Yeah, yeah, I know. I hate to talk about baseball this early in the offseason. But can someone explain to me why all of a sudden, MLB general managers are dishing out big contracts like Stephen Colbert doles out the truth -- in abundant fashion.
I don't pretend to know a ton about baseball, so don't ask me how market values or shifts in team philosophy are contributing to what already seems like an absurd amount of bad contracts. I go by what I see in the field, and what I see reflects poorly on free agent decisions this offseason.
Moises Alou (1 year, $8.5M): Forget about the fact that Alou is 40 and clearly on the decline of what was an above average career. Alou didn't just get a big contract at an old age, he got a raise from the Mets this year. He's making $1M more this year than he did last. Alou had a respectable season in 2005, hitting 22 home runs and batting .301. But the fact that the Mets gave a 40-year-old who has missed 103 games in the last two seasons is a tad questionable.
Jim Edmonds (2 years, $19M): Let's see. Edmonds is 36. His games (153-142-110), runs (102-88-52), hits (150-123-90), home runs (42-29-19), RBIs (111-89-70), batting average (.301-.263-.257), on-base percentage (.418-.385-.350), and slugging percentage (.643-.533-.471) have all declined in the last three years. He's still great in the field. But his mobility and ability are declining rapidly.
Aramis Ramirez (5 years, $75M): This one is pretty dumbfounding. A career .279 hitter who has peaked in his eighth season. I always find these types of contracts amusing. Look, if it takes someone until their eighth season to finally breakthrough, and that year happens to also be their contract year, there's a good chance that they're still not that good and that they'll fall back to earth the next year. Mark my words on this.
Alfonso Soriano (8 years, $136M): Soriano's a pretty great player, but that is a lot of money for someone who strikes out as much as Soriano does.
Gary Matthews, Jr. (5 years, $50M): Another player who has peaked late. Matthews wasn't even close to hitting .300 before last season (.276 is his career high). He still hasn't hit 20 home runs in a season. Although, if I had $10M a year to spend, I'd probably give it to Matthews for that awesome catch he had last year.
Mike Mussina (2 years, $23M): A month ago, Yankees fans were celebrating the prospects of an almost entirely rebuilt pitching staff, one that would be sans-Mussina. Well, that's not going to happen. Moose is 30-24 in the last three years despite working with one of the highest-powered offenses in baseball. That can be attributed to his 4.37 ERA in that time. He's also notorious for stalling in the playoffs in the Bronx lately. His career postseason record of 7-8 underlines that.
Juan Pierre (5 years, $45M): He's OK at the plate, with two 200+ hit seasons in the last three years, although he hasn't batted over .300 in the last two years. He scores a decent amount, although hasn't topped 100 runs since 2004. He hit only 3 home runs in 699 at bats last year. I know that his goal is to get on base, steal bases, and score. But the only one of those three that he does really remarkably is steal bases (115 in the last two years). Still, is that worthy of such a large contract and commitment? I think not.