Talking Baseball

Your weekday baseball fix. Some days.

Posted by Dave on Monday, January 05, 2004

This is the very first post of this Blog and it certainly won't be the last. I was reading Aaron Gleeman's Blog (http://www.aarongleeman.com), and, it occurred to me: I could do that. So...I did. With a few of my friends, that is. Jon, Ben, Mike and I (Dave) will be posting on this as regularly as possible. We'll probably be taking turns, posting once every four days. Enough informational crap, we're talking baseball here.

Something caught my eye today. Well, two things. First, and less importantly, ESPN is reporting that the Royals are the "front-runner" for Juan Gonzalez. I think this headline borders on hilarious. The headline seems to imply that there are multiple people lining up to sign JUAN GONZALEZ! FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY, YOUR VERY OWN JUAN GONZALEZ! Actually, this is courtesy ESPN.com: Alan Nero, who represents Gonzalez, said from Chicago on Sunday that "about three" teams of "about six" initially interested were still in negotiations. I didn't know that one was "about three" and I didn't know that two was "about six" these days. But Nero's got some crazy gorilla math. That, or he lives on Threearth. Okay, no more crappy jokes, I promise.

So, I had just written something VERY long about JuanGone, but it got erased. I'm going to have to figure out how to be safe with this posting stuff. Suffice it to say that Rob Neyer's latest article will probably cover everything I was saying. Let's see. Well, Rob's a bit excited, but my excitement is muted. He seems to think that Gonzalez will start in right for the Royals. That would be a terrible idea. Juan's defensive ineptitude is well-chronicled and his placement in the OF would increase the likelihood for injury (he's also 34, no toddler). Why Rob would rather have Juan play right than DeJesus, a younger and almost CERTAINLY better fielder is beyond me. The Royals acquisition of JuanGone will be good, but only if the following things are true:
1) Gonzalez is the DH exclusively (he didn't in Texas either).
2) Gonzalez is not signed for anything remotely near 13 million (his salary, unbelievably, for the Rangers last year). I'd sign him for 6-7 million, no more. I think he's overvalued in general.
3) Gonzalez is not signed for longer than 2 years (preferably a one year contract with a club option for the second year).

I really wanted to post about the Yankees, however. Javier Vazquez's signing reminded me a lot of other Yankee contracts. They're all backloaded. That is to say that most make more in the far future than they do in the present and near future. Check it out:
Vazquez gets a $2 million signing bonus, $8.5 million next season, $10.5 million in 2005, $11.5 million in 2006 and $12.5 million in 2007. Sounds a lot like:
2004: $17.0M
2005: $18.0M
2006: $19.0M
2007: $20.0M
2008: $20.0M
2009: $20.0M
2010: $21.0M
2004: $10.0M
2005: $11.0M
2006: $18.0M
2007: $21.0M
2008: $21.0M
2004: $6.0M
2005: $8.0M
2006: $9.0M
2007: Team option $12.0M or $4.0M buyout
2004: $7.0M
2005: $7.0M
2006: $8.0M
2004: $14.0M
2005: $17.0M
2006: $17.0M
2007: Team option $17.0M or $1.5M buyout
2004: $12.0M
2005: $12.0M
2006: Team option $15.0M or $3.5M buyout

And on, and on. Not only do these guys make a ridiculous amount of money, but their contracts are backloaded. Most notably, Giambi's contract balloons to 18 million in 2006. Don't forget Sheffield, Brown, Karsay, Matsui, Rivera, etc. etc. Last I heard, the Yankees have a 187 million dollar payroll. Given that I don't have a good way to look for aggregate salary information, I would say that with Soriano's arbitration looming and with Tony Clark coming, their payroll will approach 200, million, dollars. That's a little less than the two largest payrolls COMBINED. Incredible stuff. But the point is: It's only getting worse. The nature of the contracts means that the Yankees will continue paying more and more money to their players, and there doesn't seem to be much of an end in sight. Nearly all of these contracts are bad contracts, given today's market value. Both Jeter and Giambi are developing injury problems. Brown is flat-out old. Rivera is also developing injury problems, and is also aging. Karsay, he's got the injury bug. Williams? Grandpa. Matsui? Proven to be overrated. Not even the Yankees can keep up this sort of payroll. Even if they can, the fact that their gigantic payroll is only getting (ahem) giganticker will deter them from improving their aging team.

If the Yankees don't find a way to relieve their books of some of this salary, you may see the Red Sox win some pennants in the late aughts (2006-2009). Or, dare I say, the Blue Jays (Ricciardi has done a fantastic job for them - to think he used to coach high school hoops only 15 minutes away from me only 4 years ago...). That's it. I promise more wittiness will be present in my next post, but I wanted to bang out a nice, long post. Hopefully this'll set the trend for the future of this blog.

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