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Talk baseball all season long with SI.com's Jacob Luft in Baseball Chatter, a journal for hot topic debates, Sabermetric ramblings and reader-driven discussions.
12/05/2006 12:22:00 PM

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

The Dodgers did well to bring back Nomar Garciaparra.
The Dodgers did well to bring back Nomar Garciaparra.
Robert Beck/SI
Let's play a little game of catch-up on the key offseason moves to date as the Winter Meetings get into full swing. We'll update with new posts as major moves go down this week, but for now let's review the story so far:

Five Deals I like

Gary Sheffield, OF-DH, Tigers (via trade)
By the time he's through, Sheffield will have had the most itinerant career for a Hall of Famer since Gaylord Perry. As great a hitter as he is, he simply cannot avoid wearing out his welcome. Look at his career. Do you realize he's going to go into the Hall with a Marlins cap? But that's of no concern for the Tigers, who found an anchor for their uneven lineup by trading from a position of strength. The Yankees may end up winners in this deal too if one of the three quality young arms they acquired from Detroit (notably Humberto Sanchez) prove to be useful.

Nomar Garciaparra, 1B, Dodgers (2 years, $18.5 million)
He both dominated and struggled at times last season, but the Dodgers couldn't afford to let him go. If he gets hurt, then we'll see if James Loney is ready to take over full time. With J.D. Drew gone, the Dodgers might need to find a way to get them both in the lineup, especially if the rumored Manny Ramirez trade doesn't happen.

Gary Matthews Jr., CF, Angels (5 years, $50 million)
This is one of the most heavily criticized moves of the winter, and I tend to agree that it's too much money for a 32-year-old journeyman coming off of a career year. Matthews is not likely to repeat his 2006 numbers again during the course of this contract, but he might come close on a fairly consistent basis. Look at the Angels' lineup from last season. Other than Vladimir Guerrero and Juan Rivera, they stunk. Their two primary center fielders, Chone Figgins and Darin Erstad, posted an OPS-plus of 89 and 60, respectively. (An OPS-plus of 100 is average; the statistic is park-adjusted.) That'terrible. Even if Matthews is average, it's a major upgrade for them.

Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs (5 years, $75 million)
He'll be 28 on Opening Day, so the length of the deal isn't a major drawback. Besides, if the Cubs let this guy get away, it might take them another 30 years to find a decent third baseman.

The Matsuzaka bid
Yes, the Red Sox outbid themselves with the $51.1 million posting fee, but look at it this way: Boston has money to burn and it desperately needs pitching. Ergo, the posting fee and whatever they end up paying Daisuke Matsuzaka makes sense. The Japanese ace is entering his prime years and it won't cost any talent to sign him -- just cash. Even if ticket prices go up at Fenway as a result, Red Sox fans already are paying the equivalent of a second mortgage to watch their team play. It's Monopoly money at this point, for the team and the fans, and Matsuzaka is talented enough to get them over the top in the AL playoff race.

Honorable mention: Mike Mussina agreeing to stay in the Bronx; the Mets' signing Orlando Hernandez, Tom Glavine and Moises Alou; both ends of the Indians-Padres trade, which sent second baseman Josh Barfield to Cleveland and third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff to San Diego; the Cardinals keeping Jim Edmonds for two seasons at $19 million; the D'backs getting underrated left-hander Doug Davis from Milwaukee; Texas snagging the useful Frank Catalanottto away from Toronto; Sean Casey, overrated as he is, at the bargain-basement rate of one year, $4 million.

Five Deals I Don't Like

Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs (8 years, $136 million)
Soriano is never going to be patient enough to be the bellwether of an offense the way Albert Pujols and Manny Ramirez are, but he is a dynamic player who can hit 40 home runs in any park, especially Wrigley Field. Eight years, though? That is an awfully long time to expect a player to live up to his contract. Soriano will be 31 on Opening Day. It would take some Weimar Republic-like inflation for him to be worth anywhere close to $17 million a year in his late thirties.

Juan Pierre, CF, Dodgers (5 years, $44 million)
Pierre's been living on reputation for a while now. He hasn't posted an OBP above .350 since 2004. He makes at least 500 outs a year. He can still chase 'em down in center but he has a popgun arm. The White Sox kept Scott Podsednik for one year, $2.9 million. The Giants signed Dave Roberts for $18 million over three years. I don't see how Pierre is any better than either of those other two players.

Carlos Lee, OF, Astros (6 years, $100 million)
He's a lot like Soriano in that he puts up the shiny numbers that most people care about -- home runs and RBIs. But look deeper and you see a guy who doesn't walk much, has never posted an OPS-plus higher than 125 and is now on the wrong side of 30.

Frank Thomas, DH, Blue Jays (2 years, $18 million)
Paying full price for last year's bargain does not a Moneyball team make, but at least Thomas is a difference-maker when healthy, which is more than I can say for Toronto's new shortstop, Royce Clayton.

Alex Gonzalez, SS, Reds (3 years, $14,000,000)
The Red Sox had the right idea with him -- he's a potentially decent stopgap. He might enjoy a one-year resurgence in power thanks to the GABP, but otherwise Reds fans can expect more of the same from a player with a career .292 OBP and fading defense. This isn't nearly as bad news for Reds fans as the hiring of Thom "Amaaaazing" Brennaman and Jeff Brantley to the announcing team. Shudders.

