While doing some baseball research on player salaries, I came to realize Cincinnati Reds’ starting pitcher Homer Bailey is making a lot of money. Like a ridiculous amount. Enough where you’d wonder what you missed for him to deserve such a big contract.
On February 19, 2014 the Reds decided Bailey had performed well enough to earn a six-year $105 million contract. At the time, Bailey did have two no-hitters to his name, but he’s not really the type of pitcher you can expect that from on a nightly basis. In fact, at the age of 28, the pitcher he compares most to according to Baseball-Reference is Joe Blanton. Unless you’re in a pie eating contest, any comparison to Blanton is not a good thing.
Bailey’s contract is still light, however, in 2019 he’ll make $23 million. The next year is a mutual option where he can make $25 million. By this point $25 million won’t be all that much for a starting pitcher, especially if Bailey ever lives up to his first round/seventh overall draft status.
Bailey isn’t a complete dud in terms of starting pitchers. He now has three straight seasons of an ERA at 3.71 or lower and if not for an injury in 2014 he would have had his third consecutive season with double-digit wins. Bailey has never received consideration for a Cy Young Award. He also has a career ERA of 4.17 and has never been named to an All-Star team. All of this considered, why did the Reds give him such a big contract?
My guess is that the Reds are very hopeful for Bailey’s future. He’s still only 28-years-old so his prime may not have even been reached. Although he compares most to Blanton at his age, the second player on the list is the much more talented James Shields.
Going on salary averages, Bailey ranks a lot higher than he probably deserves. His contract has him averaging $17.5 million which is equal to Tim Lincecum. At least in Lincecum’s case he once was the pitcher the Reds wish Bailey could be.
When the Detroit Tigers re-signed Victor Martinez this offseason, I was a bit perplexed.
Sure he’s a great player. They probably should have re-signed him under the right circumstances. Those circumstances weren’t so great as they ended up giving him a 4-year deal that will pay $14 million in 2015 and $18 million the following three seasons.
Why is it bad that the Tiger re-signed the 2015 AL MVP runner-up?
First, he’s 36-years-old. Second, that’s pretty old to give anyone a 4-year deal. Third, he tore his meniscus during an offseason workout.
I have my own knee problems. I sympathize with the physical pain Martinez probably felt. The difference is that I can probably get away with elevating my leg and working efficiently. Martinez doesn’t have this benefit since he’s a professional athlete.
Martinez will miss opening day and more importantly more than opening day. There’s a chance April will be absent of his presence on the baseball field completely.
This is worse news considering Miguel Cabrera had multiple surgeries after the 2014 season for bone spurs and other foot problems. He may not even be ready for opening day.
Imagine the Tigers’ lineup with Martinez and Cabera. Suddenly it’s looking like the old Justin Verlander needs to come back and stay.
This is not nearly the first injury in Martinez’s career. He missed the entire 2012 season after tearing an ACL, also during an offseason workout. I’m wondering maybe Martinez needs to stretch a little more or stop ramming his knees into brick walls to get ready for the baseball season.
Just a thought.
Already a bit of a nuisance since he’s primarily a designated hitter, re-signing Martinez may end up haunting the Tigers. They better start finding an exorcist in case there’s more bad news.
The Bridge to Lidge, former Philadelphia Phillies’ setup man and closer Ryan Madson has not thrown a pitch in a big league game since the 2011 season. It was a great year with the Phillies, but his agent Scott Boras did what he usually does and convinced his client he deserved a lot more money. Instead, Madson had to settle for far less money. The decision ultimately cost him his baseball career.
Madson signed a $6 million contract with the Cincinnati Reds that offseason and due to an injury missed the entire 2012 season.
The following season, the Los Angeles Angels had faith in Madson’s return to baseball. They signed him to a one-year deal worth a little over $3 million. Once again, injuries got the better of him and he didn’t play in a single game all season.
Madson’s time with the Phillies was very memorable for me. He was a guy I saw pitch for the Reading Phillies and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons.
When he was with Reading, I asked him for his autograph outside of Waterfront Park in Trenton. Madson smiled and put down his bags. He was more than willing to spend as much team as he needed with the fans. This good attitude continued into the major leagues even when he was with less-friendly company.
