More thoughts on Aramis’s and Alfonso’s pay day: Coco and Wily Mo, Matsuzaka and Drew (fine, those last two don’t rhyme)

November 20th, 2006 → 7:48 pm @

The $8 billion to Cubs paid out to Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano make a couple of things clear:

* Despite all the talk about a new, smarter generation of GMs, there are still folks who are more than willing to shell out crazy amounts of money regardless of the long-term consequences.

* Coco Crisp’s three-year, $15.5 million contract extension (with an $8 million team option for 2010) is looking a lot more attractive. How attractive? Well, as Buster Olney points out, Carlos Lee, one of the remaining big-time free agents on the market, must be salivating at the prospect of an obscene payday (Lee is already said to have a five-year, $60 million deal on the table). From ages 24-26, Lee averaged (and I’m eyeballing this), a .275 average, a .345 OBP, and a .475 slugging percentage. If you take at face-value the notion that Coco was injured last year, his 24 and 25 year old seasons average out to somewhere around .298, .345, .450. That’s $7 million more a year for 25 points of slugging percentage. Let’s say Coco does end up being a bust; it still puts the Sox’s decision in much better perspective.

* Speaking of perspective, the WMP deal — while still, considering the dearth of good pitching (to say nothing of good two-tone mullets), an occasionally painful one — makes even more sense. Here’s a guy who has the potential to be an absolute monster who’s under the Sox’s control for two more years.

* All of which offers one more illustration of why it made sense to offer up that $51.1 million posting figure for Matsuzaka. The Sox have the revenue to spend a lot on payroll, but don’t want to shell out obscene amounts for free agents who want to be signing until they’re 52 years old. They do, however, want to spend that money on 26-year old studs.

* Finally, if the Sox were really thinking about J.D. Drew as a Trot replacement, that option just got a helluva lot more expensive. It’ll be interesting to see what happens here; overpaying on dollars and years for someone like Drew would seem to go against everything the Sox have been working towards as of late; on the other hand, maybe they can get Drew at a relative bargain because of his injury history.

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & Alfonso Soriano & Coco Crisp & Daisuke Matsuzaka & J.D. Drew & Red Sox front office & Wily Mo Pena

Soriano offers justification for keeping Manny and that $51.1 posting fee for Matsuzaka

November 20th, 2006 → 11:59 am @

In other news, the Soriano signing may mean, as Gammons says, that the Cubs are turning themselves into instant contenders; it also highlights just what a good deal Manny Ramirez is for the remaining two years (and $36 mil or so) of his contract. In order to land Soriano, the Cubs shelled out $136 million over eight years. For those of you keeping track at home, that means Soriano will be earning $17 million a year through 2014, when he’ll be 38 years old. Seriously, think about that: Congressmen will need to run four times before Soriano needs to think about his next job. There’ll be two presidential elections. Even Senators will need to make their case to the public. But not Alfonso…who has never been as consistent an offensive force as Manny (and is arguably as much of an adventure in the field).

The Soriano deal shows the extent to which the market has gone crazy; it’s the biggest deal since the $141 million contract extension Todd Helton landed before the 2001 season, and pretty much marks an official return to the 2000-2001 insanity. (If history holds, only a couple of this year’s mega-signings will pan out; Manny and Mike Mussina are the only guys from the 2000 class who can be said to have paid off.)

This year’s funny money contracts also point to why the Sox’s mega-offer for the negotiating rights to Matsuzaka arguably makes sense. As the always eloquent David Leonhardt points out in yesterday’s Times, “Matsuzaka is unlike any other free agent on the market this year — or almost any other year. He is 26, an age when a typical pitcher is in his prime and yet usually too young to be a free agent. Players who come up through the minor leagues generally don’t have the chance to test the market and choose their own team until after they have spent six seasons in Major League Baseball, according to free agency rules. By then, they are typically in their late 20s, or even their early 30s, and their performance is already starting to slide. This, more than anything else, explains why so many free-agent signings turn out to be busts.” (Why is it that it takes a business writer to explain the economics of baseball? Why couldn’t, say, the Times‘s baseball columnist have attempted to understand (and explain) this?) This is also the framework through which it makes sense to look at a bunch of the Sox’s recent moves: the Arroyo for Wily Mo (D.O.B. 1/23/82) deal; the Crisp (D.O.B. 11/1/79) acquisition; even the Beckett (D.O.B. 5/15/80) deal.

It’s not even Thanksgiving (you remember Thanksgiving, right?) and the Hot Stove has already boiled over. (I’m sorry. Really: I’ll avoid the stupid stove puns for the rest of the offseason.) It’s going to be an interesting couple of months.

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & Alfonso Soriano & Daisuke Matsuzaka & David Leonhardt & New York Times & Red Sox front office