Dis-honorable mention: Philly giving two years and $5.45 million to role player Wes Helms (yet another consequence of the awful Placido Polanco trade) and $24.5 million to the below-average Adam Eaton (career ERA-plus of 92); the Angels breaking the bank for setup man Justin Speier when they already have a loaded bullpen; pretty much anything done by Baltimore (Kevin Millar, Jaret Wright and a string of overpriced relievers).
posted by JL | View comments |  

Comments:

Posted: 12:55 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
Does this mean I won't have to see Jeff Brantley an national coverage anymore? If so, I thank the Reds from the bottom of my heart...and Griffey's hamstring.
Posted: 1:12 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
I never thought it was possible to work the Weimar Republic into a hot stove conversation, but there you go, my congratulations, i never knew you were so learned.
Posted: 1:17 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
As much as Aurilia, Feliz, and Durham fill holes for the Giants, it just smells like the Giants are going to play old ball until Barroids retires. I know the market went crazy, but is that really all the Giants can do? What a sad state of affairs for a long and storied franchise.
I too am mightily impressed by your Weimar Republic reference! It's a rare day when I can slake my baseball and history joneses in the same piece, and on SI to boot!
Posted: 1:31 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
Sox are a cash machine-trying to and buying up all the area around Fenway. I will never understand how u give a pitcher u know little about so much $$$$,its not like he is a proven MLB #1 guy and I think the hitters over there r alot weaker than MLB players.
Posted: 1:38 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
I think Jaret Wright being reunited with Leo Mazzone is a good deal for the Orioles, just not enough to make a difference. Any chance they get Russ Ortiz and Mike Hampton to fill out the rotation?
Come back tomorrow and I might have some Vichy France for you.
Giving a thumbs up to the Angels paying Matthews is a good way to get your thumb lopped off...what a horrible waste of money that deal was.
Posted: 2:46 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
If the Weimar Republic ended with the rise of Hitler, what does that say for Soriano and the Cubs?
Posted: 3:05 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
In your comparison of Figgins to Matthews, it's important to realize that you're comparing Figgins' worst year to Matthews' best. Look at the career OPS+ numbers for the two -- Figgins actually edges out Matthews slightly, 97 to 96. Add in the fact that Figgins is a far superior base stealer, and it looks like it might actually be a downgrade.

Maybe the worst part of the deal is that it's probably going to force Maicer Izturis, who is likely superior to Figgins, to sit on the bench while Figgins plays 3rd base.
Posted: 3:17 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
how is gonzalez defense fading?
Posted: 3:19 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
How about a contract for Sammy Sosa at minimum. They guy just wants to prove he can hit a few clean home runs to reach 600.
This post has been removed by a blog administrator.
Posted: 3:31 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
to the Orioles fan asking about Mike Hampton:
You can have him and Marcus Giles if you'll take their contracts and give us Brian Roberts.
Posted: 3:32 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
sean casey overrated? did you see the world series? besides, to be overrated you have to be rated at all. it's not like people are going around talking about casey as a hall of famer, or even an all star, or really talking about him at all.
Posted: 3:37 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
I disagree with your comment on Frank Thomas. It is a risk that every team makes at one point or another and if he has the kind of year he had last year, Toronto will be contending. (Just look at their lineup from 1-6) As far as the Clayton signing goes, they don't need any more offensive players in the lineup they just needed a shortstop to compliment Aaron Hill.
Posted: 3:39 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
i'll give you vichy france. frank thomas is vichy france. he rewards the team that gave him a shot when no one wanted him by jumping ship. when oakland cobbles together another playoff team and toronto finishes third, the analogy will be complete. thomas, like the vichy, will end up on the wrong side of the final outcome.
Posted: 3:39 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
The Cardinals Carpenter extension should rank up their in the top five deals as well. Only $13 mil a year for Carp while Zito will get at least $15 mil a year? That's a steal.
Posted: 3:45 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
I think the Phillies felt so bad for trading Adam Eaton for Andy Ashby in '99 that they had to make it up to him.
Posted: 3:59 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
not to pile on poor Jeff Brantley, but the man really sounds like an ignorant hillbilly when he says "hisself" instead of "himself"; as in "he's got to get hisself out of a jam here". It's not about being an intellectual snob, it's about speaking the English language correctly. Maybe people think it makes him sound folksy and cute, but I think it makes him sound like a moron cannot be taken seriously. just my $.02
Posted: 4:00 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
Gary Sheffield in the Hall? You have to be kidding.
Posted: 4:05 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
I'm sick of people ripping the Orioles for "overpaying" for middle relief. They finally seem to be executing on a plan, and they get ripped in the media. Heck yea they have to overpay for players. Why not overpay $1 million or so for a good middle reliever that fits a real need rather than overpaying $10-$15 million for a player like Soriano or Lee. They went out and got 3 of the 4 top relief pitchers and overpaid what, a total of $3 million? That sounds pretty good to me. And, why were the Wright or Millar signings so bad? They traded away a middle reliever they didin't need and have to pay a viable MLB starter ONLY $3 million? That's a bad move? They sign Millar to a reasonable 1 year contract to play 1B, DH and pinch hit? That's a bad move? Now, these moves don;t cure all the Orioles' ills, but they do indicate a thoughtful, reasonable and rationale plan for the future. Plus, they have pieces they can trade to fill other needs. This is the first year in recent memory where the Orioles should be applauded for their efforts and not simply systematically criticised because it is the easy thing to do.
Posted: 4:13 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
Really don't get why people still don't understand the Red Sox (any many other teams) scouted Matsuzaka for over a year. They know a little about him..