One time at Veterans Stadium I was on the prowl after the game trying to get autographs. I spotted Brett Myers the driver’s seat of his car. I politely asked him to sign and without even making eye contact with me through his sunglasses I got a huge “No.” Madson was in the passenger side and slumped all 6’6 of himself down in the seat. I was too far deflated to bother asking him to sign. Plus, he had done so for me several times before and certainly would again. At this time though, nobody could have guessed what a big impact he would have on the Phillies.
The most important season of Madson’s career came in 2008 when he helped the Phillies win the World Series. As the setup man to Brad Lidge, Madson had 17 holds. A statistic that few pay attention to, he also only allowed 35% of his inherited runners score. He may not have been perfect, but without Madson the Phillies may have come up short.
When I learned today that Madson signed a minor league deal with the Kansas City Royals it meant a lot. He was always one of the guys I rooted for most, even if we only spent an inning together each night. I’m skeptical the comeback will result in much, but I wish him the best.
One more successful 8th inning for Madson at the big league level is all I ask.
Free agent infielder Stephen Drew has yet to make much headway in terms of finding a new home in 2015. This is nothing new for him as last year he did not sign until May 21st when the Boston Red Sox decided to bring him back. The deal they inked was worth a little over $10 million, the same amount he apparently expects to make in 2015.
Drew is absolutely kidding himself if he believes his value is $10 million. Unfortunately there’s a good chance someone will get desperate like the Red Sox did last year and give him the money.
In 85 games split between the Red Sox and the New York Yankees, Drew hit only .162 last season. Considering the Red Sox traded him to their bitter enemy, they must have really wanted him out of Boston.
Drew is a lifetime .256 hitter. Not since 2010 has he had a truly productive season. The 2013 season was not bad, but was certainly not worth getting paid $10 million the next.
Likely Drew will hold out too long and find a home due to a spring training or early season injury. The amount hopefully does not meet his need for greed.
The Kansas City Royals enjoyed the playoffs so much last year they decided to do a few things to make sure they go back. Even though they lost Billy Butler to the Oakland Athletics and will probably not re-sign James Shields, the Royals have been very active this offseason.
For the offense, new accessories the Royals now own are outfielder Alex Rios and designated hitter Kendrys Morales. Newcomers to the starting rotation include Kris Medlen and today’s signing which became official, Edinson Volquez.
Volquez is an interesting signing. Only two seasons from his career were positive ones. In 2008 he won 17 games and had a 3.21 ERA. Just last year, Volquez was 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA. In between those two seasons the rule “if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all” applies.
The biggest weakness in Volquez’s game is fairly obvious: he’s wild. Last season he led the league with 15 wild pitches which isn’t even a career high. He also continued to walk way too many batters, although, it was thankfully far less than 2012 when he walked 105 men.
Benefits of Volquez are, well, what he may do. Turning 31-years-old in 2015 with only two good seasons on his resume, the Royals possibly just inked a deal with an absolute bust.
Then again, they may have quickly and more cheaply replaced the wins they lost through Shields. As great as he is, Shields was only 14-8 in 2014 and he had an ERA higher than Volquez. Considering the Royals have a bullpen as talented as they do, Shields’ greatest gift of pitching deep into games may not be so necessary.
There was a time not too long ago when Josh Johnson was one of the most dangerous pitchers in baseball. Injuries, however, caught up to him and suddenly fans of the Miami Marlins began getting flashbacks of Josh Beckett.
Johnson left Florida before the 2013 season as part of the big trade between the Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays. Along with Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, and several others, Johnson headed to the Blue Jays for a very disappointing season as a team and even worse as an individual. Johnson was 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA in his one season with the Blue Jays before becoming a free agent.
The new place Johnson called home for the 2014 season was in San Diego with the Padres. Once again it was the injury bug that bit him as he failed to make a single appearance. Holding no grudge against him, the Padres decided to re-sign Johnson on a one-year deal worth $1 million.
Perhaps Johnson feels like he owes the Padres. Based on his track record, he could have possibly gotten more money elsewhere. This was still no guarantee and likely his decision was the best one he could make for himself.
The deal the Padres signed Johnson to is worth more than the clean-looking $1 million. Johnson will receive a bonus at several check points this season including $500,000 when he reaches five starts and $1 million more when he starts 10 games. This deal makes me believe the Padres are very hesitant about Johnson’s future and rightfully so. Only three of Johnson’s nine seasons on a big league roster have ended with him pitching in 30 games or more, meaning, he gets injured often. He has also only surpassed 200 innings once, doing so in 2009.
