Archive for November 18th, 2010

General Managers Never Learn

November 18th, 2010 by Johnny G | Comments Off on General Managers Never Learn | Filed in General

Through out the last several years General Managers in general around the Major Leagues seemed to be making strides towards properly managing their team’s payrolls, avoiding long term deals for aging veterans, and putting proper emphasis on the “valuable” skills each player presents. From what I have seen this off-season thus far, we are basically back to the overblown spending of the 90’s.

So far in this brief off-season we’ve seen the Detroit Tigers commit to a multi-deal with Johnny Peralta, the Marlins trade Cameron Maybin for two bullpen arms, along with trading Dan Uggla for a utility player and a throw in left-handed reliever, and to cap off their series of moves, they sign John Buck to a 3 year $18 million deal. The Phillies signed Jose Contreras to a multi-year deal and the Detroit Tigers commit themselves to a 3 year $16.5 million deal with Joaquin Benoit.

To get the full effect of these moves, we’re going to have to go through them one by one and we’ll save the Marlins’ trifecta for last. We’ll start in Detroit with perhaps the best of the deals mentioned above. Johnny Peralta is a poor defensive shortstop who has taken definite strides backwards since his career year in 2005. Last year he hit just .249 with 15 home runs and a .311 OBP and at 29 years old, it doesn’t appear there is any improvements left to be made. Peralta is fine for a young team looking to fill a hole at shortstop for a season but giving him a multi-year deal is really a questionable decision by Dave Dombroski in Detroit. Although the deal is only worth $11.25 million, it’s the flexibility that is mainly the issue here.

Ruben Amaro, General Manager of our very own Phillies, has made another mistake early in free-agency that he seems to repeat on a yearly basis. Rube has a tendency to “set the market”, instead of letting the market play out and pouncing on a bargain. Jose Contreras did a fine job in his role last year out of the bullpen and showed no signs of slowing down towards the end of the year but to give a 39 year old Cuban defector a multi-year deal to simply pitch the 7th inning for you? That is really a misuse of funds. I bring up the fact that he is from Cuba simply due to the fact that no one can be sure exactly how old Contreras is. I don’t think anyone would be too surprised to find out Contreras is really 42 years old and defected here with a fake birth certificate much like Miguel Tejada and others. Every year bullpen gems are taken off the scrap heap for pro-rated league minimum salaries just like the Rays got in Benoit last season (we’ll get to him later). The frustrating part about this situation is that, Ruben has done this in the past and its currently making his job a lot more difficult. He gives away free years on contracts to aging veterans like its Halloween Candy. How many years did he give to Jamie Moyer at 46 years old? Raul Ibanez at 36? Polanco at 34? I’ve said it repeatedly but that is how you ruin the future of a professional organization. Just like the Ibanez deal, the Polanco signing looks ok on the surface right now because he did his job this season, but if Polanco struggles, you’re stuck with another anchor for two more years at the hot corner. Learn from your mistakes, Ruben.

Perhaps the most shocking deal was the Tigers committing 3 years and over $16 million to an injury prone bullpen arm in Joaquin Benoit. With their closer role already filled by Jose Valverde, the Tigers were looking for a lock down set up man and they certainly may have found him. But at what price? This contract would be too excessive even if you had plans to make Benoit your closer, which the Tigers do not. Over the last three years Benoit has thrown 60 innings, 0 innings, and 45 innings. What are the chances of Benoit fulfilling a $16 million contract over three years when he has thrown a combined 105 innings over the last three seasons? I’ll give you a hint: Not very good. With all the roster issues this Tigers team faces and the lack of depth surrounding Miguel Cabrera, you have to assume this money could have been spent on other more essential needs. This one is a real head-scratcher.