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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fools and Their Money

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are about to sign Gary Mathews, Jr. to a five-year, $50 million deal. All for a 31 year-old player who had a career batting average of .249 going into last season and had a career year during a contract year.

What are they going to do next, offer Eric Milton $25 million for 3 years (oops, the Reds did that a few years ago)?

Seriously, there is so much salary inflation among free-agent outfielders that you wonder whether the academics at Harvard (where grade inflation is the norm) are running the show in Major League Baseball. Good thing for Mathews, Jr. to take his act to the left coast, where the teams out there get precious little coverage back East. Had he signed back east and gone for an oh for April, he'd be booed louder than President Bush at a meeting of Manhattan Democrats.

What are the Angels thinking?

My hometown Phillies are looking for a good bat to follow MVP (boy does that sound nice) Ryan Howard in the lineup. They might have whiffed on Moises Alou, who still has something left in the tank, but they were wise not to get caught up in the Alfonso Soriano feeding frenzy or this one. True, Mathews, Jr.'s father, Gary "Sarge" Mathews, was instrumental in the Phillies' run to the World Series in '83 and the Cubs playoff run in '84, but that doesn't mean that Jr. has the same talents that senior did.

The salary inflation makes for hard choices in front offices. The Phillies had a choice of overpaying for Soriano and Mathews, Jr. Now they have to figure out whether they can peddle Pat Burrell, whether they should trade for Manny Ramirez or even dally with Barry Bonds (don't laugh -- I suggested this several months ago) or settle with a combination of Jeff Conine and someone else batting behind Howard. Give Pat Gillick credit for being clever -- he'll figure something out.

It's just that he and other general managers are not willing to give the agents blank checks to name their price.

Not for "B" list players.


Anonymous The Sports Curmudgeon said...

Gary Matthews Jr. is not worth $50M over 5 years. I agree with that.

Gary Matthews at $50M compared to Alfonso Soriano at $136M looks like a stone-cold bargain.

Barry Bonds would last in Philly until the first time he didn't run out a ground ball or loafed after a ball in the outfield. Based on past performances, I think that might be about April 22nd.

11:01 PM  

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