Gonzalez' deal was hardly a bad one. I know he can't hit, but he has a decent glove, and it was not like the Red'overpaid.
Posted: 4:24 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
I agree. The Orioles are are doing some crazy stuff. But, they are actually DOING something!!! If they pull out a good hitter in a trade, they may be able to pull off a coup and steal the wild card. If I sound like a homer, you have to look at it this way. The Orioles were statistically similar to the Angels as far as offense. Imagine if Miguel had someone hitting behind him. The starting pitching sans Rodrigo Lopez, Bruce Chen and Russ Ortiz wasn't horrid. Chris Ray was phenominal until the season wore on him. The worst part of the Orioles team last year was the bullpen. Whereas they didn't go buy a stack of guys with sub-2.00 ERAs, they figure to improve by at least 1 run a game on average. Last time I checked, it was still possible to win 1-run games.
Posted: 4:31 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
So Frank Thomas' contract is one of your 5 worst signings but Nomar Garciaparra's is not? Please explain. Thomas had more home runs and rbi's than Garciaparra and played in more games. And Thomas gets to hit in the Roger's Center, a definite hitter's ball park. I think you have it the wrong way.
Posted: 5:10 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
Sorry man, but you realize you gave thumbs up to Gary Matthews for making 10 million a year over 5 years, and yet criticize Frank Thomas getting only 2 years at only 9 million right? The guy was an MVP candidate and compared to what Lee and Soriano got, and what Drew is gonna get, 9 million ain't too bad considering what Thomas did last year, with the lineup that surrounded him.
Posted: 5:39 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
When the 2014 season starts up, will Soriano's contract necessarily look bad? Prorating his bonus, he will make $19 million the last five years of his contract.

2007's top salaries are around $20 million (ARod, Jeter, Giambi, ManRam.) 8 years ago, there were 4 $10 million players (Albert Belle, Pedro Martinez, Kevin Brown and Greg Maddux) with two others above $9.75 million (Gary Sheffield and Bernie Williams). ASSUMING linear salary growth, 2014's top player salaries will be in the $30 million neighborhood. Soriano's contract might be a bargain at less than half that. In 1998, the following players made about half the maximum salary (around $5 million): Will Clark, Paul O'Neill, Travis Fryman, Bernard Gilkey, Todd Hundley, Raul Mondesi, John Valentin, Lance Johnson, Ron Gant, Greg Vaughn. (That said, Soriano's contract

Nomar's contract is a very reasonable gamble by the Dodgers. Compare what the Mets will pay 40+ Moises Alou! Nomar is good bet to produce better than that, even if he can be as fragile as a Ming vase.
Posted: 6:16 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
Heil!!!!
Posted: 6:25 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
I hope the Drew deal goes down as the worst one yet... why would you ever give him 75 million?
Posted: 6:40 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
The Giants signing Feliz for a year at $5.1 million is painful. Sabean's inability to judge young talent (i.e., Liriano, Bonser, Nathan, Hensley) and non-talent (Feliz, Benitez) is mind boggling. At least Sabean is predictably horrible. The Giants are sunk again.
Posted: 6:46 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
The Giants signing Feliz for $5.1 million has to be one of the worst. A .244, non-clutch hitter with 90 plus RBI of which only a fraction were meaningful. I'd take my chances with Aurila at third and resign Hilenbrand at first if they don't trade for Sexon. Prediction: by the end of the year, Feliz will be an overpaid backup/pinch hitter as opposed to an overpaid starter. Who is his agent? Sabean's brother in law?
Posted: 6:47 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
As a Sox fan, I sincerely hope JD Drew invents and ingests some new non-detectable steroids this winter, because he's got a lot of improving to do to be worth $15 Millyuns.
I can't think of a worse deal than 5 years 70 million for Nancy Drew. I know this deal wasn't done before this article, but it still makes me sick. At least teammates like Soriano.
Posted: 8:51 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
I completely disagrees with you in regards to Gary Matthews Jr. His contract is nearly as bad as Juan Pierre's. Both are league average at best outfielders signed for way too much money for way too long a period. Those two are co #1 for me as worst contracts. Soriano's contract is bad because of its length but at least Soriano will perform at or near an all-star level for the next couple seasons. Pierre and Matthews' performance is going to be closer to replacement level than all-star level over the next couple years.

On the other hand, the Frank Thomas deal is a reasonable gamble. If he stays healthy, he will rake.

I also don't understand why you would put Justin Speier as part of your dishonourable mention and not any of the 4 marquee bullpen signings by the Orioles. Justin Speier is battle tested in the AL East and was the best reliever available in the FA market, the contract he got was overpriced, but it was more reasonable than what Danys Baez and Jamie Walker got. The only reason why Baez got more money per year than Speier is because he has a bunch of worthless TB saves in his resume, the track record shows Speier to be a superior pitcher. Walker is a good pitcher, but he is a LOOGY for god sakes. Situational pitchers don't deserve long term contracts and definitely not one that pays him $4mil a year.
My fear was that my Red Sox would resign Alex Gonzales. Thankfully they did not and what a relief. The guy can field well but is a lousy hitter, cannot hit in the clutch, has no speed to steal a base, and has no plate discipline. In other words he's a complete offensive washout.
Posted: 9:34 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
It doesn't matter if the Orioles are doing anything if it's wrong. Instead of going out and getting Chad Bradford, Danys Baez, Jamie Walker and John Parrish. They should just go out and get a outfielder The Orioles aren't gonna be in enough games for these relivers to help if they have no one who can hit behind Miggy.
Posted: 9:49 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
The best deal was the deal not done, Manny will stay in Boston. We should trade the writers who constantly berate the guy in the papers and make him want to leave Boston, and then say he hates the fans. It's the writers who should be fired, then thrown in the dumpster (Peter, I'm not talking about you!). Just maybe the guy was hurt. Give him a break! Then they spew hate at J.D. Drew while Grady Little did nothing but stand up for the guy. That's why Manny doesn't want to be in Boston.
Posted: 10:39 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
All writers are too harsh on Pierre. They forget that he hits over .290 and has 200 hits in 4 different seasons with mostly lousy teams. He steals 40-60 bases and with his speed he scores from 2nd on most singles. For some odd reason the writers and critics would be happier if he walked an extra 40 times per year. Let me ask - if he walked 40 more times but had 40 less hits, would his impact be greater? How many times would he score as a result of his walks vs. how many times would he drive a run in with his hit, and/or score after getting on base and using his speed to steal second and score on a single. This kind of insane logic is also being applied to Soriano. Tell me how many guys score 100 runs, get 180 plus hits, with 40 doubles, 35 plus HR and 90 plus RBI from the leadoff or 2nd spot, AND steal 40 bases. Instead of slagging the guy, look at the history of his success. He does it in every category. Maybe they would all be happier if he just walked an extra 2 times per week. Would he be a complete player then??????
Posted: 10:39 PM, December 05, 2006   by Michael
I have to disagree about the Gary Matthews deal. The man has had one good season. One. And that deserves 10 mil a year? Ludicrous. And he's 32. The Angels are really going to regret this one.

Everyone has been trashing Juan Pierre, and while it's true his OBP isn't as high as it could be, the man can hit. He has a lifetime average of .303 and only Ichiro has more hits then him in the past 5 years. Plus he's 29 and can run like the wind. I think it was a good move. Now the Dodgers just need someone to bring him in.
Posted: 10:49 PM, December 05, 2006   by Anonymous
Could someone please explain to me why the Red Sox threw all of this money at a pitcher who has only proven himself on the equivalent of a AAA level? I would have been much happier if we had signed Zito, who is a proven and consistent major league pitcher.
And don't even get me started on the Drew deal...especially if he is supposed to be the replacement for Manny. That would be like trading a less angry, more bizarre T.O. for the Oakland Raiders version of Randy Moss.
Now I remember why I tend to skip over anything written by Jacob Luft...

How are Nomar and Matthews good moves and Thomas a bad move?

Also have to agree with the poster who mentioned Feliz. That dude has a CAREER OBP under .290.
Posted: 12:14 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
Any deal that is 2 years or less can be considered good. Anything more bad.

With a short deal, if it doesn't work out you cut your losses and move on. You might get stuck with Octavio Dotel for a year, but you might also get Frank Thomas for a year. The upside to one year deals far out weigh the downside. The opposite is true of long term deals. Very few players are sufficiently better than average to warrant the tremendous risk involved with long term deals.

Mo Vaughn, Albert Belle, Jason Giambi, Kevin Brown, Mike Hampton, Chan Ho Park, Darren Dreifort, Pat Burrell, even Alex Rodriguez. The ramifications of these deals are huge and affect the clubs for many seasons.
Posted: 1:29 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
You are all a bunch of arm chair baseball fans who have no idea what anyone will do next year. Injuries, head cases, bad attitudes, ego clashes, etc. etc. etc., what a joke. Anything could happen. If you all were so good at predicting the future, why aren't you all millionaires? My apologies to those who are.
Posted: 1:44 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
Juan Pierre makes a nice OF name pairing with Andre Ethier, but that's it. Pierre makes over 700 outs per year - we critics want those 40 walks to replace OUTS, not hits. He also wipes away the value of some of his hits by getting caught stealing OVER 25% of the time. Pierre is overpaid for it, but I might find that acceptable in the 8 hole, hacking in front of the pitcher instead of throwing away leadoff or #2 ABs - horrors! He's also a pretty poor fielder to boot.

You don't need ridiculous speed to score from 2B on most singles - Jacob Luft could score from 2B on most singles. Well, with two outs, a 3-2 pitch and a runner on first also!
Posted: 2:34 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
D-mat's only proven himself on a AAA level huh? I guess that makes sense, I mean afterall players from the MLB absolutely crushed the competition at the WBC this year.


oh wait! no silly me it was the exact opposite. don't underestimate the talent coming out of asia now. it isn't the 20th century anymore.
The worst deal of all, maybe one that simply hasn't happened yet.
The Giants failure to resign Bonds at any point during this past year, was a big $$$ mistake, as the crazy free agent market place, has driven even his value up. It seems the Giants will either pay thru the nose, or risk losing the only reason to watch a Giants game!
Posted: 2:45 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
The Cubs, by signing Soriano, will be about as successful as the Weimar Republic. I suppose then the Cubs will have to find some other sad scapegoat for their failures, the same way Hitler scapegoated the Jews for Germany's failures in WWI. Thanks for combining history and baseball, two of my great loves!
Posted: 2:47 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
what about keepnig Joe Morgan on the ESPN broadcast team? i'd rather fill my ears with hot glue.
Posted: 3:03 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
El Lay Dave, you mention Soriano making $19 mil the last five years and the average salary in 2014 should be around $30 mil. May have missed that day in math class, but tell me how 19 is less than HALF of 30??
Posted: 3:05 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
about Thomas, it's true, the Jays probably overpaid, but so what? Every team is "overpaying" for free agents this year, and 2 years won't kill a team in the long run...Toronto needs to spend the money and take risks or they have no chance to compete with the Yankees and the Yankees Jr.
Posted: 3:23 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
offshorepirate, read the message board at www.soxprospects.com and educate yourself, it's probably the most intelligent red sox talk on the internet.
Posted: 4:11 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
Did I write "700 outs" for Juan Pierre? I meant "500 outs". From outrageously ridiculous to utterly impalatable.
Posted: 8:46 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
why does everyone dump on Sheffield?

