Beasts in the East

It’s no secret that the American League East has been the superior division in Major League Baseball for quite sometime. For the past decade or so the Yankees and Red Sox have ruled that division, winning either the wild-card or the division. The Tampa Bay Rays broke onto the scene in 2008 and stole the division title away from both the Yankees and Red Sox. The once powerful American League East became a three pony race. This year in 2012, the Rays are currently in the lead of the division, while everybody else is looking up at them. The disparity of the division is only 3 games from worst to first and all the teams are donning winning records. The Baltimore Orioles are in second place! Yes, the same Orioles who last year scrambled together 69 wins. Just 54 games into the season and they are almost half-way to last years win total. I previously said that through the first quarter of the season Buck Showalter was the Manager of the Year in the American League. Of course there is plenty of baseball left in the season and anything can happen. That old three pony race might come to life again. Then again the three ponies could have different names this year. It will be exciting to watch the rest of the season and to see if the powerhouse teams will ultimately outrun the once bottom feeders of the division.

The best division in the National League this year is easily the East as well. The Atlanta Braves ruled the division for what seemed like eternity until 2006, when the Mets ran away with the division title. Then in 2007 Philadelphia became the “team to beat” in the National League East and have yet to relinquish the title. The Division always seemed like it had a clear favorite to win it each year, but 2012 has brought a change to that outlook. Many experts picked the Phillies to win the division yet again, while claiming the Miami Marlins, Atlanta Braves, and the highly touted pitching staff of the Washington Nationals to fight and claw for second place. The New York Mets were written off and were doomed to claim last place in the division winning 70 games at best. My argument there is a whole other blog in itself and I wrote about it before the season started. The National League East right now as it stands is separated by 3.5 games. The favorite Phillies are holding down the last spot, mainly due to injuries, while the Nationals, Mets, and Marlins are all tied for first place. Like I said before, there is still a lot of baseball to be played and there is no telling what the dog days of summer and pennant races will do to a team’s psyche. I still believe my Mets can win anywhere from 82-90 games barring no detrimental injuries, although a few setbacks have already taken place. The Nationals pitching staff is outstanding right now and I overlooked their great manager Davey Johnson. Mets fans know him all too well. The Marlins seem to be streaking and the Braves will continue to fight.

The East is by far the best in baseball. Just check out the winning percentages of the divisions. The National League East currently has the highest winning percentage in baseball at .554 and the American League East sports the second highest with a .543 winning percentage. There are no other divisions in baseball with a winning percentage over.500 and the third closest is almost .100 points lower than the American League East. Maybe it helps that the three highest paid teams are in these divisions. Maybe it helps that in order to compete in these divisions you need to have good pitching and pitching is what wins in this league. Especially in the post steroids era where scoring numbers are down, pitching is key. The beasts in the east all have pretty exceptional rotations. With the expansion of an extra wild card team, don’t be surprised if three teams from each division make it to the playoffs this year.

For MLB standings go to:
http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/standings/index.jsp

No-Han Makes History

50 years. 8019 games. The New York Mets have never thrown a no-hitter. A franchise rich with pitching for decades, including Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Jerry Koosman, and Doc Gooden; no member of the Mets has ever achieved this feat. Seaver and Nolan have thrown plenty of no-hitters, after they left New York. The Mets took the field for game 8020 in its franchise with Johan Santana taking the mound. Friday nights game was slated to be a pitcher’s duel. Two pitchers, Adam Wainwright and Johan Santana, missed all of 2011 due to injury. Before their injuries they were both revered as two of the best pitchers in the game. One of them maintained their part in pitching like an ace. Johan Santana made Mets history.

Johan Santana missed all of 2011 due to a major shoulder surgery. He was struggling all year to secure wins despite pitching very well in almost every one of his starts. Friday night, he made sure that any run support he received would be enough. Terry Collins had previously put a pitch count of 115 on Johan. Friday night Terry Collins would have to eat his words for the sake of his ace pitcher. Johan, 33 years old, has started 273 games before Friday night and his 274th start will be his most memorable to date. After pitching in almost 2000 innings he has never thrown more than 125 pitches. After a career high 134 pitches he became the first pitcher in Mets history to throw a no-hitter.

