Thoughts on Yanks-Sox: Slide Jorge!

Leave a comment



090806_posada_collision.jpgSome thoughts from the Yankees-Red Sox game Thursday night:

— The game was nearly four hours long, coming in at 3:52. About an hour of it was interesting. Basically, the Chamberlain-Smoltz matchup/disaster, plus the Pedroia plunking in the 8th. (You think Josh Beckett will have something to say about that on Friday?)

— The game was so long, I was hearing calls for umpire Derryl Cousins to widen his strike zone to actually encompass the entire plate. With a strike zone like that, even Yuniesky Betancourt could have drawn a walk.

— *The game was so long, John Smoltz had surgery, underwent rehab and returned to watch the final three innings.

*This is not true, but might be something to consider.

— Speaking of Smoltz, it may be time to pull the plug, and he knows it. “I’m not doing it right now. I’m a big enough man to stand up here and say I’m not doing it. Time may not be on my side if this continues. I’ve been here before, but not like this.”

— I know Jorge Posada was one of the heroes and all (3-for-5, one mammoth 3-run homer), but how could he not slide on that play at the plate in the second inning? He was tagged out easily while sort of gently bumping Victor Martinez. If you remember, Posada was the guy who helped create the Derek Jeter legend by tagging out a non-sliding Jeremy Giambi in the 2001 playoffs. Talk about not learning from history.

— Not sure if he was praising the Yankees, ripping Yankee Stadium, or a little bit of both, but Terry Francona said: “That’s an unforgiving lineup in an unforgiving ballpark.”

— In going 0-for-5, David Ortiz played as if Saturday’s press conference is weighing on his mind.

— Lost in the shuffle: Casey Kotchman hit a two-run home run in his first start for Boston, and Kevin Youkilis played passably well in left field.

— If you Twitter, you can often find me there at @bharks.

Eric Hosmer’s eight-year, $144 million contract isn’t that bad

Ed Zurga/Getty Images
9 Comments

Late Saturday night, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the Padres and first baseman Eric Hosmer agreed to an eight-year, $144 million contract, the new largest contract in club history. According to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, the contract includes an opt-out after the fifth year. Further, Hosmer will average $21 million per year for those first five years and $13 million for the final three years, so it’s severely front-loaded.

Hosmer, 28, had a career year last season, playing in all 162 games while batting .318/.385/.498 with 25 home runs, 94 RBI, and 98 runs scored in 671 plate appearances. Per Baseball Reference, Hosmer accrued 4.0 Wins Above Replacement, only one of six first basemen to do so. At No. 6, he was 0.4 WAR behind Anthony Rizzo and 0.4 WAR ahead of Logan Morrison.

Wil Myers had previously told the Padres he would accept a position change if the club were to sign Hosmer. He will be moving to the outfield as a result. The Padres now have a logjam in the outfield, so Jose Pirela could move moved to the infield. How the Padres plan to handle that situation remains to be seen.

The general consensus about the Hosmer signing once news broke was that it is laughably bad. Back in November, Dave Cameron — ironically now in the Padres’ front office — called Hosmer a “free agent landmine.” That thought hasn’t really changed among many writers. For example, using restraint, Dennis Lin of The Athletic calls the deal “a big gamble.” MLB Network’s Brian Kenny said Hosmer has at least three “red flags.”

FanGraphs projects the Padres to finish 71-91, so adding Hosmer isn’t likely to transform the club into a contender on his own. That being said, the Padres’ payroll was only at $70 million prior to the Hosmer signing, so the contract won’t hamstring them going forward. If the young nucleus of players — including Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe — perform as expected, the Padres could be a threat in the NL West relatively soon with plenty of cheap, cost-controlled players and having some experienced veterans like Hosmer and Myers could be useful for their intangibles — pennant race/playoff experience, clubhouse presence, leadership, etc.

Hosmer has had three seasons of 3.5 WAR or more, according to Baseball Reference. He’s had four between -0.5 and 1.0. Now entering his age-28 season, it’s hardly a guarantee he’ll be an All-Star-caliber player in 2018, let alone in 2022 when he is 32 years old. From a strict dollars-to-WAR standpoint in a complete vacuum, one could’ve done better than Hosmer at eight years, $144 million.

The Padres, however, aren’t a small market team; they just operate like one. Forbes valued the club at $1.125 billion last April. The Padres don’t have the financial muscle of the Dodgers or Yankees, but paying Eric Hosmer $18 million on average for the first five years of his contract won’t come close to hurting the organization in any way, shape, or form. More importantly, signing Hosmer shows the rest of the team and the fans a commitment to being legitimate, bumping the payroll up towards $90 million. That now dwarfs teams like the large-market Phillies, who opened up spring training with just over $60 million in player obligations.

In the grand scheme of things, the Hosmer signing is also a good sign given the standstill in the free agent market. Many veteran players — even reliever Fernando Abad, who posted a 3.30 ERA last season — had to settle for minor league contracts instead of guaranteed major league deals. Many others, including the likes of Jake Arrieta and J.D. Martinez, remain unsigned. The rumor that Hosmer wanted more than seven years and close to $150 million was laughed at last month. Agent Scott Boras was still able to get his client the deal he wanted, which could bode well for those still teamless. Martinez’s patience may yet be rewarded like Hosmer’s was; money may once again start flowing in the free agent economy.

In summation, the Eric Hosmer contract is good if: you are Eric Hosmer, related to or a friend of Eric Hosmer, a teammate of Hosmer’s, Scott Boras, a current or soon-to-be free agent, a Padres fan, and a baseball fan in general. The Hosmer contract is bad if: you are a penny-pinching owner of a Major League Baseball team, or someone who cares more about $/WAR than an actual good product being put on the field.