Several years ago as a Yankee he played with a shoulder so badly hurt he was unable to raise his glove hand above his shoulder. Yet, he played hard and well and every day. This past season after his freak first base accident he tried to come back early and re-injured his wrist. Then he said he would not return until he was sure he was 100%. Sports writers trashed him for being selfish. Huh? A few years ago Sheffield let the Yankees jigger with his money payout schedule to make salary cap room. He later discovered the money shifted to the out years cost him lost interest income and asked to be paid interest on monies so deferred. Steinbrenner agreed. But the press jumped on Sheffield! For what? Not having an MBA in finance the first time around and tying to help the yanks with their salary cap? Sheffield is not the bad boy you make him out to be. He is outspoken. I think he has matured. But look at the facts, don't distort them. Go Tigers.
Posted: 8:46 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
Worst: Julio Lugo.
Best: Jeff Brantley (possibly the worst announcer currently gettting paid to do it)
It always amazes me how the NY Mets insist on acting as the "poor cousins" of the NY Yankees by conducting business as though they were a mid-level market whearas they play in a huge market. With very few exceptions (Beltran a notable one), the Mets insist on signing or trading for older ex-stars whose best days are behind them (Alomar, Alou, Glavine, to mention but a FEW!). It also never cseases to amaze me how EACH year the fans hope for the NY brass to finally make a serious Commitment and fill in the gaps and EACH year the Mets fall short of that goal either by a little or by a lot. This organization FINALLY put together a decent (though very small) nucleus of young talent on the field; a nucleus that is BEGGING for a supporting cast and yet - same old, same old. It's frustrating for a Mets fan to follow trades during or off season because the average Mets fan just KNOWS that the Mets would predictably be out-bid and out-hussled by others.
AS a ticked off fan, I sincerely hope this team falls completely on its face this year and that it costs the Mets a LOT MORE money to remedy that which they were supposed to have done (and SHOULD/COULD have done) this winter.
What the Mets constantly fail to understand is the basic tenet of wisdom we all learn in our own lives - when you look for shortcuts, when you needlessly look to be frugal or get away with spending less pennies, you invariably end up spending much more money than you would have otherwise. 'Penny wise and dollar foolsih' has been the motto of the NY Mets for the lest 15-20 years and as is evident - the more things change........the more they stay exactly the same. Pathetic. Omar Minaya - GO HOME!
Posted: 9:33 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
The worst signing this year will be JD Drew to the Red Sox. For years we've Scott Boras tout Drew as the 2nd coming of Ted Williams and his contract demands have shown it, not to mention Drew is a me-first, in it for the $$ only, overrated player. Why else would the Phillies say no, the Cards trade him to the Braves prior to free ageny, the Braves not offering insane Boras $$, and the Dodgers telling him good riddance? I'll ask the question. What has Drew done to deserve such a ridiculous contract? The Sox will regret this one long before his 5 years are over.
Posted: 9:41 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
What about just leaving Joe Morgan OFF any broadcast team--Do us all a favor...
Posted: 9:54 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
Not quite sure why you say Alex Gonzalez is fading defensively.
He should have won the gold glove this past season over Jeter. Less errors and he made some spectacular plays as well.
Posted: 10:00 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
Vicente Padilla getting 11-plus per has got to be on this list...and you don't need to be a rocket scientist to know it's not on the good deals
How about some consistency in your analysis, JL? You rate the Matthews signing as a good one (despite the fact that it's a 5-year deal!) by citing the fact that he'll be filling a huge hole in the Angels' outfield. Yet you rate the Thomas deal as a bad one (despite the fact that it's only a 2-year deal) without any reference at all to the Jays' lineup. Check out the Jays' DH stats from last year - "anemic" would be kind. The analysis you applied to Matthews fits perfectly here: even if Thomas is only average, he will be a huge improvement. By your own standards, then, why is this not a good signing? (Not to mention that the chances of Matthews equaling his 2006 stats are slim to none, whereas the chances of Thomas equaling his are far greater).
Posted: 10:19 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
The Red Sox signing of Drew will only be worth the money when Schilling punches him out for being heartless.
Posted: 10:31 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
The Matthews deal to the Angels might have been okay if he was bringing along his Texas hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. Matthews gave Rudy all the credit for turning his "career" around and making him a consistent, productive major league hitter--for one year. Without Jaramillo around how long will it take to revert back to the .250 days? And J.D. Drew at $14 mil a year for 5 years, get ready Boston to pay an equal amount for medical care. Lastly, on a deal that has not been made but might--Texas wants to sign Zito, a fly ball pitcher for @ $100 mil to pitch in that band box? Granted he has had moderate success there, but don't they remember Chan Ho as in Out of the "Park"?
Posted: 10:36 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
You couldn't be more wrong about a the Frank Thomas deal, or the Gary Matthews deal. Just because the Angels needed help, doesn't mean overpaying somebody that much makes the deal good, it just means that they needed help that bad. For 10 million a year, imagine how much better Frank Thomas would have been in that lineup, for even less. Which is why the Thomas deal is so good, is that if you compare his numbers to any other player who signed for under 10 Mil a year, there's no contest. The Blue Jays got great value at a small risk.
Posted: 10:45 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
Drew's will have a record breaking year hitting behind Manny and Big Papi.
With Lester hopefully on the road of recovery and Matasushi(?), Curt,Papelbon,Beckett, all they need is a closer.
Posted: 10:51 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
Sorry... I have to disagree that Doug Davis is underrated. I'm a Brewer fan (not many of us around), and after watching him the last few years, I would have to say that he is incredibly frustrating to watch. Yes, he can throw a lot of innings, but he is a nibbler! He had a couple of good years in 2004 and 2005, but his ERA has gone up the last three years, and his WHIP was very bad last year because of his inability to throw strikes... or want to throw strikes. The league has figured him out and knows not to chase his inside slider anymore. He is at best a number four starter... and going to a pitchers park in AZ, he will probably post an ERA over 5 with a WHIP around 1.5 again.
Posted: 11:16 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
Classic sportswriter. Just criticize anything the Astros do. They get no respect from you people. Don't worry. We'll be laughing at you when Lee leads the team in HRs and Clemens & Pettite both come back to pitch for us. Just because you people want our stud pitchers to play for the Yankess doesn't mean that you need to make up fake reports like some other article I read.

P.S.- the Astros will be back in the World Series this year and we might actually win one of the games.
Posted: 11:33 AM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
First off, the accuracy of this column cannot really be assessed until these contracts have run their course. Gary Matthews might blow up over the next few years and that deal will seem like a bargain. Likewise, Aramis might tear a hamstring and never regain his old form. Who knows?

BUT...what we can assess is the initial assertion that Gary Sheffield is a guaranteed Hall of Famer. Wha-wha-WHAA?

