Stupid Yankees… And Other Notes
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on November 28, 2006
The New York Yankees are the winners. The winners of the Kei Igawa Sweepstakes, which makes them losers. The Bronx Bombers bid more than $25 million for the rights to Igawa, a left-handed starter. Yes, $25 million for the rights to sign him to a contract and pay him a salary.
It’s not much different than what the Boston Red Sox did with star right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka earlier this month, when they won with a bid of $51.1 million.
Matsuzaka is perhaps the greatest pitcher in Japanese Baseball History and his stuff directly translates to the major leagues. But 1/20th of one billion dollars just to earn the rights to pay him what is rumored to be more than 10 million a year for at least three years? That’s $80 million for three years of a starting pitcher.
But Matsuzaka is one story. He’s a legit US Baseball prospect. Igawa is another tale altogether. While there are questions as to how good Matsuzaka will be in MLB, the questions surrounding Igawa are more along the lines of “is he a No. 4 starter or a reliever?”
And the brilliant New York Yankees just paid more money for the rights to the 27-year-old than they did to retain Mike Mussina through the 2008 season.
The early rumors on Igawa’s contract demands are three years and about $6-6.5 million per, slightly more than what the Seattle Mariners gave to catcher Kenji Johjima last winter. But add in the posting fee and the Yankees are paying about $45 million for three years of a “potential” No. 4 starter.
We all know that money is not a matter to the New York Yankees, so there’s really no ripping them on value in a deal like this. But to take such a risk with Igawa instead of tossing that cash into the pot of US starters, where they could have landed two established MOR starting pitchers for the price of Igawa, is, well, stupid.
This, among other reasons, is why the Yankees haven’t won a World Series in six years after they captured four in a five-year span of the late 90s and 2000. They buy players and look for the quick fix – sound familiar?
The Seattle Mariners, however, made a smart business decision not to try and outbid the Yankees and Red Sox on Matsuzaka. They made an even better decision to play the game with Igawa’s posting with a conservative eye.
So far, the Seattle Mariners have given no inclination that they are going to be signing overpriced, risky, aging free agents to four and five-year contracts, and that includes Jason Schmidt.
The club could have gotten involved in the talks for Carlos Lee, but didn’t even consider paying the preposterous price, nor should they have.
But onward go the big-market, big-money teams, spending away and barely looking at what they’re getting for their money, and the Chicago Cubs are as guilty of this as anyone in recent memory.
The 2005 Cubs had two main issues, aside from the health of their best players, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez; starting pitching and getting on base.
So what did they do over the past four weeks? Signed two players over the age of thirty with nearly identical career OBP’s of .331 and .325, to three and eight year deals, totalling $149 million dollars — and neither are pitchers, either. Good luck with that, Lou.
Chicago offered RHP Jason Schmidt a three-year deal believed to be worth more than $40 million, too, and that offer may have a fourth year vesting option worth $14 million – that’s 4/54 for a 34-year-old declining pitcher with a history of nagging back and shoulder problems.
There’s been one solid free-agent signing this winter, and that’s the 3-year, $12 million deal that OF/DH David Dellucci signed with the Cleveland Indians on Monday. Other than that, every contract has disaster written all over it.
And ya know what? None of them (yet) were signed by players who will wear navy and white next season. Let’s all be thankful for that.
The longer the Mariners go without getting into the free agent market, the more it appears they are curbing their interests in this year’s market. And that’s a good thing… a very good thing.
Notes: The trade front has cooled, but there are things on the burner in Bavasi’s office, though he’s supposedly been home in SoCal, apparently GM’ing remotely… Jeremy Reed will not be a Mariner come Christmas… Teams are asking Seattle for closer J.J. Putz… The Giants aren’t likely to bite on Richie Sexson as they plan on either re-upping with Bonds or spending the extra money on pitching… Don’t expect the Manny Ramirez rumors to end until he actually gets dealt… but for some reason Seattle isn’t being proactive so Ramirez isn’t coming here, not that he’d waive his no-trade for Seattle anyways.
Prospect Watch: Early signs point to the Mariners re-signing RHP Jorge Campillo, who was DFA’d earlier this month in order to make room on the 40-man roster for the necessary rule 5 protection. If he returns, Campillo, 28, could battle for a spot at the end of the M’s rotation… Last June’s first-round pick Brandon Morrow is likely to start the 2007 season in Double-A West Tennessee with a chance to join the M’s bullpen by the end of the year. Don’t worry, he’s still a prospect for the rotation, but he’ll probably get the Joel Pineiro treatment in that regard… Expect newly signed Latin prospects Mario Martinez and Carlos Truinfel to both play in the states this year, likely in Peoria with the rookie club. Martinez, a multi-tooled outfielder, signed for $650,000 last month and the 16-year-old Truinfel, a five-tool shortstop, signed for more than 1$ million and is considered among the top 10 prospects in the organization by, well, me… The Tacoma Rainiers added an owner today. Yep, Mr. Nick Lachey, formely Mr. Jessica Simpson, joined the Dallas based ownership group. I guess that means I’ll have to listen to his sappy, crappy pop songs from the press box at Cheney now.