Thursday, December 18, 2003
DIE, DIE, DIE!
God, I hope this deal is dead.
I can't remember the last time I've been so angry.
Dammit, Henry. If you want A-Rod, just pay the bill. Don't nickel and dime over $50M over the next 7 years. Stop calling your buddy Selig to do you another favour. You don't need another favour. You already paid less than others were willing to to buy the club. Is it too much to ask you to maybe invest those savings into paying full price for the best shortstop in a 100 hundred years?
Your club president thinks Big Stein is the Evil Empire? Bullshit. You are. Big Stein might be a crazy Calzone-lovin' fool, but he pays full price. He doesn't whine when the Players' Union decides there shouldn't be a double standard for superstars. He doesn't try to exploit a partisan "Commissioner" desperate to see the Yankees fail so his own "small market" club can reap financial rewards for its own ineptitude. And rather than let himself be crippled by Bud's Yankee Tax, he just keeps on spending. It's been a source of real joy to see your front office desperately try to stay below the $120.5M threshold while the Yankees creep closer and closer to $200M--costing Big Stein another $50M in "revenue sharing".
What bothers me is that even if this deal is finally dead, you might be better off in the long-term. Firstly, as I'm sure you know, Nomar and Ramirez will cost you less than A-Rod and Magglio Ordonez in 2004. And even if you apologize and Nomar reconsiders and comes back for $15M a year (or even $16M or $17M), it's not like you were going to be able to resign Ordonez for much less. Given the $5M a year difference between Manny and A-Rod's contracts, you'll still be saving money. And no matter how Gleeman spins it, the difference between Nomar/Ramirez and A-Rod/Ordonez really isn't that big. Aaron, 2.53 WS or 1.3 EqR is not a big difference. It's not $5M big. And it's not worth all this hassle big.
And let's not forget that Manny is not going to start sulking and demanding a trade. That same "attitude problem" in the clubhouse that we hear about (i.e., he's quiet and keeps to himself) means Ramirez doesn't give a fuck that you put him on waivers or spent the last couple of weeks trying to trade him. He'll continue to show up in the baggiest uniform in baseball, tuck his water bottle into his pocket, and hit the crap out of the ball.
EYES ON THE (CONCILLATION) PRIZES
Now that Gary Sheffield is finally really and truly officially a Yankee, the list of potential homes for Vlad Guerrero shrinks a little more (I guess my speculations about Cashman merely using Sheffield as leverage to nab Guerrero were false).
Make no mistake. Sheffield's bat will immeasurably help the Yankees overcome their otherwise complete lack of defense. And his three year, $39 M contract actually makes good economic sense. Sure, he's crazier than Carl Everett and will be 35 next year, but he's also coming off his second best season that would have made him unanimous MVP in the AL this year. He's got a career .319 EqA (6 points higher than Guerrero) and he accumulated 350 EqR these past three seasons compared to Guerrero's 322 EqR. Sheffield and Giambi (or Giambi and Sheffield) might be the best 3-4 combo in baseball.
So I understand Cashman (or Big Stein) for passing on Guerrero.
But with a week until Christmas, it troubles me that Guerrero still hasn't found a home. Because a bunch of clubs could really use him. And despite what you might have heard, some could even afford him.
Rumours are that Guerrero is looking for Manny Ramirez money. Given that the Red Sox are desperate to free up their Manny Ramirez money, no doubt he hasn't had any serious bidders... unless he wants to play for a mediocre ballclub stockingpiling bats and oblivious to its own pitching woes and the more balanced clubs competing in the same division. (And we all know how happy A-Rod is in Texas.)
But in the $16-18M range, surely we can find Guerrero a home with a contender, can't we? Well, maybe. At least if clubs weren't determined to spend their money on anyone except Guerrero:
*sign OF Raul Ibanez to a 3 year, $13.25M contract
Vladimir Guerrero and the Mariners: too good to be true. With Ichiro! as the resident superstar, Vlad could still shy away from the spotlight. And with Edgar due to retire in a season or two, Vlad would easily fill the void as the EqA machine. And then it happened.
Deciding to let CF superstar Mike Cameron walk because the M's wanted to "upgrade the offense", Bavasi promptly signed Raul Ibanez killing the dreams of BP readin', Starbucks drinkin' baseball fans everywhere.