Here's a guy who has lead his league in a any statistical category only 6 times (and I'm being generous here):

1992--BA, Total Bases
1996--OBP, OPS, Adjusted OPS+
1998--Salary

And as for overall numbers, let's do a quick comparison here between three players who will soon be Hall eligible:

PLAYER A: .297 BA/.398 OBP/.525 SLG 455 HR, 1501 RBI, 1433 Runs
PLAYER B: .288/.371/.515 569 HR, 1353 RBI, 1663 Runs
PLAYER C: .263/.394/.588 583 HR, 1414 RBI, 1167 Runs

All three of these players post similar power and productivity numbers. All three of these players (in order--Sheffield, Palmeiro, McGwire), are either known steroid users (Sheffield and Palmeiro), or highly suspected as such (McGwire).

Don't think there's anyway Sheff makes the Hall if Palmeiro and McGwire get shut out.
Posted: 12:01 PM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
how in god's name is Gonzalez defense fading?

Did you watch any Red Sox games last year?
Did you watch Alex Gonzalez play all those years with the Marlins, when he should have been winning Gold Gloves? I had this link up yesterday and it bears repeating: Look at Gonzalez's fielding win shares the past three seasons. Plus, look at the link I provided in the column. It shows him to be middle of the pack in range.
Posted: 12:13 PM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
What about the rangers?
they finally sign a good pither and they get no props?

By the way a special thank ou goes out to the angels front office for overpaying mathews. Now we can sign v. wells next year.
Posted: 12:17 PM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
At first I wondered if the two lists somehow got reversed during the editing process but then I realized I felt that way because most of the named deals on both lists were simply awful from a perspective of cost and/or playing value.

Sheffield is a good acquisition by the Tigers as he fits a need and probably won't be a disruption for a year. But going past that (and paying much more for it over an already expensive contract) is simply foolish both in terms of age and personality. Just as it is in the Thomas signing.

Matsuzaka's cost is outrageous (just as it was for Soriano and Lee) - no other way to describe it - unless the Sox intend to not sign him and thus keep him from the Yankees and presumably leave him available to anyone next year when his time in Japan is done.

Matthews had one year and is being rewarded as though he is a first-rate player. In case anyone wondered, he likely is not. Again this seems similar to the one good year Pierre had and is still living off years later.

So it is hard for me to see much difference among the best and worst lists, frankly.

I do wonder why re-signing perhaps the best pitcher in the NL (Carpenter) to an extended 5 year deal isn't included among the best however.
Posted: 12:44 PM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
This off season will go down as one to the most over paid. Apparently the old phrase of "just do something" is in vogue. The 1 year wonder's, Mr. POTENTIAL and he had a good year when he was healthy back in . . . are the hottest thing since sliced bread. The number of teams that have more money that common sense tripled this year. BTW, how much will Boston pay for Matsuzaka when they average in 10+ mil over 5 years on top of his glutonous salary. I think that will be higher than Mr. Clutch . . . aka A-Rod. Looks like there are 2 Evil Empires. Maybe, we should be rooting for Marlins vs Twins this year, although that will take away the humor of watching the overpaid stikeout-king whiff versus the 23 yr. old rookie middle reliever OR panning across the dugout at 40 to 50 million dollars of unable to perform PRIMA DONA's.
Can someone answer this question: Why do all the teams keeping hiring the recycled failures? Some of these presidents, vp's and gm's are as clueless as most of the sports writers!
I question how you can laud the Gary Matthews deal and degrade everything the Orioles have done. They had a need -- a very pressing need -- that they filled fairly well. Their bullpen was young and inconsistent last year. Hell, inconsistent is being nice. They were pretty awful, in fact. So what did the O's do? They went out and signed four relievers to help shore up that unit. Does that make them a contender? Absolutely not. But it does demonstrate that they aren't going to drag their feet this offseason. They made moves, and people noticed, particularly free agents. All those relievers will improve the team this year, but they'll have their biggest impact next season, provided the Orioles sign a big bat next year. If you had watched the Orioles on a consistent basis last year, you would have noticed that they lost a lot of close games in the late innings because of a faulty bullpen. At least they did something to help themselves.

As for the Wright trade, I'm not a huge fan, but if you have the opportunity to trade a reliever for a starter, you pull that trigger. Wright is a guy you sign to round out a rotation. The Orioles need an ace, not a back-end guy. That's for sure. But maybe working with Leo again will help him regain the form that landed him the big money from New York. It's a long shot, but I can't say I hate the move. It's a so-so deal, and like the relievers, certainly not worthy of your worst moves list.
Posted: 1:31 PM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
I'm from Mn and I'll give you 5 Rondells for one Frank
Posted: 1:36 PM, December 06, 2006   by Hate Both
Can you people specify which 'Sox' you are talking about in your posts? Red or White?
Posted: 1:44 PM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
Anonymous at 3:03 AM, December 06, 2006: Can I plead bleary-eyed analysis? (I also typoed the year, should be 1999, the 8th season back, which is where the $10 million man list came from, but the players' salaries listed earlier came from 1998 - oops again.)

$19 million is, of course, less than 2/3 of $30 million. In 1999, the following players collected salaries around 2/3 of $10 million: Paul O'Neill, David Justice, Ray Lankford, Roberto Alomar, John Valentin, Robin Ventura, Cal Ripken, Jeff Bagwell. (Honorable mention: Kenny Lofton at $7.5 million and Jay Bell (!) at $6.1 million) Similar, but slightly better company - at least there's one sure HOFer in there. I think the point still holds, Soriano may not be overpriced in the latter stages of that contract. (Of course, he could blow out his hammys and be a shadow of his former self, also.)
Posted: 1:53 PM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
I was surprised to find out that CNN had a sports section when a friend told me about the comedy you worte earlier.

Are you for real? I mean...you actually get paid to write crap like this?

How can you look at the deal the BoSox made to negotiate with Matsuzaka and call that a good deal and then call the signing of Gonzalez by the Reds one of the worst moves of the offseason is beyond me.

