When it comes to bad contracts, Jays' Ricciardi is hard to beat
I don't want this to sound rude ... but I have never understood Toronto Blue Jays general manager
And no, this isn't about the incredibly dumb things Ricciardi says, like the time he basically called
No. Forget all that. Here's my thing about J.P. Ricciardi, the thing that really baffles the heck out of me: How can someone keep giving out contracts THIS BAD and keep his job and reputation? I'm serious. How?
Obviously, you can start with the
I don't know if the White Sox will get much for their money. They might get something ... Rios, in that hitters' ballpark and a new environment, might be revitalized and might have some good years. I wouldn't bet on it, but it could happen and, again, some of the people I trust around the game say it will happen. But no matter what happens, that contract was so bad that the Blue Jays needed a bailout. If that was the only time it happened to Ricciardi, OK, everyone is entitled to a mistake. And you could see how the Blue Jays made this mistake: Rios was developed in the Blue Jays organization and put up a couple of pretty good years.
Trouble is, this is a frightening pattern for Ricciardi -- B.J. Ryan.
1. To qualify, the contract has to still be going for at least one more year ... and it has to be for more than $10 million per year on the remainder. So, that would rule out, say, the bizarrely awful
2. I try to take injuries into account when judging the contract. True, the Dodgers signing of
3. I want to judge the contract based on the entire thing. What I mean is ... the Red Sox owe $12.5 million more to
And so a few contract thoughts, then the list ...
Except this: Every time I look up either one of their numbers, I'm shocked at how unimpressive they are. Roberts has a career 103 OPS+. Young has a career 105 OPS+. Roberts will turn 32 in October, Young 33, so you would expect that both will very soon enter the decline phase of their careers. Maybe I'm wrong -- I hope I'm wrong because they both seem like likable guys you would root for -- but it seems to me that one or both of these contracts will be an albatross before the day is done.
BUT ... they gave him the contract in the middle of the 2007 season, when he turned 30, when his numbers had already started to take a precipitous fall, when he had not shown an ability to stay healthy (he had never even played 150 games in a season when they gave him the deal). PLUS, he's a big, slow guy who literally cannot play a single defensive position ... he has not put on a glove for a big league game since 2007. Hafner has shown a little spark of offensive life this year, but he has so many injury problems, and he's 32, and this contract surely will only look worse as time goes on.
One funny part of this, though, is that I don't think the Angels have a lot of buyer's remorse here. They are a weird team, the Angels. They just chug along, year after year. They pretty wildly overpay for a player now and again. They give players odd roles. They do odd things that make you wonder what the heck is going on over there. But they make the playoffs almost every year, and they seem to deal pretty well with whatever mistakes they make. Matthews plays quite a lot, and he has a 69 OPS+, but the Angels continue to score runs like crazy. It's just weird over there.
Funny, I kind of thought that in many ways Soriano was underrated when the Cubs signed him... because a lot of people seemed to be talking about all the things he couldn't do (he didn't walk, he struck out a ton, he was moody and didn't want to change positions) and were kind of missing some of the obvious things he COULD do, such as the fact that he had a 40-40 season (and was one homer away from a SECOND 40-40 season) and was showing improvement even in those troubled areas (he walked a career-high 67 times in Washington and moved to left field).
Still ... eight-year deal. Damn. You'd better be SURE before you give someone an eight-year deal, especially a guy two months away from his 31st birthday. Check that: There's no way you could be THAT sure about a player about to turn 31. Soriano still has some value, but you've got to think that deal will only look worse from here on.
I have absolutely no idea what the heck the Mariners could have been thinking when they gave Silva that money. The previous two years, he was 24-29 with a 5.01 ERA. He never could strike out anyone. He was turning 29, which ain't exactly young. Of course he went 4-15 with a 6.46 ERA last year with the Mariners. Of course he was dreadful this year and then got hurt. Of course. This is the sort of signing that makes me wish, just once, I could be in on one of these meetings, just so I could HEAR what these people are saying when they make these moves.
But more than anything: Guillen was almost 32 when the Royals signed him to a three-year, $36 million deal ... and he's precisely the sort of player who starts going wildly downhill at that age. And ... so he has. Guillen led the team in RBIs in 2008 despite having a pretty bad year. This year he has been perhaps the worst everyday player in baseball. His power is gone -- .371 slugging percentage -- he can't play the outfield any more and his quick bat (the one thing he always had) has slowed measurably. Funny thing is, I have found him to be quite a likable guy, and he has been brutally honest in his own self-assessment. "If I suck then I suck," he says. "And I suck." Probably not worth $36 million, but entertaining still.
In 2011 Vernon Wells will get paid $23 million. No. Really. He will get paid $23 million.
In 2012 he will have to take a paycut and will only get $21 million. Same in 2013. And same again in 2014.
This isn't a baseball contract. This is a testament to the power of mankind to do the impossible.
Oh, Vernon Wells also has a full no-trade clause in his contract. Well, sure, why not? Then, what difference would it make? This is the most untradable contract in the history of the world. Vernon Wells turns 31 this year. The Dewan has him a minus-29 center fielder, which means he's exactly as bad defensively as you can be while a manager who is still breathing allows you to play centerfield. He has an 85 OPS+. He has a lifetime .329 on-base percentage. He's slugging .408. He IS third in the American League in making outs. So he has that going for him.
And it never made sense. Ever. Wells had a very good year in 2003 (and he was a very good fielder then), a couple of OK years, a good year in 2006 at age 27. But he never got on base much, and he was inconsistent, and ... then the Blue Jays gave him this hysterical contract: seven years, $126 million.
This deal, to be honest, is not the sort of thing that leads to a general manager getting fired. It's the sort of thing that leads to entire villages getting pillaged. And that's what I mean about Ricciardi. I mean, this contract alone should be enough to put him in the Bad Contract Hall of Fame. But when you look over the whole body of work ... he IS the Bad Contract Hall of Fame.
In fact, really, we should just start referring to bad baseball contracts as "Ricciardis."