I recently received an e-mail from a friend regarding the salary/contract demands of Johan Santana where he wrote: “I’m still waiting for one person to point to a contract that has ever worked out for a pitcher at those terms. Mike Hampton, Kevin Brown, Barry Zito…all busts for the money.”
This did get me thinking about recent “attractive” pitchers who switched teams as free agents or via a trade because of their salary demands.
It seems that, for every Wilson Alvarez there’s a Greg Maddux. For every Mike Hampton there’s a Pedro Martinez. For every Kevin Brown there’s a Randy Johnson. For every Frank Viola there’s a Mike Mussina. For every Bret Saberhagen there’s a Curt Schilling. For every Bartolo Colon, there’s a David Cone. For Barry Zito there’s Nolan Ryan. For Andy Messersmith there’s Tim Hudson.
Can it be that we just remember the busts more because they were duds?
I’m not saying here that Johan Santana will not end up like a Hampton, Colon or Zito. But, can anyone, for sure, say that he won’t end up like Mike Mussina did when he signed with the Yankees?
In 2000, Mussina signed a six-year, $88.5 million deal with the Yankees. Is $14.5 million a year in 2001 that much different than $20 million a year in 2008? Yes, it’s more. But, when you factor in the inflation of baseball contracts over the last seven years, is it that much more?
Think of it this way, the difference between $14.5 million in 2001 and $20 million in 2008 is an increase of $786,000 per year for the seven years. That seems like somewhat normal baseball star salary inflation, no?
So, if you’re dead set against Santana because of the money alone – as I once was – were you as upset when the Yankees signed Mussina in 2000? If I recall correctly, I was not upset with the Mussina deal back then. Therefore, I really have no right to be upset with the Santana money now.
However, Moose was a true free agent. The Yankees only gave up a draft pick with the money – not actual players, as would be the case with Santana.
If someone wants to debate whether it’s worth the money and the players to get Santana, I would respect their right to say it might be too steep a cost – because, there, it may just be the correct stance to take on this one.