With the baseball off season slowly winding to a close, a theme has begun to emerge for me. It’s that all of us who follow these things closely, from the beat writers to the TV pundits to those of us in the blogosphere, we all have no idea what’s going to happen. It’s akin to predicting who’s going to win the World Series. We all have our consensus favorites, and were right about 25% of the time, if that. With that on the table, here’s the 3 main conclusions I’ve drawn from observing the 2010-11 off season:
-Yankee money guarantees nothing
Some of us always knew this. If you’ve ever listened to someone like Marvin Miller explain the rationale behind the establishment of free agent rights with the 1970 Curt Flood Supreme Court case and Andy Messersmith being the first to declare back in 1975, it was to give players the right to play wherever they want at a certain point of their career. Money’s certainly a factor, but the reality is that even players at the highest end of the market often choose between many teams. It’s about supply and demand, and there just aren’t many aces in the game to begin with, so finding a premium talent via free agency is even more difficult. When one as good as Cliff Lee becomes available, he will still have multiple suitors even after the point when his price tag gets absurd. The Yanks offered the most guaranteed dollars, went to a 7th year and still (by all accounts) came in 3rd place in the bidding. They did pretty much all they can do, and still fell short.
-There’s no such thing as an unmovable contract
Just as there is always a greater fool who will outbid all the rational bids for a player’s services in free agency, there is always a deal out there to be made regarding a player who is still reasonably productive. Vernon Wells proves this beyond any doubt. In most cases, the team has to eat much of the bad money in order to move the player, but sometimes that rule doesn’t even apply. Angels GM Tony Reagins actually took the entire deal AND gave significant value back in return. Not only that, he created a hole for himself at Catcher. The next time you’re arguing with a buddy over getting some awful deal off your team’s books and he says to you it’s impossible, just reply ‘Vernon Wells’. End of debate. We all try to assume that GMs will behave rationally, but there’s just too much evidence to the contrary.
-You can’t predict where free agents will land
Did anyone think Jayson Werth would land in Washington? What’s the point of Carl Crawford’s speed with the Green Monster in Fenway Park? The Rangers have a Third Baseman, they don’t need Adrian Beltre. Brian Cashman stated unequivocally he’s not giving up a 1st round draft pick for a reliever. And nobody believes Jon Heyman with all this “mystery team” nonsense on Cliff Lee. Everyone knows he’s going to be a Yankee, right? Again, there’s a very limited supply of top talent at any given position, so strange things happen. And this off season has been one of the strangest I can recall.
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