The Sports Daily > WSU Football Blog
Free Agency – NOT the answer in MLB!

So, with our M’s limping hopelessly and listlessly and rumors fly of a managerial change, you have to start to wonder – how the hell do you build a winner? Is it luck? Is it timing? Or are some teams just better, top to bottom, in regards to scouting, front office, etc??

It’s interesting to look around and see the different approaches, and how they work (or don’t work). Cleveland and Detroit tore it all down and started over, now they have contenders. The Red Sox and Yanks throw millions around like it’s play money, yet between them, they’ve won one single World Series in the last 5 years, so it’s not like free agency is the guarantee.

I look at the M’s, and I see what seems on paper at least to be a wise strategy. Sign a few big-ticket free agents who you hope are your superstar players (Ichiro, Sexson and Beltre), develop some good young players who you control for many years (Lopez, Betancourt, Putz, Reed) and then hope to round the roster out with mid-level guys who you cross your fingers that they will have career years. But obviously, the last couple of years, the approach is failing on a huge level.

Some people bitch the M’s won’t spend money, well, their payroll shows otherwise ($95 million). But is throwing money at free agents really the answer? Check it out:

Is Randy Johnson pitching well for NYY? How did Kevin Brown and Javy Vazquez do with huge contracts in NY?

Matt Clement has pitched about as well Gil Meche the past two years for Boston.

Keith Foulke is making more than 7 million a year to basically suck and couldn’t keep a closer job to a rookie in Papelbon.

Steve Finley was signed to a huge deal last year, but was terrible for LAA, so bad that they dealt him for Edgardo Alfonzo who’s done nothing for them but ask for a trade. That’s it.

Jeff Weaver at 8 mil? The guy couldn’t get anyone out pitching in a pitcher’s league – NL – in a great pitcher’s park – Dodger Stadium – last year. Hmm, no wonder he’s now awful in Anaheim!

Speaking of Anaheim, Darin Erstad has been making 8 mil a year to be, well, a pretty lousy hitting first baseman/outfielder for the past three years. He’s living off his 220+ hit season a few years ago. $32 MILLION is still due to him as well. Orlando Cabrera is worth 8 mil? I don’t think so. Not close. Wouldn’t you rather have Betancourt at 1/10th of that price right about now?? Me too!

People gush about Billy Beane and his ability to contend with a nothing payroll, but how about Jason Kendall, whom the A’s will pay him 19 mil over the next two years.
Kendall is an awful hitter, awful. He can’t throw anyone out and he has never been good at blocking balls in the dirt. He’s Dan Wilson, circa 2004-2005, with four times the contract. AND $19 MILLION is still due over the next 2 years! Think about that. Oh, and Loaiza sure isn’t working out for Oakland. No command, no velocity, no nothing but a “dead arm”.

How about JD Drew for the Dodgers? They threw stupid money at him after losing Beltre, and all he’s done is exactly what everyone said he would. Get injured and spend about 50% of his time on the DL.

How do you think the Rockies feel about Mike Hampton’s contract?? It’s been traded 3 times yet they still are making payments on that huge msitake. The M’s, by the way, are STILL PAYING ON JEFF CIRILLO in 2006! Can you believe that?? Actually they are in the last year of paying Kevin Jarvis, but it’s Cirillo money, $7.5 million. Thank you Pat Gillick.

Anyway, all those listed above? Failures on a huge scale. All teams that spend money in any capacity have this problem. So before I cry “poor M’s” and “FIRE BAVASI!” it’s wise to see that the M’s aren’t alone with free agency not working out!

Free agency might be sexy during the hot stove league, but it’s almost staggering to see how many deals have flat-out exploded in GM’s faces over the years!

That said, I’m ready for a change on the field. I don’t think they would be able to get a match in the marketplace right now on Beltre, but they might have even more trouble trying to move Sexson and his age, contract and injury history. At least Beltre has been an MVP candidate at a very young age and is still only what, 27? Sexson is scaring a lot of people right now, me included, because he’s nearing that age – 34 – where power hitters can really start to fall off a cliff. We might be seeing his downfall before our eyes, and this isn’t just a slump.