Sunday, May 18, 2008

Finally, Backlash Against Long-Terming Youngsters

Fausto Carmona, Evan Longoria, Scott Kazmir, Ryan Braun, Hanley seems all the good young players are getting locked up long-term, and almost entirely by small- and mid-market teams. Such foresight has caused some jealousy among Dodgers fans who feel many of the team's youngsters qualify for such treatment. But the LA Times' Bill "What" Shaikin argues that "Dodgers, Angels can afford to wait on signing players":

Everyone loves a bargain, the Dodgers and Angels included. But, by signing the Russell Martins and Casey Kotchmans to long-term contracts so early in their careers, the local teams would risk squandering the significant financial advantage they enjoy over their rivals in Milwaukee, Miami, Denver, Phoenix and St. Petersburg, Fla.

"You have a lot of advantages when you're a bigger-revenue club," said Mark Attanasio, the Brewers' owner. "You can afford to wait."


But the Angels and Dodgers can pay market rate, and they're better off paying year by year, minimizing the risk and saving the biggest bucks for free agents, or soon-to-be free agents.

The Angels signed Gary Matthews Jr. to play center field for $50 million, then signed Torii Hunter to play there one year later, for another $90 million.

The Dodgers signed Juan Pierre to play center field for $44 million, then signed Andruw Jones to play there one year later, for another $36 million. Not the wisest investment, perhaps, but no other team in the National League West can play in that financial league.

Ned Colletti, the Dodgers' general manager, said he had approached Martin about a long-term contract twice. Colletti said Martin and his agent passed both times, with discussions never proceeding to dollars. Martin and his agent, Bob Garber, each declined to comment.

James Loney, the Dodgers' first baseman, said he would be happy to consider such a contract.

"The guaranteed thing is not a bad option," he said. "An injury could happen. I think it's a great idea."

Tony Reagins, the Angels' general manager, said he had not offered any such contracts but would consider them. Howie Kendrick, the Angels' second baseman, said he would sign one.

"Every player wants security, young or old," he said. "This is a great place to play. If that means taking a discount to play here, any guy would do that."

Kotchman, the first baseman, might not.

"If these players play and perform the way their organizations think they'll perform, they're leaving a whole heck of a lot on the table," he said. "I'm happy going year to year.

"My parents' jobs aren't even guaranteed year to year. You get fired, and you get two weeks. It's pretty cool to even be guaranteed one year. Year to year, that's not a bad thing."

For the Dodgers and Angels, it's the smart thing.

Shaikin weakens his argument by citing Matthews, Pierre and Jones as successful alternatives to investing in future potential. However, the most interesting part of this article is Colletti's twice approaching Martin about an extension. Those are efforts every Dodgers fan can approve of. And James Loney is open to the idea—as long as the team doesn't use the savings to sign some over-the-hill veteran to take his place.