December 2006


Read this article and found it to be a great gift for any baseball fan. Enjoy!

Only hours after I predicted that the owners would start griping about “cost certainty” in the wake of their spending spree and before the end of the current collective bargaining agreement, I see this article on Yahoo Sports. jeff Passan reports on “growing dissent over the CBA.” And quotes Chicago White Sox owner, Jerry Reinsdorf, as saying “I am already lamenting it.”

I realize that the real battling needs to go on between owners, not between owners and players. On the whole, it is clear that MLB is flush with money. The players deserve as much of that money as they can get their hands on. It is not their fault that owners get crazy and pay 10 mil for mediocre pitchers just because everyone else is doing it. That’s the owners fault. If I were the owner of the A’s I’d be more angry with the Rangers owner than with the Union. But then again, if I were the A’s owner I wouldn’t be angry because my team consistenly makes the playoffs because the team isn’t run by fools!

I Called It

I am delighted that both players and ownership agreed to terms on the collective bargaining agreement with relative east this year. A few more years without talk of a strike or lockout will be a great thing. However, since signing this agreement owners across the league have gone on a spending spree that is reminiscent of the culture that created the A-Rod monster and two years later sent ownership to cry about “cost certainty.”

Here are some of the outlandish contracts that have been signed thus far this offseason:

JD Drew 70 mil. over 5 years
Carlos Lee 100 mil. over 6 years
Gary Matthews Jr. 50 mil. over 5 years
Alfonso Soriano 136 mil. over 8 years
Aramis Ramirez 75 mil. over 5 years
Juan Pierre 44 mil. over 5 years
Danys Baez 19 mil. over 3 years
Vicente Padilla 34 mil. over 3 years

What is amazing is that these contracts are ridiculous both in terms of annual dollars as well as length of contract (I am operating under the assumption that 3 years for a reliever is equal to about 6 years for an everyday player).

What is also amazing is that the Yankees are basically laying out of it. I love to take any opportunity I can to bash the Evil Empire, but in this case I can’t. In this wild market they are playing it sensible.

Inevitably what is going to happen here is that two thirds of those contracts are going to blow up in the faces of the owners that offered them. Teams will have to dump salary desperately and then the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets will be the only teams able to afford the talent. The signing teams will absorb part of the contracts and the big market teams will end up with talented players and they’ll be paying market value for them. Those players will be collecting above market salaries. The teams that had to dump the salary will be paying off the rest of the contract for nothing. (Anyone remember Mike Hampton?)

Inevitably we are all going to have to put up with these ridiculous conversations about “parity” and how “small market teams” can’t compete with “big market teams.” and all of that nonsense.

But it isn’t the Yankees fault that other owners are going to blow up their team’s economy by signing .500 pitchers with 4.50 eras to contracts worth more than 10 million annually.

The owners that are offering these contracts are either a) incredibly stupid or b) making more money than they will let on when it comes time to try to institute a salary cap after this collective bargaining agreement expires.

The bottom line is that right now the Yankees are being smart. The Twins are being smart. The A’s are being smart. I bet those teams continue to win throughout the ups and downs of contracts. Texas, Baltimore, LA, Toronto, and Chicago are being stupid. I resent the fact that I may have to put up with a labor stoppage in the future because these super-rich owners are throwing around their money in foolish ways.

I further resent that the owners will call for a salary cap because they can’t control themselves. And most of all, I resent the fact that the owners know that public opinion will be on their side because they know that most fans have the mentality  of “I’d play baseball for free. Why are these players so greedy that they can’t bear a salary cap that keeps their salary down to 10 million annually instead of 15?!”

It is clear that it is the owners, not the players, throwing the system out of whack right now. The argument for a salary cap and “cost certainty” that will follow in about 2 years will just be total rhetoric thrown about to counteract their own mismanagement of  their team. It makes me nuts!