“Seven years for a pitcher is a lifetime. It’s just scary, and any general manager who tells you it isn’t, well, I’m not sure what calculations they are going by.”
— Kevin Malone, former Dodgers general manager who signed Kevin Brown to a seven-year, $105 million contract in 1999.
That quote comes in the course of an article in today’s New York Times looking back at the history of long deals for pitchers. It’s not a good history. At least Kevin Brown gave L.A. some decent, albeit sporadic production for five of those years. Add to the list Mike Hampton and Wayne Garland. Haven’t heard of Garland? Exactly.
CC Sabathia is the only pitcher mentioned among those seven-year+ deals who strikes me as someone who will ultimately have been worth it. But then again, he’s a beast of a man with no injury history and an uncomplicated delivery who relies on power more than a fine touch. Oh, and he was much younger when he signed his deal. Someone like that, sure, maybe it’s worth it.
Cliff Lee for seven years? Yikes.
On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”
Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:
To that, Archer said:
For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.
The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:
“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”
Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.
That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.