Miami-Dade mayor: “The freedom-loving people” of Miami want Ozzie Guillen fired

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L’affair Ozzie is continuing apace. We’ve had the comment, the outrage, the apology, the media hand-wringing, and now the political opportunism.

In the run-up to Ozzie Guillen’s second apology over his Castro comment, Carlos Giminez, the Mayor of Miami-Dade County, calls for his termination. Because apparently there is nothing more satisfying to “freedom-loving people” than to fire a person for voicing a weak, unpopular political opinion:

“I join the rest of our Miami-Dade County community and all freedom-loving people in condemning the statement made by Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen,” Gimenez said in a 5 p.m. statement. “For too long, the Marlins organization has been the source of controversies in our community and I now challenge them to take decisive steps to bring this community back together.”

“Bring this community back together?”  Call me crazy, but I have this feeling that a community that is strong enough to have escaped Castro and build what it has built in Miami is not capable of being destroyed by an isolated incident of one loudmouth saying something ill-considered to a magazine reporter.

Anyway, Gimenez didn’t say what those “decisive steps” were, but it’s pretty clear that he wants Guillen fired. Which, as I said yesterday, seems preposterous to me. At least if you treat this as merely a matter of Ozzie Guillen spouting off.

But maybe it’s not just about Ozzie spouting off to Miami politicians. That comment about the Marlins being “the source of controversies”  is loaded with meaning, likely being a reference to the funding of the new ballpark, which is now the subject of a federal investigation. That messiness led directly to Mr. Giminez getting his job, when his predecessor was recalled due to his involvement in alleged shadiness. Moreover, the matter of who supported public money for the Marlins became an issue in the subsequent election to replace the old mayor, with Giminez being an anti-stadium dollars guy.

Which, hey, good for him because that’s admirable. But it also suggests that being tough on the Marlins is part of Gimenez’s recent political DNA too.  Which suggests that Guillen is being seized on, not only because he said something that people in Miami don’t like, but because it’s politically expedient for some folks to make the Marlins into the boogeyman.

So, the theater continues. The allegedly shocking comment, the outrage, the first apology, the media hand-wringing, the second apology and now the political opportunism. All that’s left are the lawsuits, right? That’s how this sort of thing tends to go, isn’t it?

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.