he jumped for joy after signing the contract. I kid, I kid. It’s not an awful deal, he plays really tough and hasn’t missed TOO too many games in the past… unlike…
Nomar Garciaparra, Dodgers: 2 years, $18.5 mil.
Another of the walking wounded. Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE NOMAH… but I would never give this guy 2 years without him proving his organs won’t spill out on the ground first. Wrist, ankle, groin, leg, back, and now he’s a pain in the wallet. Ouch… but still a better bet than…
Frank Thomas, Blue Jays: 2 years, $18.2 mil.
The Big Hurt was one of the most exciting players to watch… 8 years ago. I was happy to see his reemergence on that scrappy A’s team, but he runs like me after 12 beers. Slow, unsteady and everyone is just praying he doesn’t get severely injured doing something simple. For me the simple task is peeing in the woods, for Thomas it’s legging out a double… both usually end in hilarity or calamity. If Edmonds has an over/under on games played at 120, then Thomas is nearer to 90 over 2 years. Haven’t any of these teams heard of an option for the second year? It’s MADNESS!!
Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: 5 years, $75 mil.
Yeah, I don’t know. On paper this seems like a HALFWAY sensible deal, 28 year old that hits for power and can field a position that doesn’t have too many stars (beside the 2 in New York). Yet, $15 mil used to be superstar money. It seems so weird that this is market value now. So just being semi-competent at your position and a questionable all-star hitter now guarantees $10 mil+ a year. This is how the winds have shifted.
Juan Pierre, Dodgers: 5 years, $44 mil.
A couple of clubs have multiple listings on this dubious list. Maybe you shouldn’t read too much into it, but the guys signing the checks might be making more than one mistake. Go figure. Anyway, you think that Pierre figured the Dodgers had a wrong number when they gave him this deal? This is MAJOR BANK to pay for stolen bases and fielding. Small ball and big bucks usually don’t mix and this is way. And 5 years? What’s gonna happen when the miles start to pack on during year 3? Suddenly Juan isn’t so speedy and $9 mil a year looks a little bit bigger.
Gary Matthews Jr., Angels: 5 years, $50 mil.
Nobody has ever paid more for one catch. It was a GREAT catch, but I thought you only get $50 million straight up if you do it on America’s Funniest Home Videos. Why would anyone give a contract like this to a guy who waited till he was 32 to have his breakout season? Is he the latest bloomer EVER? He still hasn’t hit 20 HR or had a 100 RBI season, so WHY is he getting $10 mil a year? Must be that catch.
Carlos Lee, Astros: 6 years, $100 mil.
This one has me slack-jawed. Maybe you could argue that it’s what the market will stand, and maybe offensively challenged Houston is a good match for him and maybe they even have the cash to burn… but $100 mil is just… well it’s a freaking PILE of money. He never has come close to a major yearly award, doesn’t hit for an amazing average, isn’t the greatest fielder and isn’t really a threat to hit 40 homeruns. There is no doubt he really helps this offence, but is it worth it? Apparently yes! This is exactly what scares me about unchecked GM’s throwing wads of cash at players. After awhile it seems normal.
Gary Sheffield, Tigers: Traded.
The Yankees unloaded the cantankerous Sheff for 3 pitchers nobody’s every heard of (that have since been spun by the NY media into 3 mini Pedros) and a bucket of balls. This could be a solid pickup for the Tigers who need a good DH because Dimitri Young might not be able to stay out of jail. There is definitely some pop left in this jerk’s bat and he seems to want to prove he still can bite the heads off babies and sucker punch nuns. God I hate this guy.
J.D. Drew, Red Sox?: 4 years, $45 mil.
Well this could be a good investment if “J.D.” stood for “Johnny Damon” and it was for less money. Every time I see an article saying that this deal is close I want to curl up into a ball. This makes no sense. Has he ever played over 120 games a season? Does he hit 30 homers every season? Does he get along with tough crowds and handle criticism well? No, no and no. So what the hell is he gonna do in Boston?!?! This is going to make Rent-a-wreck and Clement look like amazing deals. Just wait till they start comparing him to Trot. Ugh… I just threw-up a bit.
Manny Ramirez, Giants? Dodgers? Padres?: Traded.
This is the big one. Looking at all this other craziness, the last 2 years of Manny’s contract looks pretty damn sweet. He is a perennial all-star (but always sits out), he always hits (even when asking to be traded) and is the best protection Ortiz could ever get in a lineup. I wouldn’t trade Manny for all the “questionable ace” pitchers in Japan, but I know he is going to finish his career on another team. In two years, someone is going to throw a bunch of money at him and give him a great speech about how well he’ll be treated and how nobody will bother him and how great the new city is… and Manny will leave. I have no doubts about this. The only question is should the Sox try and get some value right now while his value is near peak. Honestly? I think it depends on what you get. A few AA pitchers? No way in the hottest hell. A proven closer, a bunch of A+ quality rookies and a solid bat? Let’s talk. Other than that… I can’t even think about this.
So could someone tell me why the Red Sox can’t seem to think of anything else?