Former Met, Carlos Beltran made a bid for a hit to leadoff the 6th inning, but the call was blown by third-base umpire Adrian Johnson. The replay showed the ball landing on the chalk down the third-base line. A spectacular catch was made by Mike Baxter against the outfield wall in the 7th inning. He would have to be pulled out of the game due to what is now being called a left shoulder bruise. Johan struck out David Frese on a 3-2 count with 2 out in the top of the 9th to seal the no-hitter. Johan threw 134 pitches with 5 walks and 7 strikeouts. This came after coming off of his 4 hit complete game shutout of the Padres.

Baxter’s amazing catch and the missed call by Adrian Johnson helped aid Santana and the Mets in obtaining their first no-hitter. Friday night was a memorable night for every Mets fan.

SIDE NOTES:

Philip Humber who was traded for Johan Santana also threw a no-hitter earlier this year.

13 No-hitters have been thrown by former Mets.

The Mets have thrown 35 one-hitters.

6 No-hitters have been thrown against the Mets.

The Cardinals have not been no-hit in 22 years before Friday night.

Wherever I Wind Up

I have recently finished reading, Mets starting pitcher, R.A. Dickey’s memoir. What a great read it was and during my college years I was not known to be a reader. Maybe it’s different when you choose to read up on subjects that interest yourself, rather than being forced to read material of a professor’s choosing. If you’re not a baseball fan this book is still for you. If you’re not a Mets fan this book is still for you. If you think that you have struggled in life this book is for you. If you want to know what adversity truly is and a way for you to handle it is, well then this book is for you too.

R.A. Dickey, born Robert Allen Dickey, is not an overnight success story. He’s not even close. He comes clean about several “demons” he has faced in his life. If you are at all familiar with this book, R.A. Dickey, or heard about his tribulations, you know that R.A. Dickey was molested by a 13-year-old babysitter and a 17-year-old male. He held that secret in for decades before telling anyone. This has nothing to do with baseball and everything to do with life and the inhumane feelings a young boy felt. He was robbed of his innocence. He grew up in a home where his parents were separated and his mother battled alcohol problems. He cheated on his wife and as an adult he had thoughts of suicide because of how he deeply felt like a failure. He one day he tried to swim across the Missouri River. Half way through his swim he thought he wasn’t going to make it and drown right there. He went under and bounced off the ground before paddling his way to the side. It was at this moment R.A. Dickey felt like he was reborn, like he had just been baptized, ready to start anew. On the mound today R.A. Dickey doesn’t appear to have battled any of this, but he battled so much more.

R.A. Dickey was a star athlete in basketball, baseball, and football. He played point guard and quarterback in high school. He was probably a better pitcher than anything else and that’s what he pursued. He attended the University of Tennessee and majored in english. He was a student there the same time that Todd Helton and Peyton Manning attended. Those two have been household names for over a decade. R.A. Dickey is barely a household name now, but it almost seems like he just broke on the scene. He was drafted in 1996 by the Texas Rangers. He received an offer for $810,000 before the team and Dr. Andrews found out that he didn’t have a UCL (Ulnar Collateral Ligament). Then rescinded their offer and later offered him a measly $75,000. Remember Dickey was one of the top prospects coming into the draft. He was drafted in 1996 and didn’t make an MLB appearance until 2001. His first start was record-breaking, only in the way that you don’t want to be remembered for. He had allowed 6 long balls in just three innings. Dickey referred to himself as a four-A pitcher, meaning he was too good for Triple-A but not good enough for the Majors. He was starting to rack up records in the minor leagues which isn’t a good thing. It meant that he had spent too much time there.

