The Cubs and the Red Sox (and to a lesser extent, the Dodgers) have officially lost the right to refer to the Yankees as the Evil Empire. This money is getting crazy this year, reminiscent of the crazy free agency period in 2000-1. That year, Manny Ramirez signed with the Red Sox for 8 years, $160 million. Derek Jeter signed for 10 and $189. Mike Hampton got 8 years, $121 million. And of course, A-Rod got 10 years, $252 million. In the ensuing years, GMs around the league swore it would never happen again. Guess what?
Juan Pierre: 5 years, $44 million from LA.
Gary Matthews Jr: 5 years, $50 million from the Angels.
Alfonso Soriano: 8 years, $136 million from Cubs.
Vicente Padilla: 3 years, $33.75 million from Texas.
Ted Lilly: 4 years, $40 million from Cubs.
Jason Schmidt: 3 years, $47 million from LA.
JD Drew: 5 years, $70 million from Boston.
Julio Lugo: 4 years, $36 million from Boston.
Daisuke Matsuzaka: $51 million from Boston just to negotiate with him.
Frank Thomas: 2 years, $18 million from Toronto. To be a DH. At 38 years old.
Carlos Lee: 6 years, $100 million from Houston.
Luis Gonzalez: 1 year, $7 million from LA. (He’s 39)
Adam Eaton: 3 years, $24.5 million from Philly.
And we haven’t even gotten to Barry Zito, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, or Andy Pettitte yet. The Cubs have now spent over $200 million this offseason on 2 players (Aramis Ramirez and Soriano). The Yankees and Mets are looking like the most sane teams this offseason, having done very little.
Ah, and the Nationals. Our poor, deluded Nationals. I don’t begrudge them staying on the sidelines of this bloodbath. But the noises coming out of the front office are not encouraging. We have no starting pitching. We lost our biggest offensive weapon in Soriano. Our biggest trade bait is Ryan Church. The front office is bringing up the 119 loss Tigers and the 2006 Marlins as models of how the next few years will go. I’ve got news for them. Both teams had scads of young talent moving up through the minors that helped them succeed. The Nationals have none. No stud young starting pitching like Verlander, Bonderman and Robertson in Detroit and Dontrelle, Josh Johnson and Anibel Sanchez in Florida. Those teams had/have growing pains, but the future is bright. The Nationals’ top prospect is Kory Casto, an outfielder who hit .272 in AA last season. There is little pitching in the farm system, and their only returning starter is John Patterson, who spent most of 2006 out with an injury (as he’s spent a lot of his career). The management is hoping that a 100 loss season this year won’t overly affect attendance in 2008 when they (hopefully) open the new stadium. I have my doubts, but I still plan on being there for Opening Day again this year.