Thursday, December 09, 2004

posted by James - 11:45 PM

With teams throwin’ around ridiculous, multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts to middle-of-the-road, or at the very least aging (read: declining) free agents, should Master Hendry continue the trend he started earlier this week?

Call the 2005 Cubs the One-Year Wonders.

To use a poker analogy (this is right up your alley Scott and Skippy), there are way too many GMs pushing it “all in” before the flop. Which scares me and should scare you too, when it comes to thinking about whether your team can (or should) really get involved in bidding for the big free agents out there: Beltran (Hell yeah at any cost), Beltre, Drew, Pedro, Pavano, Renteria, Cabrera, Delgado, Sexson, Nomar (oh, seelee me. Master Hendry says: Bid you cannot on something that cannot be had by you)...

I used the word ridiculous before, but these contracts are more mind boggling (in the rare case when it might be justified) or downright stupefying.

I give you Exhibits A through whatever:

Omar Vizquel, Giants

Cristian Guzman, Nationals

Vinny Castilla, Nationals

Damian Miller, Brewers

Kris Benson, Mets

Paul Wilson, Reds

Jaret Wright, Yankees

Tony Womack, Yankees

(OK, the above two are just, plain guilty pleasures since it’s Yankees-brand ridiculousness, that any moron can see will backfire on them.)

Armando Benitez, Giants

Rheal Cormier, Phillies

Troy Percival, Tigers

And in the last couple days:

Dustin Hermanson, White Sox (oh will those Pale Hose ever learn)

Jeff Kent, Dodgers (more on him later)

Jermaine Dye, White Sox (see Hermanson)

Troy Glaus, Diamondbacks ($45 million? 4 years? He’s a big-time home run hitter, but he’s only played in 120 games in the last two years. Either the D-backs are serious about contending or serious about not knowing what they’re doing, especially after the Wally Backman fiasco, or it could be both.)

Steve Finley, Angels

These teams are throwing around money like green was last season’s color, and they have to unload it (I didn’t even mention the Marlins handing over $8 million for one season of Al Leiter, when guys like Woody Williams can’t even get $4 million).

Two of the most recent deals could have direct relation to the Cubs’ efforts to sign Carlos Beltran.

Finley joins an already-crowded outfield in Anaheim. They’ve got at least six outfielders, with only five positions available (and that’s including Darin Erstad playing first and one of them DH-ing). Nobody is going to take contracts such as Garrett Anderson, Tim Salmon and Erstad off their hands.

End result: Scratch one bidder off the list for Beltran.

The Dodgers shoring up their infield with Kent (at either first, second or third) could accomplish the same goal, especially if they can’t unload Shawn Green, but it might add intensity to another Beltran Bidder.

Houston could be the wounded animal of this bunch. Not only did they lose Kent, but they also don’t have a firm commitment from Roger Clemens for next year.

With aging franchise cornerstones Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell still on the books, not losing Beltran could end up the Astros number one priority at the Winter Meetings this weekend.

I’m saying I expect the Astros to act desperate and pay like they’re desperate, something like a whole lotta years and over $17 million per season (think AROD, circa 2000).

I don’t think the Astros are going to leave this weekend without showing Beltran an offer like this, and I wouldn’t blame Beltran for accepting on the spot.

I know I’ve gone all over the place with this post, but here’s the part you’ve all been waiting for: What then for our Cubbies?

Here comes another poker analogy for you: Everybody’s got all these middling hands (they have to be, cause they can’t all be good), and they’re putting in a whole bunch of chips.

Now, your chances of catching a hand ain’t that great either, so you could call and hope a miracle flop comes up, and you make a hand and no one else does... whereas it’s just as likely the opposite happens, and you just wasted your chips.

The price of poker at that point would be pretty high to make the call at that point.

So what should you do? Commit a whole bunch of your stack, or stay out of it and let them fight it out?

This is what I want the Cubs to do. Under this scenario, Beltran is gone and Drew’s already over-inflated market value just went higher than I want to my team to pay.

So instead of casting their lot (and part of subsequent year’s lot too) on a low-reward player such as Jeromy Burnitz, Brian Jordan or Juan Gonzalez, who are all going to be looking for a multi-year deal after what they saw Dye sign for, they look to the route they took with Nomar and sign a guy with something to prove and willing to sign for just one year.

If the Cubs can’t reel in Beltran, Magglio Ordonez is the only free-agent outfielder available I want wearing Cubs pinstripes (I SAID CUBS PINSTRIPES) next year.

He’s only two years older than Drew. Yes, he’s right handed, but he hits right-handed pitchers (.924 OPS over the last three years) almost as well as he does left-handed pitchers (.969 vs LHP).

Watching the Mariners all those years, he sticks out in my mind as one of those guys who I absolutely hated to see come to the plate with anything cooking on the basepaths.

And he could duke it out with Sammy Sosa over who had to shift over to left field, and if the new guy wins, so be it.

I’d love it if the Cubs could work out an option for 2006 included in the deal, just in case his knee isn’t 100% sound the whole season, but a base salary + incentives contract similar to Nomar’s would be very reasonable for a four-time all star, who has cracked the 30 HR-110 RBI plateau four times.

And from everything I’ve heard, there are a lot of worse people to build the core of your team around than Magglio Ordonez and Nomar Garciaparra.

...a couple of one-year wonders.

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