I don’t want to give too much of the book away, but it was a great read. It is inspiring to know that someone who was thought to be a phenom and then a reject could persevere. He overcame great hardships as a young boy. He found God and his way into the Majors. He fought persistently to realize his dream. Dickey’s story is inspiring to anybody that has doubts about achieving their dreams. His long journey finally came to fruition at an age in baseball, particularly for pitchers, where it’s just about time to hang it up. Fortunately for Dickey, his knuckleball, will add years of life to his career and let him enjoy the moments he dreamed of his whole life.

The First Quarter Awards

The first quarter of the MLB season is in the books. Baseball is similar to a basketball game in which it’s a season of slumps and successes. Many columnists and sportswriters like to give out mid-season awards during the All-Star break. I would like to hand out awards for the roughly the first 25% of the season and would like to continue this every quarter. In doing this it would help in seeing who should win these awards at the end of the year. Some may agree, some may disagree, others may have other candidates they thought should have been selected. I’ll do awards for the American League and National League and then for MLB as a whole.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

MVP

1. Josh Hamilton- .389 AVG 18 HR 47 RBI 33 R 17 BB .442 OBP .785 SLG 1.227 OPS

Josh Hamilton is easily the first quarter MVP of the American League. He leads the league in all the triple crown categories right now and it’s not even close. He also leads the league in slugging and OPS. He’s a close second in on-base percentage. He’s also leading his team to the second best record in the league just a game behind the Baltimore Orioles.

2. Justin Verlander- 5W 1L 2.14 ERA 68 SO 0.80 WHIP 67.1 IP 14 BB

Justin Verlander is the reigning AL MVP. He has certainly earned the respect of being considered for it again. He is one of the best pitchers in the game over the past few years and is definitely showing his dominance again this year. He leads the league in earned run average, strikeouts, innings pitched, and WHIP. He is pretty much picking up where he left off last year. He almost threw his third no-hitter earlier this week. He has the kind of stuff that enables him the opportunity to throw a no-hitter.

3. Adam Jones- .308 AVG 14 HR 29 RBI 32 R 9 BB .353 OBP .610 SLG .964 OPS

Adam Jones is the best player on the best team through the first quarter of the season. He deserves to be mentioned in the MVP conversation at least this far into the season. The Orioles were only and afterthought playing in a division that has powerhouses like the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays. The Blue Jays have even shown some promise. The Baltimore Orioles finished last in their division last year and have turned it around right now. Adam Jones is a big reason for their success. I think he deserves credit.

CY YOUNG

1. Justin Verlander- 5W 1L 2.14 ERA 68 SO 0.80 WHIP 67.1 IP 14 BB

As mentioned before, Verlander is simply a beast. Lowest ERA, most punch outs, lowest WHIP, most innings pitched. The more I look at Verlander’s work, the more I am in awe. He is the best pitcher in the league. Need I say more?

2. Jake Peavy- 5W 1L 2.39 ERA 55 SO 0.91 WHIP 64.0 IP 11 BB

Jake Peavy is having a bounce back season so far after battling injuries for the past few seasons. This is the pitcher the White Sox hoped to have acquired in 2010. He is pitching like the Jake Peavy of old on the Sand Diego Padres. He’s third in the league in ERA, second in WHIP, and has one of the lowest walk totals for a starting pitcher. He’s also shown he can go the distance and has thrown 2 complete games, one being a shutout.

3. Yu Darvish- 6W 1L 2.60 ERA 58 SO 1.33 WHIP 52.0 IP 26 BB

Yu Darvish had a lot of expectations coming into the season. He was paid handsomely to come in and be the ace of a staff who had just lost their ace to free agency. He is essentially a rookie in this league and has shown that he can hang with them so far. He does allow plenty of walks, but his ERA shows that he can manage baserunners. He has the fourth best ERA, is tops in the league in wins, and fifth in strikeouts. He is also a candidate to win rookie of the year. Welcome to the league Yu.

