Son of Yhency

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hot Stove insanity

I thought my eyes were deceiving me when I first read the report on this, but the Mets have offered 47-year old Julio Franco a two-year contract. That's not one, but two years!! Now, I know baseball is in a bit of a spending frenzy right now, but how can anyone offer a contract that obligates them to pay a 47-year old for two years? Unless Tim Wakefield decides to play until he's that old, there isn't anyone in baseball who should get such a deal at that age.

Then the crazy Tigers sign crazy, 41-year old Kenny Rogers to two-year, $16 million contract. I know this is the same organization that signed Magglio Ordonez to a ridiculous contract last year, but how do you offer this guy two years at $16 million? Not only is he ancient and not only was his performance last year an anomaly (when compared to the last decade) and not only did he significantly fade in the second half (2.54 ERA in first half vs. 4.72 in the second), but weren't the Tigers watching the news last year?? Pardon my French, but this guy's an asshole! An asshole! Great PR, boys.

Just to further prove the Tigers' management incompetence, there's more. Because at the back of the Tigers' bullpen, we have newly-signed, 37-year old Todd Jones (two years, $11 million), who's coming off of a suspiciously freakish good year (2.10 ERA in a pitcher-friendly park vs. 5.21 in the previous five years), and 36-year old Troy Percival (5.76 ERA in 25 innings last year), who's halfway through his own two-year, $12 million contract. Would it be too obvious to insert some nursing home-related, geriatric joke here? Let's just say they're more than welcome to give Liberty a call.

Moving away from the old farts, but never wavering from our theme of insanity, I'd like to talk about A.J. Burnett. Because when the Jays signed him at five years and $55 million, SportsCenter compared him to Darren Dreifort at the time when he signed his own five-year contract at $55 million in 2000. (May Kevin Malone rest in hell for that.) Here's the breakdown:

Dreifort (through 2000)2839-457.863.804.29
Burnett (through 2005)2849-507.943.983.73

For those who have had the luxury of not living through the Darren Dreifort era on the Dodgers -- believe me, you're better off for it -- let me fill you in on how he performed over that five year contract:

Games startedW-LERAPissed off fans
Dreifort (2001-2005)

26 (!!!)




If I'm a Jays fan looking at this, I'm a little nervous. Hey, Burnett may round into the pitcher everyone thinks he can be. But there's that chance that he can also become a Dreifort, and I wouldn't wish another Darren Dreifort era on anyone.

With the ink on these ridiculous contracts already dry, I can't imagine what other levels of sanity some GM is willing to pass. But along with all the other free agents out there, I think it's clear that the moral of this story is that you can't build a team through free agency because it (a) will cost you a shitload of money and (b) won't net you many young players (almost all free agents are at least 30). You can fill in holes here and there, but shelling out these massive contracts to big risks won't work in the long run.

The way you win is the old fashion way: build your farm system, develop players and make smart trades for other young players. I hate to use this example, but that's how the Yankees won in the 90s, that's why they stopped winning in the early part of this decade (when they spent far too much on free agent ex-All Stars), and why, if Brian Cashman gets his way (as it looks like he is), they will soon be another juggernaut with young, talented players like Bubba Crosby, Robinson Cano and that Wang dude.

Now please excuse me while I mangle my foot with a jack hammer.