Michael Wilbon has a column up over at ESPN today in which he implores the Cubs to go after Albert Pujols in free agency.
It’s fine as far as it goes, but I tend not to like arguments that basically come down to “how big it would be!” for team X to sign player Y and about how players are “iconic.” I suspect that the idea of franchises “making statements” and adding “credibility” to the team is one that gets talked about by writers approximately 1000 times more than it does in real front offices.
One comment he makes, though, has me thinking:
Asking whether the Cubs really should go after Pujols is like asking whether a team should have taken Lou Gehrig at a similar stage of his career. The notion that Pujols would be overpaid in the final two or three years of a 10-year-contract ignores the fact that he’s been underpaid — not just the first few years, but over his entire career so far, even this coming season at $16 million. Every single at-bat of Pujols’ career suggests he has four to five Hall of Fame seasons left, by which time the Cubs could have won, at long last, a World Series.
Icon status aside, do you go 8-10 years for the Gehrig/Pujols player if you may only get five good years? I’m trying to think of examples in which someone has been burned on the tail end of a long term deal but the general assessment was “it was worth it anyway.” Maybe that will happen with A-Rod. I suppose it could happen with Todd Helton. Anyone else? Any candidates?
The risk stuff on a long term deal for Pujols is probably the more interesting to me than even the “where might he end up if not in St. Louis” question. I’m someone who is probably too risk averse in life. It’s just my disposition. But I also understand the argument which holds that avoiding risks often locks in the downside of something in a far more certain way than taking the risk ever would. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, you know.
Pujols might be the one guy I’d take five great years for even if there’s a great chance he gets old fast later and doesn’t earn his considerable keep. But it’s not an easy call. Which is why it’s probably a good think I’m not the GM of a baseball team.
On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.
The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.
The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.
It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:
On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:
“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”
Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.