The Dish: Sticker Shock


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J. D. Drew got $70 million (over five years)? Are we talking about the same J. D. Drew?

The J. D. Drew I know has played more than 110 games in a season four times, and fewer than 110 games in a season four times. The J. D. Drew I know has hit 100 RBI exactly once, this year. He's hit more than 20 HR twice in eight seasons. Hey, maybe those season-composite numbers are tough on Drew, because he rarely finishes a season. But he rarely finishes a season. If Tony LaRussa thought Edgar Renteria would get eaten alive by Boston, what would he say about J. D. “Nancy" Drew?

Let's take a look at the annual salaries of some recent middle-relief free-agent signees in baseball:

Danys Baez: $6.33 million annually, three years
Justin Speier: $4.5 million annually, four years
Jamie Walker: $4 million annually, three years
Mike Stanton: $2.75 million annually, two years

Holy crap. Didn't Mike Stanton's arm fall off two years ago? Isn't Danys Baez, like, bad? Here are some more galling free-agent signings:

Alfonso Soriano: $17 million annually, eight years
Carlos Lee: $16.66 million annually, six years
Jason Schmidt: $15.66 million annually, three years
Vicente Padilla: $11.33 million annually, three years
Gary Matthews Jr. : $10 million annually, five years
Ted Lilly: $10 million annually, four years
Juan Pierre: $8.8 million annually, five years
Moises Alou: $8.5 million annually, one year
Adam Eaton: $8.17 million annually, three years
Bengie Molina: $5.33 million annually, three years
Alex Gonzalez: $4.66 million annually, three years

Eight years for Soriano, taking him up through his age-39 season? That's insane. Six years for Lee, who's also on the senior side of 30 and doesn't do much anymore other than hit homers and eat donuts? Wasn't Schmidt's arm hanging by a thread a couple years back, and hasn't he lost dangerous velocity on his fastball? Padilla, Matthews and Eaton, all former Rangers teammates, are simply inexplicable. Must be the Arlington water. The Phillies do know that Eaton has a career won-loss record of 54-45, a career ERA (mostly in the National League) of 4.40 and a career WHIP of 1.36, right? And Padilla might have fine stuff, but his ERA-plus (which is park adjusted, where 100 is an average score, and the higher the better) has been 96, 96 and 104 the last three years. Matthews parlayed one good year into Fort Knox. Three years for Bengie Molina? $10 million for Ted Friggin’ Lilly?

I don't even want to dream of what Gil Meche will get. Oh, well. Guess there's no collusion this year.

What have you thought of the NFL Network's coverage of regular-season games? Have you been able to find the NFL Network? Does Bryant Gumbel need an earlier wake-up call on days of the games? Do you think the NFL is making a mistake cutting out so many millions of people from being able to watch?

BoDog Bookmakers, BoDog. ws : You need only check the forums on the NFL Network or Google “NFL Network" to see that people aren't totally satisfied with the new coverage or the new play-by-play man. For the moment, we'll ignore the fact that Gumbel recently spent half his day cooking turkey on the Martha Stewart show. We could go on and on about his over-flowing closet of Emmys, his 15 years as the host of the Today Show and his work on CBS and HBO, but play-by-play NFL coverage isn't in the same ballpark as discussing fall fashion tips with Katie Couric. Fans turning off the sound last Thursday to hear Enberg on the radio may be an indication of his success. The buzz so far has been this is a mistake. The NFL may have to consider how big of a mistake this really is. The league obviously wants the Network in as many households as possible, and like any growing network - in cable or broadcast - it's using exclusive game rights as leverage; in other words, playing hardball with football fans.

I recall in this space we decided that the national championship game would definitely include either USC or Michigan. Oops. What's your take on the Florida/Michigan controversy? Do you honestly believe Florida is better than Michigan?

BDB, BoDog. ws : Doug Flutie said it best: Michigan deserved the shot. Their only loss came to Ohio State as visitors by three points! All their other victories, including the win against the then-#2 Notre Dame squad, were decisive. Florida lost to Auburn, and squeaked out a couple of wins against teams like South Carolina and Tennessee. Honestly, I don't believe Florida is better than Michigan; had Michigan had the chance to prove themselves again on the final Saturday of the year, the limelight on Florida's over-hyped win over Arkansas may have faded in time to give them the berth.

Other than the five major bowl games, can you give us two or three other college bowls you think will make particularly excellent viewing and/or wagering?

BDB, BoDog. ws : The Hawaii Bowl should prove exciting to watch, with the #1 offense in the NCAA playing at home. Arizona State may be able to put up some kind of a fight on the spread. After UCLA's big upset over USC, bettors will love the temptation of backing the Bruins against Florida State in the Emerald Bowl. This game opened at -4.5 in favor of UCLA, which could make for a lot of action on the recent spoilers.

What do you think has been the best transaction of the baseball offseason thus far? How about the worst?

BDB, BoDog. ws : That's really yet to be determined with the rumors currently brewing. So far, the best has to be the Cubs signing Soriano to eight years in the Windy City. It cost them, but his numbers speak for themselves. The worst has to be Maddux swindling 10 million off the Padres, unless there's an extended option as a pitching coach; he could start working early. The riskiest thus far is the Red Sox’ charity effort on Matsuzaka.

Christopher Harris is a featured writer for the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at


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