UPDATE: OK, so maybe Joey Votto wasn't being rude

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UPDATE: Upon a few hours of reflection I’m fairly certain I
totally whiffed
here. I haven’t seen video of Votto’s comments (I based my post on ESPN
Chicago’s linked story), but logic suggests that Votto’s tone here
probably
mattered a hell of a lot and it’s entirely possible, if not probable,
that Votto was goofing off a bit here. When I read it through the first
time I assumed that
Votto’s comments was a straight up “I really didn’t want to congratulate
Marlon Byrd” thing, and both re-reading the story and using basic
common sense, I don’t think it’s fair to assume that. I’m not saying I
totally endorse the “I don’t like the Cubs” preamble to his answer, but
that’s kind of minor if, indeed, Votto was being a little tongue in
cheek.

If I had to do the post over again — and since it’s the
Internet, you
can’t really erase what you did before — I probably would have just
made it a stand alone “quote of the day” and let you all try to
figure out what the hell Votto was getting at if anything rather than
make the assumption I made.

Not trying to use it as an excuse, but I write close to 100 posts a week
and, dammit, not all of them are going to be good. This is one of those
not-good ones. Apologies.

4:15 P.M: Dave at Big League Stew alerted me to this bit of lunacy from Joey Votto yesterday, when asked to comment on Marlon Byrd making a couple of key plays to help lead the NL to victory:

“I don’t like the Cubs.  And I’m not going to pat anybody
with a Cubs uniform on the back. But because he made that really cool
play, it turned out to be a really cool experience. I’m really glad we
got the win today.”

Thanks for the win, but no thanks to you, Byrd. I’m sure there are a ton of old timers who would say that they were never friendly with the opposition, but coming in this day and age, in reference to a guy who — at least in the context of yesterday — was Votto’s own teammate, this comes off as really damn juvenile.

This is especially true directed at Byrd who — based on what people have told me — is a really, really nice guy who would probably be high-fiving Votto if the situations were reversed.

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.