If Gonzalez is an improvement to a team at SS like he is to the Reds over Lopez and Claytoon than why is it one of the worst moves of the offseason? Isn't tthe objective of a GM to improve the talent a team has to work with? Considering the options out on the market along with the price tag on those options it appears to me that Gonzalez is a very respectable move for the Reds.

Matsuzaka is more than potential, he is unfreakin believable! But is he going to match the value of a $51m + his contract in value? I hope he does but that seems a very, very big gamble by Theo.

BTW, I am a Reds fan and why you took a swipe at Thom is beyond me...Again, who knew CNN even had a sports section anymore.
Posted: 2:08 PM, December 06, 2006   by Anonymous
I don't understand how the article can put Gary Matthews as a better deal than Juan Pierre. Neither of them are what they are worth but Matthews is a borderline backup. He had one good year, which in reality wasn't even that good. At least Pierre steals bases and gets 200 hits most years. He gives alot more than Matthews. As far as Sheffield goes, I agree with the guy who said he shouldn't be in the Hall. Everyone is knocking Mcgwire for steroids but no one remembers Sheffield rubbing cream on his knees in Yankee dugouts? He is as guilty as anyone else. And at 30 years old he suddenly found a way to stay healthy. Also, understandably the pitching market is out of control but its not right when Gil Meche will sign as a number 3 for 10 million and be paid more than most 1 and 2 pitchers on each staff. Someone needs to tell Barry Bongs he's not worth 18 million either anymore, not even 8 million.
The best move of this offseason was the Cardinals signing Chris Carpenter to a 5 year, $75 million dollar extension. That JD Drew and Aramis Ramirez signed deals with more annual money than Carpenter is hilarious.
Posted: 12:34 AM, December 07, 2006   by Anonymous
The money being spent on free agents is crazy. This in not value investing at all. The Angels spend $50M on Gary Matthews Jr. That is crazy. The Angels are supposed to have this "great" farm system. You mean they have nobody in the minors who can do what Matthews does for a lot less money? If recent history is any judge, nearly all of these free agents will not prove worth the money. Very few MLB GM's are any good. Most are horrible.
Posted: 5:23 PM, December 07, 2006   by Anonymous
He only said that Alex Gonzalez's defense was fading because he was signed by the Reds. Despite the fact that he is a MAJOR defensive improvement at shortstop over Lopez doesn't mean a thing. The Reds get no respect from the national media at all.

The only person who did support them was Jeff Brantley, so there will be virtually no support for the Reds on television or anywhere else, i guarantee it.
Plus, we Reds fans have to listen to his voice everyday, which makes this deal an all around bad one.

