If, like me, you were shuttled away from a computer yesterday, with nary the time to sneak quick glimpses at your cell phone, you may have woken up and wondered: what the hell happened? For in one short burst, arguably the best remaining free agents have gone on to live in greener pastures.
Josh Hamilton signs with the Angels.
This deal confuses me. Sure, the money’s (5 years, $125 million) not a problem, at least for the next two to three seasons, but that’s what you’re paying for: two or three shots at a title followed by an albatross that the fans hate. Which is always strange.
No, what doesn’t make sense is that the Angels dropped out of the Greinke conversation when the Dodgers ended up paying him an annual salary below Hamilton’s. While pitchers are riskier propositions, Hamilton has his own lengthy injury history and indicators that when his bat speed slows, he’ll be unable to compensate by laying off pitches out of the strike zone. Plus, the Angels desperately need pitching, not really throwing anything out there beyond CJ Wilson and Jered Weaver. But maybe this was just to get at the Rangers, letting them know that their two free agents both left for the Angels in consecutive years.
And when you have a lineup like this, do you really need pitching?
1. Mike Trout
2. Erick Aybar
3. Albert Pujols
4. Josh Hamilton
5. Kendrys Morales
6. Mark Trumbo
7. Howie Kendrick
8. Alberto Callaspo
9. Chris Iannetta
Seriously, where is the flaw in that order? There isn’t one. Of course, remove Hamilton and stick Bourjos back in there, and thanks to the fact that the team already has two of the best hitters on the planet, Pujols and Trout, and factor in Bourjos amazing defense and the gap tightens.
After the signing, Jon Daniels also took to the press, complaining about Hamilton not giving the Rangers one final chance to snag him. Besides Daniels having the last six months of the season and the first two of the offseason, I’m not sure what right he has to be angry. Would you really want an employer who’s not willing to offer you a contract, but wants to see what someone else will pay you? I know people like to think that because ballplayers are earning millions of dollars that they’re not actually people, but no matter how many times people say ‘it’s business,’ it never is. Or, it usually isn’t.
So while the Yankees shrink their payrolls for some reason, apparently unhappy with the level of profit they already generate, the West Coast is where you’ll need to be if you want to watch $200 million behemoths.
Tigers Sign Anibal Sanchez.
After the Royals made their move to try and keep pace in the Central, and the Cubs did their darndest to win over Sanchez, offering a $75 million contract, the Tigers dug deep and got their pitcher. It’s a move the Tigers needed to make if they wanted to keep their stranglehold on the division. With the club still in a position to win the World Series, they needed another pitcher to slot in with Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, and the hopeful continuing improvement of Rick Porcello.
Barring injuries or misfortune, like Prince Fielder’s declaration that he would prefer not to play baseball anymore, the Tigers are again a favorite in the AL Central. And after three straight seasons of being worth over $17 million according to Fangraphs, a 5 year, $80 million deal isn’t even an overpay.
Red Sox sign Ryan Dempster for two years, $26.5 million.
And now the Red Sox have once again cobbled together a rotation. Based on my highly technical, GUT REACTION MONITOR, here will be Dempster’s next two seasons:
21-15, 4.42 ERA, 380 IP, 7.3 K/9.
There you go, a perfectly reasonable expectation for a 35 year old pitcher moving to the AL East. And those are numbers that the Red Sox should be happy with as they desperately need added and effective innings, even if Bucholz and Lester bounce back. Is this the signing that makes the Red Sox World Series contenders? No, but small steps. Small little baby steps.
And now the biggest signing of all…
The Cardinals signed Ty Wigginton. Let us all rejoice at the thought of the egg shaped Wigginton wearing striped stirrup socks. It’s a Christmas miracle.