Thursday, December 13, 2012

Three Years of Josh Hamilton

That’s what people wanted. They didn’t want a long deal. Those are always anchors to the teams. Sign everybody for short years, even if it’s for a bit more money a year. What were the Angels thinking? Hamilton won’t be worth that much money in five years.

I’m guessing that the Angels were thinking, “Now we actually have Hamilton”

People always talk about “bad contracts.” Those last few years of a long-term deal, the teams are always overpaying the player. Maybe. But, overpaying is overrated. Let’s look at some recent bad contracts. How about Barry Zito? Terrible contract. People said that at the time. People have said it for a long time. And, Zito probably is overpaid. The Giants overpaid Zito as he led them to their second World Series championship in three years. Where’s the problem? Would they have been better off without Zito on the team? Not sure I you can say they would. Why was the contract so bad?

What about the worst contract in the history of sports? The Alex Rodriguez extension? ARod is tremendously overpaid. Can’t really deny that. But, let’s say the Yankees were smarter than they were, and signed him for a shorter deal. What if their deal with him ended after last season? What would the Yankees do differently now? If he were healthy, wouldn’t ARod be the best third base option available? He’d be at least as good as Kevin Youkilis, right? Really, wouldn’t the Yankees have been smart to sign ARod to an extension last season just to make sure they didn’t have to settle for Youk or Mark Reynolds? With their long contract, don’t the Yankees avoid that problem?

I know, if he were healthy. But, as Carl Crawford showed us, players can get hurt during the second year of a contract too. Heck, Ellsbury showed us that a player can miss two seasons due to injury before they even reach free agency. So, injuries can hit during a contract of any length. Think Victorino won’t get hurt because it’s only a three year deal?

Speaking of Crawford, didn’t he and Gonzalez just illustrate the problem perfectly?

In essence, the Sox just did with Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford what people want them to do with other free agents. They had them for two years, and now don’t have to worry about overpaying them three years from now. But, what did that do for them? Imagine that Gonzalez instead of agreeing to big money actually accepted a two-year deal, and now signed with the Dodgers. Now the Sox are stuck with Mike Napoli at first? They wouldn’t be better off with Gonzalez there? Or, what about Crawford? If the Sox signed him to a two-year deal, and now he signed as a free agent in LA. The Sox had to replace him with Johnny Gomes? This is the sound strategy of building a team?

The people who complain about bad contracts get too worked up in the money. It’s not like these players with bad deal become terrible. They almost all end up being decent players at the end of their contracts. Probably not the superstars they were when they first signed. But, at least as good as the available replacements. It’s not like the Yanks are missing out on Longoria because they’re stuck with the ARod contract.

It’s all about your other options.

Now, I understand payrolls. Some teams can afford to pay $25 million to an average third baseman. That’s a revenue problem that is better saved for another day. But, some teams can. If they can, why don’t they? Otherwise, they end up in the same mess the Sox are in. Plenty of mythical financial flexibility…nobody to use it on. How does that help a team?

If you want good players, you need to pay them.

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