But I hold that the Gonzalez deal was worth it for the defensive UPGRADE we'll get. just because you don't like the Reds doesn't mean you have to lie.
Posted: 5:28 PM, December 07, 2006   by Anonymous
am i the only one that sees the mistake that small/mid market teams (especially the Blue Jays) made? You know you can't afford Matsuzaka, so why let a rival get their hands on him? Simply bid $100 mil, then don't talk to him. The Lions only get the bid money if you strike a contract with him. Let him go back to Japan, where he won't strike out your team 19 games/year. Which brings me to my next question. Is this what the Bosox are doing?
Posted: 8:15 PM, December 07, 2006   by Anonymous
I think the Cubs will win the NL central because, well, the last three division titles the Cardinals have won have been in 4 categories:the big three-edmonds,pujols, and rolen, who the cubs now overmatch them in with soriano,derrek lee, and aramis ramirez- advantage cubs. category #2:reserves and hitting off the bench-the cardinals have lost hector luna and john mabry and the cubs have gained john mabry,daryle ward, and almost cliff floyd.-advantage cubs-category #3: starting pitching: the cardinals are going to lose mulder,suppan,marquis, and weaver. the cubs gained ted lilly and signed back kerry wood and wade miller.advantage cubs-category #4:relief pitching- the cubs' strength is relief, with scott eyre, bob howry, will ohman, kerry wood now, and ryan dempster. the cardinals have lost ray king, steve kline, and julian tavarez in the past 2 years.-advantage cubs- all 4 categories won by the cubs... projected records... cubs 95-67....cards 82-80
Posted: 8:23 PM, December 07, 2006   by Anonymous
hey tk.... the thing you said about carpenter deserving more money then aramis ramirez is bull... ramirez has been consistent,unlike carpenter, with 35+ homers,.310+ average, 110+rbis, and .350 OBP...carpenter has had tWO good years, ramirez five....Aramis ramirez deserved more money then the cubs gave him, and carpenter deserved less then what the cards gave him, so they could use it on signing back guys like mark mulder,jeff weaver, and jeff suppan, and carpenter can bet that on his glass arm.
Posted: 8:49 PM, December 07, 2006   by Anonymous
Mike Piazza was a decent signing for the A's. Oakland always goes through these situations and comes out on top. Big Frank will be big hurt in Toranto again. Same goes for Zito, he is good but not worth whatever he will get. And please on the Harden trade talk.
Posted: 11:27 AM, December 08, 2006   by Anonymous
You are on the money about Texas stealing Cattalanoto,he is very underated as a hitter,near 300 lifetime.The Rangers have to get Zito and they will contend for title.
Posted: 4:11 PM, December 08, 2006   by Anonymous
astroturf will spell the end of frank thomas' career. bad signing.
Posted: 8:26 AM, December 09, 2006   by Anonymous
Reds new Uni's are sweet though...and three years 14 million is a bargain for anybody replacing Royce Clayton
Posted: 1:51 PM, December 09, 2006   by Anonymous
I'm a Cub fan and hate Mark McGuire, but if he is kept out of the HOF on the suspicion of doing something many of his peers were doing and Bud Selig did nothing to stop, how does Shefield get in after admitting to committing errors on purpose to get out of Milwaukee (and being fingered for steroids)? I don't care how many homers he hits, he's a detriment to any team dumb enough to sign him. He has about as much chance for the hall as Canseco does.
how will astroturf end Big Frank's career when all he's doing is awinging the bat genius?
Posted: 5:38 PM, December 09, 2006   by Paul Rugs
You have to love a Baseball article that refers to the Weimar Republic! What next? A Football article referring to the Ming Dynasty? A Soccer article referencing the Articles of Confederation! Go baby, go!
Posted: 7:31 PM, December 09, 2006   by Anonymous
Don't believe the hype you'll hear. The majority of Giants fans did not want Bonds back - it was a signing to ensure the HR record is broken in a SF uniform. Lame.
Posted: 12:08 AM, December 10, 2006   by J Silver
What if there were really good players who were free agents? Drew for $15 mil? Meche for $11 mil? Everyone and their dog are getting overblown contracts. What if Pujols were a free agent... $25 mil or more maybe?
Posted: 12:15 AM, December 10, 2006   by Anonymous
Matthews' deal is a joke, it's a great if you're Matthews...but someone was drunk when they gave him the offer...deals like that gives us a strong definition of when people are being "over-paid"...I guess you rank A-Rod's Texas signing in the top ten also...
Posted: 12:51 AM, December 10, 2006   by Anonymous
You're insane. You like the Gary Matthews deal? He's a fourth outfielder making 11 million a year. And Matsuzaka? How many Japanese pitchers in the majors right now have had more than 1-2 years of consistent success? Zero. And this guy is going to cost the Red Sox around 20 million per year. Japanese baseball is different than Major League baseball and it's impossible to tell who can adjust and who can't. And the Orioles, in this age of the all important bullpen, take their bullpen from one of the worst to one of the best for around 14 million and you criticize them. Please.
Posted: 1:02 PM, December 10, 2006   by Anonymous
I think now that the Giants have signed Bonds they should now go all out and sign Zito and win it all this year before everyone gets too old.
Posted: 2:24 PM, December 10, 2006   by Anonymous
To the guy who said the jays finished third go read some stats
Posted: 5:48 PM, December 10, 2006   by Anonymous
Like many other posters said, how is the Gary Matthews Jr. deal any good? Being an A's fan, i like it because it should cripple the angels financially and it won't be much of an upgrade from Figgins. Plus, i have to agree with the Speier deal as a bad one, the angels don't need more bullpen help.
Posted: 7:49 PM, December 10, 2006   by Michael
Am I the only one who is mystified that Brian Cashman is getting his behind smootched for bringing back Andy Pettite? Andy Pettitte?! The same Andy Pettitte who was considering retirement because he was pitching through elbow pain all last year?! The same elbow pain that sat him down LAST SEASON in September and for an ENTIRE SEASON 2 years ago?!
Perhaps Cashman thinks that bringing back sentimental favorites from the last time the Yanks won a world series. Heck, why not see what Chuck Knoblauch and Scott Brosius are up to!
This is moronic.
Posted: 10:11 PM, December 10, 2006   by Anonymous
How can you say you don't like any Baltimore moves? They gave up nothing for Jaret Wright and the Yanks are still paying over half his contract, making him a bargain in this market, plus everyone is being overpaid this offseason so I like how they went out and signed relievers, they could have won at least 10 more games last year with a different bullpen...
Posted: 8:29 AM, December 11, 2006   by Anonymous
Am I the only person confused about why the Gil Meche deal wasnt considered the worst signing in history.
Haha! Jake, you are missing the boat again; it is the Cardinals again in 2007.
There we go again - blasting anything done by the Orioles this off season. Teams are not placing a value on players based on their performance, but rather on overpaying for the specific need they have to fill based on limited availability of quality players. The Gil Meche signing (KC) is a prime example. The O's need to give some relief to their young starters by handing the games off to credible and proven (if not spectacular) pitchers in the bullpen. Chad Bradford and Scott Williamson are not worth what they're being paid, but the O's need to address this very large gap in their team. For them it is worth it.
Posted: 2:59 PM, December 11, 2006   by Anonymous
Well, here's another reason that I rarely read SI.com. What a load!

Sheffield is not a guaranteed Hall of Famer, as Luft seems to believe. Matthews might be the worst deal of the offseason (only time will tell, but Drew is in the running, too, along with Adam Eaton). And Matsuzaka is a good pitcher in a mediocre league who had a dominant couple of weeks in the WBC. The $51.1M was insane, and his contract, I'm sure, will be worse.

And on the other side of the coin, Thomas is a good gamble for the Jays, since they have money and no DH, and since Thomas is playing with a chip on his shoulder (don't mess with the Big Hurt...). And Gonzalez is a decent move for a team that has tons of money. If they find someone better, they pawn him off on someone else and eat a bunch of salary--no major loss to them.

And, your big mistake: how can Carpenter's extension NOT be one of the five best deals? The Cards locked up a big, powerful, Cy Young quality ace for five years at reasonable money. Sounds like a winner to me.
Posted: 4:18 PM, December 11, 2006   by Anonymous
Kudos for the Angels for signing both Matthews and Speier. For Matthews they may have overpaid, but Jaime Moreno seems to be made of money and won't be hamstrung by his contract. Plus, it's a better move than trying to get someone like Steve Finley in center to hit .212. As for Speier, it's probably going to work out as the Angels could be able to make a trade from a position of strength (that wonderful bullpen).
Posted: 5:05 PM, December 11, 2006   by Anonymous
You refer to the "awful Placido Polanco trade" at the end of your column. But I seem to recall that at the time, the Phillies were trying to make room for Chase Utley in the starting lineup. And getting Urbina for Polanco was supposed to lead to an unhittable Urbina-Wagner closing tandem in the late innings. Obviously, hindsight is 20-20, but I'm pretty sure the Phils fans were OK with the deal at the time. The REAL problem was David Bell doing nothing at 3rd base---Polanco could have replaced him, but Bell was untradeable.
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