MANAGER OF THE YEAR

Buck Showalter

Who else could it be? This team was written off before the season started. How could the Orioles compete with the talent that they are surrounded by in their division. Better than the Yankees? The Red Sox? The Rays? The Blue Jays? Yea. Believe it. Buck Showalter has gotten the most out of his roster who doesn’t seem like they could compete within their division. The Baltimore Orioles 27-15 record is best in the league. Yea, those Baltimore Orioles. Buck Showalter has the best record in the league in arguably the best division in baseball.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Yu Darvish

Yu Darvish is having a great rookie season thus far. He’s shown the ability to pitch and pitch well especially in a great hitters park. He is one of the best pitchers in the league right now and is doing so in his first season in the majors.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

MVP

1. Matt Kemp- .359 AVG 12 HR 28 RBI 29 R 20 BB .446 OBP .726 SLG 1.173 OPS

Matt Kemp to me is the best player on the planet. He’s a five-tool guy. He is currently on the 15-day DL and still has some of the best numbers in the national league. He has led his team to the best record in the majors at 28-13. The Dodgers don’t have much talent after Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp in the starting lineup, but the two are one of the best combos around the majors. Many believe Matt Kemp deserved MVP last year and I think he’s going to put together a campaign that cannot be denied this season.

2. David Wright- .412 AVG 4 HR 24 RBI 29 R 28 BB .513 OBP .626 SLG 1.138 OPS

David Wright is having a phenomenal year. Ok, maybe I’m biased because I’m a Mets fan, but it’s not like I put him at number 1. He’s batting .412 and is on base slightly over 50% of the time. He’s also doing this with little protection in the lineup. His walks are up and his strikeouts are down. His home run totals are not as high as one would expect, but I’ll take .412 with 4 bombs any day at this point in the season. Nobody expects the Mets to compete this year, nobody expects Wright to continue to hit .400, but this year, thus far has surprised a lot of people.

3. Carlos Beltran- .291 AVG 13 HR 33 RBI 28 R 22 BB .399 OBP .619 SLG 1.018 OPS

No Pujols, no problem. Carlos Beltran has plugged himself into this Cardinals lineup and they continue to head the NL Central division. Carlos Beltran looks like the Beltran of old. Give the guy credit he is having MVP like first quarter. He leads the league in homers and is second in runs batted in. Maybe some pitchers in the league deserve a candidacy, but I think it’s way more impressive if you dominate an AL lineup than a NL lineup. No NL lineup is that scary right now and the lack of DH doesn’t help either.

CY YOUNG

1. Brandon Beachy- 5W 1L 1.33 ERA 39 SO 0.89 WHIP 54.0 IP 14 BB

Beachy is having a great first quarter. He leads the majors in ERA. He is fourth in the league in WHIP. He is leading his team to the best record in the NL East which is the best division in the NL. He doesn’t have the strikeout power that many would be in awe of, but he doesn’t allow many walks and that ERA is just downright silly.

2. Clayton Kershaw- 4W 1L 1.90ERA 51 SO 0.88 WHIP 61.2 IP 12 BB

Clayton Kershaw is last season’s Cy Young award winner and my pick to win it at the end of this season. Dodgers have the best hitter and best pitcher in the league. Kershaw is the ace of the best team in baseball and his number prove it. He owns the third lowest ERA in the majors and the third best WHIP. He’s top 10 in punch outs and second in innings pitched. Kershaw could be the Cy Young at the end of the season.

3. Stephen Strasburg- 4W 1L 2.21 ERA 64 SO 1.02 WHIP 53.0 IP 13 BB

Strasburg is one of the best young pitchers in the game and definitely fun to watch. He is a power pitcher with control. He leads the league in strikeouts and is top 10 in ERA. He might be the horse that many staffs would like to have because of prior injuries, but his stuff is electric. He is the ace of a staff that might be the best in the NL. Strasburg when healthy is a phenom that is a treat to watch.