Obviously, you're not getting anywhere near Guerrero for $4.5M a year. And to be fair the Mariners can't go crazy over budget because they've got to worry about overpaying to keep Ichiro! in a couple of years. But nix Bavasi's other offseaon deals ($3.2M/yr to Hasegawa, $3M/yr to Speizio, and $4.3M/yr to Guardado--and that's not including Winn and Franklin's raises, and the $4M salary difference between Vizquel and Guillen had Bavasi not been spared) and it's clear the Mariners had AT LEAST $15M a year (although probably closer to $20M) to play with coming into the offseason.
I'm just saying if I'm the GM of a high revenue contender with a spot to fill in the outfield and AT LEAST $15M to play with, my first priority would not be to sign Raul Ibanez.
*acquire OF Juan Encarnacion from the Marlins for PTBNL
The Dodgers are a more extreme version of the Mariners: great pitching, great defense, utter lack of offense. Honestly. The 2003 Dodgers scored fewer runs than the 43-119 Tigers, and yet still finished the year 85-77.
Declining their $10M option on Brian Jordan, and with increasingly gimpy RF Shawn Green likely to move to LF in his place, the Dodgers desperately need a heavy hitting OF.
Trading Kevin Brown to the Yankees for Jeff Weaver, the Dodgers saved about $8.75M for 2004, and $5.75M in 2005 (good god, is Weaver ever overpaid). Jordan off the books clears another $6.5M (last year's $9M salary minus $2.5M buyout), and the sad departure of Quantrill another $3M. Looks like $18M to me...
Instead, the Dodgers will pay career .260 EqA Encarnacion $3.5M next year, and $4.4M in 2005.
In 2003, the Dodgers were a mere 56 runs away from being Wild Card contenders and World Series Champions. 8 months ago, Encarnacion over the various sack of bones the Dodgers played in LF in Jordan's injury absence might have been enough.
In 2004, with the loss of Kevin Brown and Paul Quantrill, it's too little, too late.
Unlike Bavasi, Evans' offseason moves so far haven't completely scuttled the Great Guerrero Hope (Evans could move Green to 1B and Encarnacion to LF...), but he needs to make it a priority before he's found himself with too many Spiezios to reach a deal. (Actually, siging Spiezio was probably Bavasi's best move so far since it'll bench Cirillo, although, like I said, I personally would have concentrated on more pressing matters first.) And unless FOX or the new owners want to raise payroll, he'd better get cooking on moving LoDuca's $4.9M contract out of town.
*sign OF Carl Everett to a 2 yr, $7.5M contract
OK, so it's a stretch to call Montreal a contender, given they may not exist next week.
Guerrero made $11.5M last year. Minaya cleared Vazquez's $6M salary (and got an inexpensive quality bat to show for it), and rumours are steady that he could easily swap Vidro for Soriano and save another $5M or so.
So why are the Expos counting on Crazy Carl Everett?
To be fair, Minaya reportedly offered 5yrs, $75M, and given no end to MLB ownership in sight, a more expensive contract would have been folly.
But to not even offer him arbitration? Minaya had the resources to afford a one year $20M paycheck should Guerrero want to try again in 2004.
(Nice HTML formatting, eh?)
And it's not just Everett, Encarnacion, and Ibanez. Teams are sweeping up the scrubs:
Reggie Sanders to St. Louis -- 2 yrs, $6M
Jose Guillen to Anaheim -- 2 yrs, $6M
Rondell White to Detroit -- 2yrs, $6M
Jose Cruz Jr. to Tampa -- 2 yrs, $6M
None of these deals gets me excited (Sanders is probably the best of the four, but I'd be leary of signing him to a multiyear deal at that price given his age), although I also didn't see Guerrero going to any of those teams (St. Louis has to worry about signing Pujols long-term and, besides, should be spending all available resources this year towards upgrading the pitching staff).
So, if the Mariners and Dodgers are doing everything they can not to get Guerrero, where will he go? I still don't think he'll sign with Baltimore. I think it would have already happened by now if Vlad wanted to be there. And I doubt the Marlins will pay for him (nor do I believe Vlad wants to play for Loria again despite the attractiveness of Miami's large Spanish-speaking population). I've started wondering, however, if whether the Mark Redman trade means Beane will try to trade one of the Big Three (possibly packaged with Dye's $11M contract) to give him the flexibility to get Guerrero. Given the way things are going this offseason, right now, that would surprise me least of all.