And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Reds 7, Nationals 0: Johnny Gomes (Johnny Gomes?) hits three homers and Bronson “Flintstones kids, ten million strong and growing
Arroyo throws a two-hit shutout. Obviously his best game of the season,
so maybe he decided to use his one DUI last night. Hey man, he earned
it.

Tigers 2, Red Sox 0: Justin Verlander (8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 8K)
helps the Tigers salvage one. He also hit Chris Woodward twice, but no
benches cleared and no punches were thrown because, hey, it’s just
Chris Woodward.

Rockies 10, Pirates 1: Yesterday I complained about Josh
Beckett’s possible Cy Young. No such worries about Jason Marquis,
though. Sure, he has the wins, but there are a lot of guys pitching
much better than him overall who are close enough in the oh-so-critical
win column and who pitch for contenders (e.g. Lincecum, Carpenter,
Cain, Wainwright). I don’t think that even baseball writers are dumb
enough to overlook all of them and give Jason Marquis an award. But
hey, he did pitch well yesterday (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER).

Royals 5, Twins 4: Joe Mauer was 2-4 with a homer and four RBI,
but it wasn’t enough as (a) no one else on his team knocked anyone in;
and (b) Carl Pavano allowed 5. The Royals take the series 2-1, which is
their first win since the signing of the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819. At
least it seems like it.

Phillies 6, Cubs 1: And the sweep. Cliff Lee, he’s pretty good (8 IP, 6 H. 1 ER, 8K). Easily the best pickup for Philadelphia this year. In any sport.

Rangers 4, Indians 1: A day game, but they replayed it on STO
last night. AMC was showing “Major League” at the same time. I don’t
think I need to tell you which one I watched. Kind of wished I had
watched the seventh and eighth of this one, though, as Neftali Feliz
struck out five guys in those two innings of relief work. Gotta love
that Mark Teixeira trade!

Brewers 12, Padres 9: Prince Fielder and Mike Rivera each had
two dingers, and Ryan Braun launched one too. They needed it all,
though, as despite jumping out to a 9-0 lead, they never really put the
Padres away until the very end. According to the game story, Fielder
and Braun wouldn’t talk to the media after the game, choosing instead
to defy the requests of the Brewers’ P.R. department and hide in the
meal area that is off limits to reporters. What gives with those guys?
As the season goes on, they seem to get gotten pissier and pissier.

Yankees 11, Mariners 1: CC Sabathia (8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER. 10K) and
Hideki Matsui (4-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI) beat the tar out of the Mariners. Ian
Snell: “That lineup is just stupid. They shouldn’t be allowed to have a
lineup like that, but that is why their payroll is what it is. That is
a lineup nobody in the National League has.”

Marlins 9, Astros 2: Every couple of weeks I come across a game
about which I find nothing interesting. Nine out of ten times it’s an
Astros game, though I have no idea why. In light of coming across yet
another one, I’m going to note that I am currently re-reading Leo
Durocher’s Nice Guys Finish Last (which is being re-released very soon).
I’ll further note that, on the first page of the book, Leo talks about
all of the various ways he, his teammates and his opponents cheated
throughout their careers. He sums it up by saying “If you get away with
it, fine. If you don’t, what have you lost? . . . Win any way you can
as long as you can get away with it.” I sit here this morning wondering
why, then, we’re all so shocked and sanctimonious about everything that
has transpired in the past few years.

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

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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.