In the position the Padres are in, spending money and making every trade possible to get better, Johnson’s contract looks perfect.
It’s not even about him getting injured either. A poor performance could knock him out of the rotation thus leading to the team not having to pay him for his relief duties. Incentive-laden deals like this make sense and are the perfect way to motivate a guy like Johnson on the mend to perform at the top of his game.
If you happen to be one of those people looking for a pay raise, the Houston Astros might be the organization to join as they appear to be ready to spend a little dough. Today they signed free agent infielder Jed Lowrie to a $23 million, three-year contract in one of the least anticipated reunions of the winter.
While everyone in Boston was hoping to win back the heart of Jon Lester, the Astros were easily able to convince Lowrie that there was no better place to be than Houston. Perhaps tickets to next year’s South By Southwest Festival was an added bonus.
Lowrie returns to Houston after spending two seasons with the Oakland Athletics. When he was with the Astros in 2012, things were a lot bleaker than they are now. There was no George Springer or Jon Singleton to watch blossom. The 2012 Astros were so bad, the generally light-hitting Lowrie was second on the team in home runs and he only played in 97 games.
After experiencing a high in Oakland, Lowrie’s trip back to Houston should be a more humble experience. A former first round draft pick by the Boston Red Sox, he has played for teams at every level of the Major League Baseball standings. In the Athletics’ lineup, he often went forgotten. With the Astros though, he’s the veteran presence and a potential leader.
We forget with this big free agent class how the Astros actually have improved this offseason. They signed free agent relief pitchers Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek on the same day, giving them a much improved bullpen. Along with potential MVP-candidate Jose Altuve as the team’s leadoff hitter, Lowrie is coming to the biggest joke in sports when they are no longer that funny. They weren’t even the worst team in the state last season as they managed to win more games than the Texas Rangers.
When Lowrie heads to the Astros’ camp this spring training, he will be the second highest player to only Feldman. As the team continues to rise up the ranks, expect more money to be spent. The Astros are probably not ready yet to smash the piggy bank, but certainly are not afraid to trade all of the quarters they find under the cushion.
A mystery team has placed more than the $5 million bid to talk money with Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang.
Like anyone who grew up doing puzzles or trying to solve the mystery of why mommy and daddy are fighting, I would love to look at the clues and find out before everyone else which Major League Baseball team is currently talking with the shortstop. There’s a new factor to consider, though, and it’s that Kang may end up playing somewhere else on the field due to his poor defense.
Originally I had planned to swiftly knock out any team with an already established shortstop. Now that it’s very likely Kang ends up moving to second base or third base, a lot more teams are in contention.
There’s no team in baseball who would turn down a new player at any of these three infield positions. Off the top of my head only the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles come to mind as franchises already looking comfortable in these three spots. At the same time I would still never rule out the Dodgers trading third baseman Juan Uribe or the Red Sox deciding Xander Bogaerts is not the guy for them at shortstop. Going into the 2015 season though, these are two organizations I would advise not to take a risk on Kang since he may have an adjustment period.
Right now the best option I see for Kang is going to a bad team like the New York Mets or Philadelphia Phillies. It’s good for the teams because both are in big markets and shouldn’t shy away from any move available. For Kang, he at least knows they won’t rollover like a smaller market team.
The San Francisco Giants could also use some help on the infield. The defending champions aren’t going to be able to get by with Madison Bumgarner pitching 3 out of every 7 games to make up for their lack of a strong offense.
We now have less than 30 days before Kang either signs or stays in Korea.
Philadelphia Phillies’ General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. had some harsh words regarding first baseman Ryan Howard, the same guy he decided was worth $20 million a year. It appears hindsight might be getting the best of Amaro Jr. in what could be his last season in a position of power.
“I told him that in our situation it would probably bode better for the organization not with him but without him,” Amaro said Friday in an interview with 97.5 The Fanatic, via NJ.com. “With that said, if he’s with us, then we’ll work around him. We’ll hope he puts up the kind of numbers that we hope he can and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
In the history of break-ups, this is pretty nasty. Even Jeffrey Dahmer invited his victims over for a drink.
This honesty from Amaro Jr., although refreshing, is too little too late. Had he been this way since the beginning it may not seem so harsh. Instead, since he always seems like a generally nice guy, opinions on him may sour even further than they already have.
At least Amaro Jr. is saying what the rest of us are thinking.