Today, the Phillies reportedly signed Jim Thome to a 6-year contract that pays him on average $14.5 M per year. Conventional wisdom dicates that since Thome will be 38 at the end of that contract and has already had back problems and since the Phillies play in the mostly DH-less NL, they have made a bad gamble. Thome is a great offensive player but the chances of him being able to play first in six years seem slim. Well, that may be.
However, I just read on ESPN that the Cubs signed Mike Remlinger to a 3-year, $10.5 M contract. My first reaction was, "Didn't that happen already?" And then I was left wondering how anyone could possibly criticize the Phillies for signing a premier player at possibly a salary above the current market when the Cubs make this lulu of a deal. Remlinger is 36. He has pitched well for the last four years with Atlanta, but in his six previous years with three different organizations Remlinger pitched poorly at best (only once did he have an ERA better than the park-adjusted league average but was cosiderably worse in the other years). Also, though he averages about a strikeout per inning, he has never been successful as a closer (nor as a starter) and his worst year with the Braves came when they tried to work him as a closer (2000).
So the Cubs get an old, long reliever who is iffy outside of Turner field. There is a very low probability that this move will substantively help the Cubs. If Remlinger matches his performance with the Braves for the last three years, which is iffy at best, he would still not be worth $10.5 over three years in today's market. Also, who is to say that the Cubs will compete in the near future. Do they even need an expensive long reliever? Meanwhile Greg Maddux's phone is apparently still awaiting its first free-agent ring.