Sunday, February 03, 2008

Copycat Lazy Sunday

If imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery, color me flattered this morning as the newspaper that arrived on my doorstep this morning was full of ideas and notions explored (in much greater detail) previously in this space.

Certainly my modesty prevents me from truly believing that the local sportswriters are simply adapting my ideas into their columns (as…really, they and I simply report on what is happening), but it is eerie:
For starters, Paul Hoynes (after embarrassing himself with this – check out that opening line dripping with negativity – cursory look at the Santana-Sabathia relationship earlier in the week) comes with more of the same, “examining” contracts for pitchers in comparable situations to Sabathia, something that was explored back in October here! Regardless of where he cherry picks his information to compile, Hoynes’ on-the-surface offering provides little insight, if any at all…this for a reporter with obvious access to the Indians’ front office, quoting Chris Antonetti in the piece.

Further back in the paper, Terry Pluto, after touching on the issue of the length of a pitcher’s contract (wasn’t this same notion thoroughly examined about two weeks ago in some detail) asserts that Sabathia’s future will have an effect on the Indians’ pitching staff going forward as, if he doesn’t extend his contract, both he and Paul Byrd will be exiting the rotation after 2008 with the hope that Atom Miller, Jeremy Sowers, Aaron Laffey, or even Chuck Lofgren can fill the void. What he fails to mention is that, if Sabathia does not re-up with the Tribe, his $11.25M salary comes off the books with Byrd’s $8M salary, leaving the Indians almost $20M to spend as they see most fit…all while not drastically affecting the payroll landscape for 2009. While the Indians would love to simply promote from within, don’t you think the Indians could peruse this list and find some value at that point, if it comes to that?
Maybe like…I don’t know a Brad Penny or a Ben Sheets or a Joe Nathan or maybe even a Vlad Guerrero?

Obviously, this is putting the cart before the horse and the ideal conclusion to the dilemma is to ink C.C. to another deal, but this stuff doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If Sabathia doesn’t stay in Cleveland, is the Front Office going to look at their feet and bemoan the loss of C.C.?
Not bloody likely.
With the salaries of the majority of the core essentially spoken for through 2010, you don’t think that Cleveland would be an attractive destination for Free Agents? And you don’t think that some staffer at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario is already working on contingency plans?

Now, does the Santana deal affect C.C.’s negotiations? No question as it provides another point of reference for the two sides to consider. But just because the Mets painted themselves into a corner by essentially having to acquiesce to Santana’s contract demands (they didn’t want to offer the 6th guaranteed year, but what could they do…walk away?) doesn’t mean that the Indians should make the same mistake with Sabathia.

By the way, did anyone notice that Santana’s deal is really a 5-year extension with a bump in salary for his 2008?
2014:$25M club option ($5.5M buyout)
Seeing as how Santana was scheduled to earn $13.25M in 2008, it represents a $5.75M bump in salary for next year, $113M in guaranteed salary through 2013 and a $5.5M buyout for 2014. So, in reality, Santana’s contract is a 5-year, $124.25M extension. Take out the final year of the contract to see what the Mets wanted to sign him for and it could be ascertained that a 4-year, $98.75M extension was as far as they wanted to extend themselves (even less if the buyout money is omitted) before realizing what a PR nightmare they would have on their hands after much of the heavy lifting for the deal was already done.

Santana’s agents, obviously, wanted to rip up his old contract to trumpet that they got a 6-year deal (in the crazy world of sports representation, this is actually important) worth a guaranteed $137.5M. But, depending how the contract is viewed, it is a 5-year extension.

And isn't this what we thought all along?
The debate has always been whether that 2013 year is guaranteed or is an option. Knowing that guaranteed money and an extra year are a big deal, outside of that 6th year guaranteed, how does this look much different than what was suggested here last Tuesday? The Mets, thoroughly backed into a corner, gave Santana the 6th guaranteed year. Truly, nothing has changed as we all know that handing C.C. a deal that guarantees 6 or 7 years is imprudent and that Santana’s contract certainly serves notice that Sabathia can get that on the open market. As always, the answer will come down to what C.C. wants to do, as any potential new team won’t offer him any greater opportunity to win, with the Indians poised to contend with all of the same pieces and parts for the next 3 years, at least. Is one more guaranteed year (theTribe is on record for a 4-year extension offer), the dealbreaker for the Crooked Cap to stay or go?
Ultimately, it comes down to C.C.

One of the best takes on the Santana deal, how it came about, and what it means, is offered by Ken Rosenthal as dissects it. Additionally, if you want a terrific read on what the Santana deal means, in the greater sense of how it affects baseball and the landscape of contracts as a whole, Jayson Stark’s piece sums it up very nicely.

Outside of all things C.C., the Indians avoided arbitration with Casey Blake, settling on a $6.1M contract, which is more of an indication of how contracts work in MLB based on service time and how arbitration is set up to work. The real news with the Blake deal is not the dollars connected to it, but the fact that the Indians only inked Blake for one year, meaning that the Indians didn’t want to impede the progress of one of their young 3B by throwing up a multiyear roadblock in Blake. Blake is a nice piece to have for the Indians as they continue to flesh out their roster going forward, but his usefulness has an inverse relationship to the number of years and dollars committed to him.

Also, the Indians signed Jorge Julio to a minor league deal, inviting him to Spring Training. The only surprising news with this deal (Julio will essentially be given a chance to beat out Nasty Boy Tom Mastny for the 7th spot in the bullpen) is that Jorge Julio is only 28 years old! What, was he saving games in Baltimore as a 13-year-old?

Finally, as a devoted admirer of the exhaustive coverage that Tony Lastoria provides of the Indians’ farm system, here is the link if you’re interested in Tony’s “Top 50” prospect rankings in book form that Tony’s putting together…basically because people (like me) asked him to do it.

Knowing that there is some sort of restriction on calling today’s football game by name and that The DiaBride is attempting to boycott it because she’s “sick of all the Boston and New York sports hype”, I’ll be enjoying a nice, quiet Lazy Sunday curled up with a book…until about 6:17 PM.


Wah00kid said...

As a huge Vladdy fan I love that suggestion! And not that you are forgetting but J-Mike's 2.15 and Jobo's 4 Fultz 1.5. Of course some or perhaps a lot of that money has to go back into buying more bullpen support. Perhaps as well they'll re-up J-Mike but I'll take your 20 and add on another 7.5 which is a lot if you need to buy one 2-4 starter, a back-end bullpen arm (hopefully we can find a closer from within), a corner outfielder of market size value, and pump the rest into arb stuff for Frank the Tank and Perez and such.

Paul Cousineau said...

Total salary coming off the books Blake, Borowski, Byrd, Fultz, Sabathia) after 2008 if C.C. is not re-signed: $30.85M

If the options on Michaels and Jamey Carroll are not picked up, add $5.1M for a grand total of $35.95M.

Outside of the Hefty Lefty, are any of those other names really that irreplaceable?

As an aside, the Indians' only potential FA after 2009 (not taking into account any options), assuming Michaels and Carroll are cut loose after 2008: Dellucci.

Unknown said...

so, how many days after cc signs (with us or as a FA elsewhere) till people start worrying about loosing victor when his contract is up?

that level of staibility is flatly remarkable.

Cy Slapnicka said...

thats exactly what i've thought about. if we don't sign cc, do we extend the stick for a few more years? the heart and soul of our team and heckofa bat...will be 32 when his contract is up, also a primarily plays a position that is hard on the body? hmmmm...

how great is it having "problems" like this?