MANAGER OF THE YEAR

Terry Collins

I’m probably being biased here, but they own the fifth best record in the league. Most thought that they would own the fifth best record in the NL East. Collins does more with a roster that is filled with question marks than any other manager not named Buck Showalter. He utilizes his 25-man roster and has had some injuries that haven’t really slowed the team down. His only pitfall is bullpen management, but he doesn’t have much to work with there either.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Wade Miley- 5W 1L 2.14 ERA 30 SO 1.19 WHIP 46.1 IP 14 BB

Miley has really shown that he can pitch. He is arguably the best rookie pitcher in the league right now. Through the first quarter of the year he has been strong, even though most rookie pitchers tend to slow down in the second half. Right now Miley is a big contributor to his team with 5 wins and a low 2 ERA. I know pitchers don’t play as much as batters, but he is an asset to his team. Two pitchers could take home ROTY honors this season.

No Mo’ Rivera

Last night before game time, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was shagging fly balls in the outfield like he has been doing for his entire career. He does it to keep in shape, the 42-year-old closer says. Last night however shagging fly balls seemed to be detrimental to his health instead of keeping him healthy. He fell on the warning track in Kaufman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals, and grabbed his leg in pain. Much like Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert did last weekend except those two are in their early 20’s no their early 40’s. Rivera went in for an MRI last night which revealed a torn ACL. A huge blow was taken to the Yankee bullpen whom had Rivera cemented in the closer spot for years and is arguably the greatest closer Major League Baseball has ever witnessed.

Rivera was interviewed earlier today with tears in his eyes. It isn’t known whether or not he will return this year or at all. I know that all Yankee fans are hoping for a smooth recovery as this is not the way they envisioned one of the greatest Yankees of all time to go out. I’m no Yankee fan, actually I’m quite the opposite, I’m a Mets fan. That being said though, I’m not your typical Mets fan who hates the Yankees. I don’t boo Jeter when he steps to the plate against the Mets. Jeter is too great a player and person for me to be disrespectful in that aspect. I won’t say he “Jeter Sucks!!!”, because quite frankly that’s far from the truth. As for Mariano Rivera, there is no denying that he is probably the greatest closer to ever record a save. His postseason resume speaks volumes of his work and his adjusted ERA over the last 100 years with at least 1000 inning pitched ranks 1st all-time. The two pitchers he is ahead are Pedro Martinez and Walter Johnson, not too shabby of company.

SO what does this mean for the Yankees? Joe Girardi said that he’s leaning towards Robertson taking over Rivera’s role and using Soriano as the setup man, but he said he’ll have to sleep on it. Soriano has some closing experience and Robertson does not. Robertson has been one of the better bullpen arms in the past 2 years and probably deserves that role, but I don’t think it would be wise to rush him into it. Plus the Yankees paid Soriano $35 million so they might as well get some good use out of him. After that the Yankees bullpen seems to be wearing thin because they also lost Joba Chamberlain earlier in the year. The Yankee pitching rotation besides C.C. Sabathia has been all but consistent. Ivan Nova is probably their second best pitcher, but he’s young and like all young players can be inconsistent. Michael Pineda was traded for catching prospect Jesus Montero to help bolster the rotation, but is out for the season with an injury. If you don’t think the Yankees rotation is thin, the Yankees signed Andy Pettitte who hasn’t pitched in two years to help them. That right there is a sign that they need some rotation help and who knows how he will perform when he comes back. The Yankees are struggling right now as far as Yankee standards go and the loss of Mariano Rivera doesn’t help.

If you are a baseball fan, no matter what team you root for, you want to see Mariano Rivera go out on his own terms. Not due to injury, especially not one that wasn’t sustained during an actual game. I get the sense from seeing Mo speak that he might be done. He has had a great career no doubt, but I envisioned him leaving on his own two feet. He deserves that one last standing ovation, standing on the pitcher’s mound, dawning a Yankee uniform. Mo is 42-years-old and a speedy recovery and rehabilitation are not likely although, if he wants to make a return I’m sure he will work as hard as he can to make it back and throw one last cutter like nobody else has. Whatever happens I’m glad I got to see him pitch and I hope we all get to see him on the mound one last time before he calls it a career, a Hall of Fame one at that.

