Tuesday, March 25, 2008

MLB Arms Race Fizzling

Left: Paul Sancya/Associated Press; Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press; Steve Nesius/Reuters

The New York Times today posted an article titled "When Owners’ Offers Better Reflect Starters’ Worth."

They note that, finally, teams have started to wizen up about giving mediocre names big money, long-term contracts to compensate for a weak free agent market for a limited number of quality pitchers. As a Phillies fan, I am always hoping they will land a "big name" starter, but they have been conservative. While it's been easy to criticize them for not landing a #1, the market over the last few years has really not yielded teams the results they would have liked for their investment. As a result, teams are stuck with bloated contracts and nothing more than trade bait come playoff time for a sucker willing to take a chance on an underachieving hurler.

The Times looked at the last 3 off-seasons' signings and their payouts. I took it a step further and added the pitchers' respective records during the applicable duration.

The numbers don't lie.

2006 Off-Season
  • Kevin Millwood, 5 Years, $60 million (26-26)
  • A. J. Burnett, 5 Years, $55 million (20-16)
  • Jarrod Washburn 4 Years $37 million (18-19)
  • Matt Morris 3 Years, $27 million (20-26)
  • Esteban Loaiza 3 Years, $21,375,000 (13-13)
2007 Off-Season
  • Barry Zito, 7 Years $126 million (11-13)
  • Gil Meche, 5 Years, $55 million (9-13)
  • Jeff Suppan, 4 Years, $42 million (12-12)
  • Ted Lilly, 4 Years, $40 million (15-8)
  • Jason Schmidt, 3 Years, $47 million (1-4)
  • Vicente Padilla, 3 Years, $33.75 million (6-10)
  • Miguel Batista, 3 Years, $25 million (16-11)
  • Adam Eaton, 3 Years, $24.5 million (10-10)
  • Jason Marquis, 3 Years, $21 million (12-9)
Of those names, only 3 have produced winning records - Batista, Marquis, Lilly & Burnett. Of those 4, only Lilly has a winning percentage over .600.

This off-season, with names dangling out in free agency like Tom Glavine, Kenny Rogers, Pettitte, Kyle Lohse, Randy Wolf, Liván Hernández, Jon Lieber, Jason Jennings and Brett Tomko, only Carlos Silva signed a multi-year package (4 Years, $48 Million).

Silva posted a 13-14 record last season and never won 15 games in his career.

The smart move/money might just be investing in scouting and the farm system, or limiting contracts to one-year deals the way the Braves, Tigers and Yankees did with Glavine, Rogers and Pettitte.

While this long term solution might not be what fans want to hear, the payout might be worth the wait.

No comments: