Reports are circulating that All-Star Robinson Cano is about to sign a $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners. If so, this could be the worst deal ever. While it was doubtful that Cano would have gotten the $300 million he wanted from any team, he should have been able to get in the $225 million neighborhood from an East Coast team. Yes, $225 is less than $240- but on the East coast, you automatically land in a larger media market and that opens up the door for easily another $75 million in sponsorship deals. (Honestly, over ten years the number should be much higher, assuming Cano’s production doesn’t change.) There aren’t any huge sponsorship deals coming to a guy in Seattle. I mean think how many times you saw Ichiro on the National stage during his time there.
And for the Mariners part, this deal is even worse. This was the Mariners opening day batting order in 2013.
Gutierrez, - CF
Saunders, - RF
Morales, - DH
Morse, - LF
Smoak, - 1B
Montero, J - C
Ackley, - 2B
Ryan, - SS
OK- so you add Robinson Cano in there it gets better, but why would anyone pitch to Cano in that line-up? Is Kendry Morales going to add protection to Cano? Justin Smoak? I don’t think so- so Cano will get walked a ton, but not hit anything. How will that look on his stat line? Oh right, it doesn’t matter to him because he has a 10-year contract.
The Texas Rangers already showed us that having one superstar in a line-up doesn’t work. General Manager Jack Zduriencik has been rumored to be in the hot seat in Seattle. He has had the job for 6 years now, and never had a winning season. That should be more than enough time to rebuild a team. And while the Mariners do have talent, they definitely needed that piece that would help the team coalesce. In my mind though, that is a Jason Giambi or a Justin Morneau. It is someone who has competed at a high level for a long time, and is ready to help others grow and take the spotlight. It isn’t bringing in someone that wants to be the biggest dog in the room.
I have often written that sometimes a team has to overspend to bring in a guy that may change the culture. I think of the Mets signing Pedro Martinez to a 4-year deal when no one else would give him more than 2, just so they could show the world they were serious about winning. Yes, the Mariners needed some of that. But committing to a guy for 10 years, on this scale of money isn’t showing fans or even other free agents that the culture in Seattle is changing, and that they are ready to do what is necessary to win. It is about just being splashy, and grabbing some headlines. Its a way for Jack Z to fell like a player in the GM game. It doesn’t look smart. It looks like he is trying to do something to save his job. And three years from now, the new GM of the Mariners will be stuck with a huge contract on a guy who doesn’t have the focus to be the leader of the team.
Neither side is winning on this one. Forget Mike Hampton and Barry Zito- this will go down as the worst deal ever.
I have been teaching Public Relations at Ithaca College this semester. It has been a tremendous experience, because even though you hear a lot about this generation being quite entitled, I have found the students who come into my class each day to be some of the most engaged I have ever taught. Is that true every day? Nope. But then who of us is engaged every day.
On Monday, in my Ithaca college email, a notice came in about a car accident involving four students, returning from Thanksgiving break who had swerved to miss a deer. The driver was killed. The other three were in various stages of being treated. One of those students was mine.
The last 6 months spent in Ithaca have been wonderful for me, and teaching a subject that I care about has been energizing and inspiring. I have gone to college football games. I have seen students outside class succeed in some very cool ways. So when the memorial student was scheduled for the student that had passed I knew I wanted to go. To show my respects to a young life, to acknowledge how close it could have been for the one student I knew, but also to pay respects to the Ithaca College community.
What I learned about Michael, a 20-year-old English major was amazing. I have been to plenty of services where I hadn’t met the departed, just someone close that I wanted to support. This service was unlike any other. Held in the Quaker tradition, where those who are moved to speak my rise and share their thoughts, both students and faculty stepped to the front of the neo-60s chapel. The first student to speak, an obviously distraught young woman immediately spoke of a memory of sitting on the living room floor where Michael was trying to explain that ‘baseball was a narrative…” Immediately, of course, I felt the connection to him. She went on to say that this young man could speak about the most boring things and make them interesting and accessible. Faculty got up and spoke about how he always shared something insightful in all his class discussions, and students remarked on how he rarely came to class with a notebook- much like the classic slacker- yet his mind was so insightful he was always able to raise the discussion. Students looked to him to fill the silences in classes, and he did, not with fluff but with insight that helped others understand it better. His poetry professor spoke of how Michael came to see him, to tell him he wanted to write about a Dylan Thomas poem for his paper. The professor asked if he felt comfortable with the piece, and Michael nodded and then recited the piece from heart. He had found it in high school and had been drawn to it.
Michael loved Shakespeare, and was going to London on the school’s study abroad program to study about him near the birthplace. He apparently could recite long stretches of the Bard, and did so often. One young lady who he walked home after a play recalled how she left wanting to know more about him. Another young woman talked about how she had promised to buy him a beer when he was 21- a day that will never come. He was on the debate team, but admired the opponents argument too much to ever really be good at debate. He led friends in games of D&D keeping all focused on the narrative. They all spoke of his voice- how it sounded and how he used it.
As I write this, I hope, you see that I didn’t know him, but I learned a lot about him from those that did. Just as he had clarified poetry passages for them, he also taught them how to see what was before them. It is cliche to say that Michael lives on in each of them, but from what I heard yesterday it truly does. The group of friends and faculty who spoke had only a short time to know this young man, and yet they painted a picture that was a clear as the most perfect sonnet. Each of these young people is remarkable. Some find it early, some find it later. Michael may have helped lead many to it.
Rest in peace, young Michael.
Dick Monfort, owner, along with his brother Charlie, of the Colorado Rockies discussed his payroll and the reasoning behind it with Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. Monfort explains the he expects to pay half of his budget to player salaries, and despite a windfall of monies coming in from the new MLB national television contract next season, the Rockies payroll will not rise significantly.
Payroll doesn’t always equate to winning, and that is one thing the article fails to acknowledge. While fans unhappy with a last place division finish certainly can point to the teams opening day salary as being in the bottom third of baseball, it should also note that as of opening day last year, the Padres salary was lower.
Monfort’s openness about his payroll came after outrage over the team deciding to open a party deck in the upper deck’s right field. Fans couldn’t understand why that money wasn’t being spent on salary. But the reality is some of the money for that is coming from the city- or stadium authority- and can only be used on the stadium. Also, perhaps the long-term effect of finding ways to more effectively use the stadium to create more revenue does help the payroll in the long term. If Monfort spend half of the budget on player salaries, raising the revenue used to determine that budget certainly help raise that percentage.
The other interesting tidbit from the piece is that the Rockies expect to be in the playoffs 2 out of every 5 years. That seems like a low goal, since it has now been 3 years since they made a playoff appearance, and it doesn’t seem that they are close to returning. Compare that with the Yankees who expect to make the playoffs every year. Two different ownerships. Two different styles.
This Derrick Goold piece tells the story of a long-time Cardinals scout who has just beaten cancer. The piece though is less about his fight with cancer, and more about how he had helped the organization by scouting and mentoring other scouts. You get a really nice and realistic look into what that life is like. A must read.
The correct answer to today’s question will get you a copy of Few and Chosen Yankees: Defining Yankee Greatness Across the Eras, a beautiful coffee table book about some special Yankee greats, written by Whitey Ford. This could be a great Christmas gift for someone.
To win this book, simply be the first to answer the question correctly in the comment area below, and tell me one thing you are thankful for today. (This is something I should do every Tuesday, don’t you think?)
Today’s Question: What baseball owner was suspended from baseball for two years on this date after being convicted of making illegal campaign contributions to the Richard Nixon campaign?