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GMs Gone Wild
2005-11-17 21:25
by Mike Carminati

These are heady times for general managers. With over 200 free agents available and the winter meetings approaching, they now have time to sit back and methodically assemble the necessary components while spending their available funds prudently.

Or they can just dump tons of money on superfluous middle relievers and oft-injured starting pitchers.

There are reports that A.J. Burnett, a.k.a. A.J. Burnout, is demanding five years and $50M just to have a sit-down wid a friend of ours, ja know whad I mean? Not only that: the Jays are ready to pony up the cashola. Must be Canadian dollars.

This is a guy who has amassed 200 innings in a year just twice in his 6+ seasons. He's never exceeded 12 wins in any season (I know, wins aren't an accurate reflection of the individual's performance yudda yudda, but still).

He's a good pitcher, but if the team that signs him gets three full seasons out of five they'll be lucky.

Besides recent history hasn't been too favorable for NL pitchers headed to the AL though there is a spate of AL-to-NL guys who have been revelations (Clemens, Carpenter, etc.). Maybe it's the DH, maybe it's the disparity in talent between the two leagues.

I'm thinking of the Darren Dreifort re-signing in LA plus having to face the DH.

But wait, it gets even nuttier. The Cubs, who finished 21 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central, made a few bold moves. After resigning Neifi Perez for $5 over two years—this is a 32-year-old player coming off a career year with just a .298 on-base percentage and a 77 adjusted OPS—the Northsiders went out and locked up…a lefty middle reliever.

I guess it's not like the crosstown rivals won the Series this year while the Cubbies haven't won since 1908 or anything. Oh, and they let Nomar Garciaparra walk while they were at it.

Eyre has made a collective $4.37M in his nine-year career. He'll make an average of $5.5M per year over the next two. That's a ton of money for a guy who's most similar pitcher is Paul Mirabella.

Eyre could serve up 50-70 quality innings as he's done in San Fran or he could return to his 5.00+ ERAs while plying his trade for the other Chicago franchise. I guess the Cubs noticed that some nitwit cast a ninth-place MVP vote on Eyre.

But I'm sure Jim Hendry's not done. Kelly Wunsch and Braden Looper are awaiting multi-year, multi-million-dollar contracts. Who could possibly be competing Eyre up to that kind of Amigo money?—middle-reliever lover Ed Wade no longer is in a position to drive up prices. I guess that's what you get when the average age of a GM is quickly approaching the average age of a McDonald's employee. I hope the Cubbies got fries with Eyre.

2005-11-18 06:43:52
1.   Jon T
I'm sure Cubs fans are wishing they signed Neifi Perez for $5. He's possibly a bargain at that price, but at $5M, this is a very Christian Guzman-esque signing for the Cubs.
2005-11-18 06:52:26
2.   Mike Carminati
Oops, Peter Lorre took my "M". For those who get that joke, we salute you. Fire!
2005-11-18 07:59:44
3.   JNelson
Given the fact that Dusty Baker is managing the team, I frankly object to Neifi! being on the roster at all. The guy is a good late-inning defensive sub who for some inexplicable reason has managed to win Dusty's undying loyalty. As a result, he will almost certainly get far, far too many AB's, particularly in situations where the alternative would be to be to play a younger (and potentially better) player like Ronny Cedeno.

If you take money out of the equation, Dempster, Rusch, and Eyre are all perfectly reasonable signings. These are decent players who, if used properly, will probably perform well. Unfortunately, a)money is a part of the equation, and b)under Dusty's management, "if used properly" is a pretty big if.

On the other hand, there are two points to be made in Hendry's defense. First, nobody has made any really big moves yet, and Hendry has made quality trades in the past. Second, it's a weak free agent market, so there are probably a lot of FA's who are going to be overpaid. Damon for example, wants $84M over seven years. (That's what I like about Scott Boras, he's such a kidder.)

So although I'm not turning cartwheels over his off-season moves up to this point, I'm also not ready to write off the offseason as an abject failure just yet.

2005-11-18 12:18:42
4.   spycake
According to ESPN (via Cub Town), Eyre's deal is $11 million over three years, so he averages only $3.5 million each of the next two seasons. Not quite as bad, but still...

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