Wins are Overrated

Wins are overrated. Yea. Let that sink in. Wins are overrated. You’re probably thinking what is this guy talking about? Is he serious wins are overrated? In what sport? In what lifetime? The same guy that would say the only thing that matters is wins? Yea, that guy. Team wins are important, I’m not disputing that at all. I’m not a complete moron either, but wins are overrated. What do I mean? I talk a lot about sports with anybody who is willing to venture down that road. How do most people measure how successful a pitcher is? Unfortunately it’s by wins. This is how I came to the conclusion that wins are overrated. People start naming pitchers and most of them are good even great pitchers, but their perception is a bit skewed, often in the wrong direction. I used to be one of those people until I opened my eyes a bit wider.

Wins are a great stat…when you’re an agent trying to get your pitcher money that is comparable to another pitcher with the same amount of wins that your client had who happens to make more money. Again, wins are overrated. What pitching stats matter than? Well the best way to tell whether a pitcher is bad, good, or great is by their earned run average or ERA. ERA is the most telling sign of a pitcher’s performance. There are more statistics that are used to further explain a pitcher’s ERA such as adjusted ERA plus, which adjusts a pitcher’s ERA according to the pitcher’s ballpark and the league’s average ERA. The score is set at a 100, where a score above 100 would indicate a pitcher pitched better than average, below 100 would indicate being below average. Strikeouts and WHIP are good measures of how dominating a pitcher is, but not every great pitcher was a power pitcher, and not every power pitcher had dominating control. Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson are two very different pitchers but were both successful in their own way. Maddux had a career 3.16 ERA and Johnson had a career 3.29 ERA. Randy Johnson struck out 4875 batters while Maddux fanned 3371, about 1500 less than Johnson. Maddux pitches for 23 years and accumulated 355 wins while Johnson pitched for 22 years and compiled 303 wins. Hey a great pitcher is going to get wins, but that’s not my point.

A good pitcher pitching for a good team will accumulate wins. A good pitcher pitching for a terrible team, ehh, not so much. Chien-Ming Wang had back-to-back 19 win seasons in 2006 and 2007, but he posted an ERA of 3.63 and 3.70 respectively. In the American League anything under a 4.00 ERA and you’re considered a really good pitcher. In 2010 and 2011 R.A. Dickey had a combined win total of 19 wins. He posted a 2.84 ERA and a 3.28 ERA respectively. That’s more than a half a run better than Chien-Ming Wang had in the two years he won 19 games. Chien-Ming Wang was a really good pitcher in those years. R.A. Dickey was in the top 10 in ERA in the NL in 2010 and top 15 in 2011. Why didn’t he get the win totals that Wang got to enjoy? Simply put, the Mets suck and don’t score nearly as many runs as the crosstown Yankees do. Chien-Ming Wang was in the top 10 in ERA in 2006 and top 15 in 2007. He was tied for first in wins in the AL in 2006 and tied for second in 2007. R.A. Dickey wasn’t even in the top 25 in wins.

Steve Trachsel, won 15 games with the Mets in 2006 despite his 4.97 ERA. That year it seemed that every game he pitched the Mets just scored like 10 runs for him so he got the Wins. Steve Trachsel, really 15 wins? The same guy I used to call “Steve Trash” had 15 wins even with a 4.97 ERA. What’s even more disturbing is that Felix Hernandez won the Cy Young in 2010 with a 2.27 ERA and he only won 13 games. 13 games! With an ERA close to 2.00! If that isn’t the best example of why wins are overrated then I don’t know what is. I’ll give you a minute to rub your eyes, gasp in disbelief, or go to the bathroom and vomit over how sickening that is. So the next time someone wants to say “But he had “X” amount of wins he’s a really good pitcher”, just say “Steve Trash”, they’ll laugh and say “What?”, and you say “Exactly”.

