Creeping Inexorably Toward A Worthwhile Sub-Heading.
Friday, February 20, 2004
My mind is still floating seven inches northeast of my body, and as a result, my thoughts can best be described as stumpy and sporadic. I hope to be capable of extended episodes of lucidity after the weekend, but until then, you're stuck with my scattershot nuggets of nonsense. Prodigality will do that to you.
The Cards pulled the trigger on the big money deal they knew they had to make to keep Albert Pujols in red underwear. The wackiest part of the pact is what amounts to a ten-year pension for Pujols from 2020-2029. It's $3M deferred without interest on each of the last four years of the contract, so it takes some of the immediate financial pressure off the club from 2007-2010. But paying someone $1.2M a year for retiring and drinking mojitos seems a little odd.
The other strange feature is the $16M club option in 2011. Pujols will be 31 (barring discovery of contrary personal papers), and while it's reasonable to assume that he'll be worth the cash, he might not be, and in that event, the Cardinals can exercise a buyout for $5M. "Buyout" hardly seems an apt description, more like an extortive guarantee that the option will be exercised.
I know $5M will likely seem a less onerous figure in seven years, but most clubs won't release a lousy player who makes half that, so what happens if Pujols is pretty good, but no longer what they hoped for?
Overall, it's a good deal, and the Cardinals had to make it, but St. Louis may have one nasty decision to make in 2011, and you can bet I won't be crying for them.
More Darts From the Sightless
Last Friday, I commented on the randomness of the arbitration process and how smart teams do their best to steer clear of it. Well, sometimes, when Mr. Eastwood asks you if you feel lucky, you throw judgment to the wind and say "Hell, yes, Clint! Fire away!"
The Dodgers did just that yesterday, and were pleased to find the chamber empty, as they won their case against Eric Gagne. Despite second and first place finishes in saves the last two years, ridiculous strikeout rates, subterranean ERA's, and a glorious Cy Young award, the arbitration panel thought Gagne's $8M request too high, and ruled for the Dodger's $5M figure.
It's not that I look at Gagne and say, "That's how I want to spend $8M." I don't. But the Goggled One sported everything an arbitrator usually likes to see; high result numbers (wins, saves), low ERA's, and a shiny, shiny trophy. Usually, those factors equal a pot of gold for the player, but not this time around.
Does this represent a fundamental shift in the way Closers are viewed in these cases? We'll need more decisions to be sure, but I think it's just another blindly hurled dart hitting some poor slob in the ass.