Thursday, November 23, 2006

Stop the Madness!

When did major league baseball GMs and owners decide to go Dan Snyder on us and overpay anyone who's put on a glove? The Cubs paying $136 million for 31 year old-to-be Alfonso Soriano was excessive, but at least he's one of the top offensive forces in the game. The Red Sox paying $51 million just to negotiate with Japanese star pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka is huge, but he's only 26, and if he's as good as everyone says he is, you'd have to consider that a necessary price of doing business.

But the Angels paying $50 million over 5 years for centerfielder Gary Matthews Jr? We need to draw the line here. At this point, you're just throwing your money away. This past season his numbers for Texas were: .313, 19 HR and 79 RBI, and he made his first All-Star Game. Don't get me wrong, he's a good player, but he came up with his career-best numbers in a contract year, and has not had anywhere near the kind of season he had last year at any other time in his career. Wouldn't you think you'd like to have a little less risk in your substantial investment - for example, knowing that he could put together his numbers two years in a row?

What really boggles my mind on this signing is that the Angels could have stuck with their current outfield roster and probably come out even without having had to spend $50 million. Instead of bringing in Matthews, why not give utility-man extraordinaire Chone Figgins a chance to start everyday in center? Figgins is four years younger than Matthews, has a higher career batting average (.285 to Matthews' .263), and gives an added dimension as a real base running threat (52 stolen bases last year to Matthews' 10). While Matthews will likely get you somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 HR and 25 RBIs more than Figgins would provide, in addition to some spectacular defense, is that really worth an additional $10 million per year? I guess the Angels think so, but I don't.

I know that some people will say that a huge part of Figgins' value is in his versatility, but the Angels have young Maicer Izturis looking to emerge at third base, the infield position that Figgins plays most often, along with strong corner outfielders in perennial MVP candidate Vladimir Guerrero and the solid Juan Rivera. Plus, this guy's been bounced around the field enough with nary a complaint the last few years - doesn't the Angels organization at least owe him a well-deserved shot to stick at one position rather than importing an expensive free agent?

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