Bad Contracts?

Over the past 15 years or so baseball organizations have handed out some lucrative contracts. The debate is whether or not these contracts are good or bad for baseball. A majority of owners, GM’s, and agents will argue that these contracts are good for baseball, for the team, the city, and the community. Anybody spending that kind of money better have the ability to justify shelling out those large amounts of coin. Some GM’s, coaches, and some smaller market teams might come up with an opposing argument on why paying players such fruitful contracts. Let’s play both sides of the fence.

I recently heard Scott Boras, Super-Agent, speak about how big and long tenured contracts are good for the game of baseball. He of course is biased since he takes a percentage of those same contracts that make people’s eyes pop out of their head. He brings up a good point in terms of marketability and a business investment. A player like Albert Pujols before signing his 10 year $254 million contract has earned roughly $104 million in his career thus far. Boras argues that he (Pujols) has made the Cardinals easily $150 million during his tenure as a St. Louis Cardinal. Thus signing a player like Pujols to a contract that might seem absurd to anybody else is actually a great business decision. You have to spend money to make money. That $100 million dollars wasn’t like going out and spending it on a car that would depreciate in value once you handed over the money and took the keys. It was like investing it in a stock that was sure to rise. In the business sense, yes it makes perfect sense. To a team and an owner who has that kind of money to spend it’s a great investment, but to a small market team who can’t afford it, ehh not so much. It pushes them right out of the market for a player like Pujols. That’s another reason why big market teams like the Yankees and Red Sox can pull off deals like this, because they have a large fan base. They also don’t want a player of that caliber to land on a rival team so over betting may be one way to make sure that that situation doesn’t happen.

Why is a bad decision to sign someone to such a cost-effective contract? There’s plenty of reasons; a several million reasons actually. First, most players don’t get these types of contracts when they are under 25 and it would be asinine to give such a young player a 10 year $200 million plus deal when they haven’t proven anything. Most players get them around 30 years of age give or take a few years. Let’s just say you get the deal at 30, then you’ll be 40 years old when your contract comes to an end, making the player 40. I’m not sure there is any player in baseball who is worth around $20 million a year at that age. In Pujols’ case he will be 42 years old and his contract is heavily back loaded at $30 million a year in his final year. Pujols may be the greatest hitter I’ve ever witnessed, but at 42 years old and $30 million later I’m not so sure he’s worth that. Let’s say the Angels in the next few years hit a potential snag in their finances and can only spend $100 million a year on their roster. Well 30% of that number is already locked up into one player. Can’t happen? Anything is possible just ask Mets owner Fred Wilpon, who cut roughly $50 million in payroll this year due to inflexible financial issues.

Most of these contracts are given out after a player has performed well enough to deserve such a deal. At that point most of these players are in their prime and will most likely be past their prime well before their contract runs out. Only a few players are inked to a deal right as they are hitting their prime. Alex Rodriguez was one of them. The 10-year $256 million deal he signed in 2001 came at a perfect time. Don’t forget though that he never played out the full 10 years before signing another 10-year deal at even more eye-opening $275 million. The first time he signed a 10-year deal may have been justified somehow, but the second time around, hardly. He is nowhere near the player he once was. That is no fault of his own, he’s 36 now and it would be impossible to think that he could still put up the numbers he did 6 years ago after going thru such a grueling baseball season year in and out.

Troy Tulowitzki is another example of possibly justifying getting a 10-year contract being that he is still young, getting his deal at 26. His contract also entails that he never makes more than $20 million in a given year which kicks in when he turns 30, around the time a player is expected to hit their prime years. His contract isn’t heavily backloaded like most contracts as he will make $14 million in his final year of the contract with $15 million team option or a $4 million buyout. Tulowitzki’s contract was only for $157 million over 10 years which is about $100 million less than the big contracts that A-Rod and Pujols receieved, and about $60 million less than Prince Fielder’s deal. The Colorado Rockies aren’t deemed a big market team and they did what they had to do to lock up arguably the best shortstop in the game. Players like that don’t come around too often especially at the shortstop position so it is understandable to give him such a long-term deal. He’s one of the rare cases in baseball where his contract is completely justifiable as was A-Rod’s first 10-year deal.

