When Raul Ibanez signed that three-year deal with the Phillies for $30 million back in mid-December, I assumed it was merely the start of a windstorm of slugger money opening up on the market. I couldn't have been more wrong if I had predicted The Love Guru would win twelve Oscars. Since that point, Pat Burrell, Milton Bradley, and Jason Giambi have all signed short term deals with little money up front and some incentives tacked on. Sure, the economy stinks to high hell, but the baseball economy isn't exactly dying. If anything, baseball might end up being recession-proof just like Hollywood movies. That's if teams are smart about ticket prices and whatnot, but I'm going off on a tangent.
Back to the point. All of these guys have big bats and decent patience but not much in terms of defensive skills. Of course, the new inefficiency in the market to be exploited is defense so it makes sense that these fellas would suffer a bit. Still, $16 million for two years of a fella guaranteed to give you 30 homers and a .900 OPS just seems like a total bargain for the Rays, whether or not Pat Burrell ever dons a glove for a single inning.
Despite the enormous contracts awarded to CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira by the Yankees, folks just aren't getting the money this offseason. I'm not ready to stand on my soapbox and yell out "COLLUSION!!!" but I'm not ruling it out entirely either. Baseball owners are not really individuals. They're more like an amoeba. An extremely wealthy amoeba with poor fashion sense. When a few of them overspend, they all overspend. When a few of them tighten their belts, they all tighten their belts. When the A's started focusing on high OBP players, everyone started looking at high OBP players. Now that the Rays won an AL championship with good defense, everyone wants good defense. Don't even get me started on Barry Bonds.
So folks, if you want to root for your favorite team to snag a few good players for under-market salaries, cheer on. But if you want to support the working class and stand up for the little guy, then you better hope the Mets are dumb enough to give Manny Ramirez $100 million over four years.