Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Few Market Thoughts

        By Ross Newhan

     ---Maybe Cliff Lee, in spurning more money from the Yankees and probably from the Rangers, really enjoyed his experience in Philadelphia and wanted to be part of what now becomes an illustrious rotation. Or maybe he just doesn't like the idea of putting the bulk of the financial and fan expectations on his own shoulders, even though he seemingly has the ability to do just that. And the fact remains that Lee will still earn the highest average annual salary among pitchers on a multi year contract---about $24 million.

      ---When you have the big money Yankees and Red Sox lurking behind every negotiation, why would you give either the chance of blowing you out as the Angels did with Carl Crawford? The free agent outfielder and speedster was the one player the Angels wanted and needed most, and owner Arte Moreno had said when the season ended that money would be no obstacle in getting his team back to the playoffs. Yet Tony Reagins' initial offer to the prized Crawford was $106 million, not even as much as the Washington Nationals--the Washington Nationals--had ultimately given Jayson Werth. Why not show Crawford from the start how serious you are and try to blast out both of the Evil Empires instead of playing a negotiating game? Crawford might have still ended up with the Red Sox, but doesn't opening with an overpaying bid for the player you really want make more sense than ultimately overpaying for Scott Downs?

    ---Dan Duquette, the former Red Sox GM,  points out Crawford's unique value: He's only the eighth player since 1900 to attain 100 homers, 100 triples and 400 stolen bases. The others: Cobb, Speaker, Brock, Frish, Lofton, Molitor and Raines, and Crawford has done it at a younger age than any of the other seven.

    ---The loss of Lee probably intensifies the Rangers interest in Adrian Beltre (Michael Young would probably move to DH), creating another bidding war for the Angels, who had hoped to keep the price down on Beltre. 

     ---I'll stick with my belief that Dodger GM Ned Colletti has done as well as he could under his financial restraints while acknowleding that his additions haven't exactly left you dialing the season ticket number, and he still needs an outfielder with an impact bat. Manny Ramirez?

    ---Of course, how do you explain Frank McCourt's financial restraints when he continues to stay at one of Beverly Hills' most expensive hotels and recently took a lady friend on a Paris vacation? However, if Jamie McCourt continues to win legal decisions most insiders believe Frank's indebtedness will compel him to sell the Dodgers, or Commissioner Bud Selig will take some form of custodial action.

    ---Eugene Orza, the longtime war horse of the players union who has announced he will soon be retiring, still can't fathom what he considers the latest Hall of Fame snub at union icon Marvin Miller by the Expansion Era committee's failure to elect him by one vote. "I just don't know how people justify it intellectually and can't imagine why the individual votes aren't made public," Orza said by phone. "Marvin changed the landscape, and it's the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Would a national art museum not include Renoir, Rembrandt or Van Gogh?" (Disclaimer: As a member of the Expansion Era committee I will continue to honor the Hall's request that we refrain from discussing our individual votes and deliberations, but I do believe the Hall should consider a permanent exhibit featuring Miller and the union.)

   ---The acquisitions of Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy should give the left side of Buck Showalter's Oriole infield a boost, although Reynolds home run total with Arizona fell from 44 to 32 last year when he led the National League in strike outs for the third straight year, and Hardy, after hitting a total of 50 homers in 2007 and 2008, hit 11 in 2009 and only six last season while playing in the homer happy Metrodome.



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