Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Yes, another baseball-related rant. It's almost out of my system, trust me...

Take Me Out to the WULAD
Ah, the New York sports media. It’s like a fresh breeze out of a steaming sewer on a hot summer's day. By now, everyone’s aware that Vladimir Guerrero spurned the Mets’ offer that, with health incentives, would’ve been worth more than the guaranteed offer he accepted from the Angels. Let’s revisit what the WULAD Sports Desk had to say about the matter a few short days ago:

As far as I’m concerned it’s a bunch of evil propaganda designed to falsely elevate the hopes of Mets fans before bringing them crashing to the ground, and turn what could be considered a fairly productive offseason into one which could be viewed by the fervently Yankee-biased New York sports media as a spectacular failure.
And here we are. Mike and the Mad Dog spent yesterday drilling new A-holes into Mets GM Jim Duquette, and I find their arguments perplexing. Among them:

It would’ve been better not to pursue Guerrero at all than to pursue him and lose out. OK, maybe this is correct from a PR standpoint, since this allows the fatalistic fans and writers to hold up another example (in the tradition of Alex Rodriguez, Mike Mussina, Lou Piniella, etc.) of the Mets coming in second place because they failed to go the extra mile contract-wise. But Duquette never held out much hope to the fans of signing Guerrero since they had no intention of guaranteeing more than three years to a player who they considered a significant medical risk, in spite of how it might make them look short-term.

Well, if he’s a risk, why did you offer him $30 million? If these guys can’t see the difference to the long-term financial health of the franchise between a three-year, $30 million incentive-based deal gone bad and a five-year, $70 million guaranteed deal gone bad, I don’t know what to tell them. See the Texas Rangers or the Mets teams of the past few years for examples of what huge guaranteed contracts can do to flexibility. I know, Guerrero is more A-Rod than Mo Vaughn, but to imply that there’s no difference between a moderate three-year risk and a heavy five-year risk is absurd.

If the performance incentives would’ve been easy to meet, why didn’t you just guarantee him the years and the money? The incentives would be easy to meet if he stays healthy, numbnuts! If his back gets worse—and the Mets obviously feared it might—they’re screwed. And no one would insure five years in advance.

The Mets offseason can now be considered a total loss. This has got to be the dumbest part of all. Baseball people everywhere consider the additions of Cameron, Matsui, and Looper as definite steps in turning around a wayward team philosophy toward younger, faster, cheaper, giving up fewer draft picks, etc. A month ago, when the Mets were not even considering going after Vlad, no one was talking gloom and doom. This was supposed to be a rebuilding process! But what the media seems to be ignoring is the fact that Vlad was never coming to New York.

Why didn’t the Yankees, absolute kings of getting anything and everything they want, go after Guerrero? Why deal with the headache of Gary Sheffield’s personality for an inferior player when Vlad was available? Because they knew that any offer from the New York teams would only be used as leverage to get a better offer from a team that Guerrero was actually willing to play for. He liked Montreal, for Chrissake! Arn Tellem came to the Mets and asked them for an offer, assuring them that the idea that Vlad didn’t want to play in New York was only a rumor—and Chris and Mike will say that, well, the Mets never made him a substantial (read: guaranteed) offer so we’ll never know—but does anybody really think that Tellem would’ve come calling if there had been anything like the market he expected going into the offseason? Playing in New York was so appealing to Guerrero that he waited to express an interest until the absolute last minute, when Baltimore was the only other team that wanted to take on his financial weight and potential medical risk. And lo and behold, after the Mets made their offer, out comes the new owner of the Angels, looking to make a splash, and does Tellem give the Mets, who figured so prominently in Vlad’s night-before-the-prom date-hunting, a chance to respond to the Angels’ offer? Of course not. Because Vlad did not want to play in New York if at all possible. And see Robbie Alomar as a good example of a player who’s supposedly guaranteed to perform well even in a setting that is uncomfortable to him.

Maybe with a gargantuan contract, the Mets could’ve gotten it done—and I realize that Guerrero is currently one of the best players in the game—but personally I’m glad they didn’t hang themselves out to dry on this one deal. Check with me again in five years, which is the only time we’ll really know who was right on this one.

And speaking of the sweet words of the New York sports media—Roger Clemens goes from beloved hero to cop-killing-traitor in three months. See you on Old Timers' Day up at Yankee Stadium, Roger! Watch those flying tomatoes and batteries!

"Banned CD" presents Spam Subject of the Day: Re: KWXK, the cat raised

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