As a pure baseball decision most of these contracts never pan out. Maybe you get several good years of production from these players, but the latter days of these contracts don’t really go as expected particularly with the amount of dollar they make. When someone is making $15 million-plus they are expected to put up a certain production level. Not all short-year big-money contracts work out either. Take Jason Bay for example. He made upward of $18 million last year and performed well under what his production was expected and that’s being nice. GM’s will strikeout when it comes to getting what they payed for, it happens. It can be avoided though by giving maximum 6-year deals. Those deals should only be given to baseball’s elite. Take Jose Reyes for instance, he just signed a 6-year $106 million deal. He only played in 126 games last year and no more than 133 games in the past 3 years. Is that the kid of money you want to spend on a guy who might not be able to take even take the field? I love Jose Reyes and I think he’s a great player, but he has been injury prone his whole career. That has to be taken into consideration. I understand he might be the most exciting player in the game to watch, but GM’s should proceed with caution when it comes to him. He gives it 100% every game and doesn’t hold back and you have to love that about any player, but the way he plays the game is reason why is oft injured. Then again he is an elite player at his position and like I said before no more than a 6-year contract should be given out. The Marlins seemed to follow that protocol.

Another reason why these deals are ludicrous is because this money is guaranteed whether they play all 162 games or if they are hurt. Unlike the NFL, and this is where I think the NFL has it right when it comes to giving out contracts, these deals are 100% guaranteed money. If the contracts given out such that one got a 10-year $250 million deal, but only $125 was guaranteed then it would make more sense and save GM’s and owners from themselves. Once they start handing out contracts with long years and big money the next player to hit free agency will compare themselves to that player to induce such contracts. It’s a vicious cycle and the owners got the ball rolling on this one.

Maybe I can’t fathom why these players get such contracts because they are making preposterous amounts of money. According to Forbes, the average American makes $51,000 a year. A-Rod and Pujols will make about triple that per game at about $170,000 and $157,000 per game respectively. So it will take the average American three years to make what these guys make in about 3 hours of playing a kids game! Where did we go wrong? Ok their talents are undeniably greater than mine or any person not playing professional baseball, but those numbers are insane. We are partly to blame. We buy the tickets, we buy the jerseys, we idolize these demi-gods. I’m not complaining. Ok maybe I am a little bit.

Of the top 20 highest paid players in the MLB last year only about 4 played up to their expected production. Those players are C.C. Sabathia, Roy Halladay, Miguel Cabrera, and Ryan Howard. Even Ryan Howard’s BA. is suspect, but he gets paid to hit home runs and drive in runs and he is one of the best at doing that. I’m no math genius but that means that only 20% of the highest paid players actually performed up to par with what they get paid. They all got paid ranging from $32 million (A-Rod) to $16.5 million (A.J. Burnett). The proof is in the pudding. Nothing is going to stop these contracts from being written up and signed by MLB players, but GM’s should seriously think about lowering the length of these contracts. Salary cap anybody?

Wonder why Pujols and Fielder fled to the American League? The DH period. Of all the 8 year plus contracts given out only 3 have been signed in the National League, all by the Colorado Rockies, to Mike Hampton (8 years), Troy Tulowitzki (10 years), and Todd Helton (11 years). The AL has the power to move these players to DH when they can no longer be of adequate service on the field. The NL does not have the pleasure of doing that. Maybe we can blame the AL. Maybe we can blame the GM’s. Maybe we can blame ourselves. Either way bad contracts will continue to be handed out like flyers on the street. I’m not saying anything that a GM hasn’t heard already, but then hey it’s not like their spending someone else’s money.