“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.
Minor League Baseball announced on Wednesday that, for the 14th consecutive season, the league has eclipsed 40 million in total attendance. 20 teams set single-game attendance records and seven teams set franchise records for single-game attendance in their current parks.
ESPN’s Keith Law, who has been covering the minor leagues for quite a while, did the math:
Minor League Baseball president and CEO Pat O’Conner, whose most prominent stint in the public eye involved him disingenuously justifying the underpaying of his players, said, “Minor League Baseball continues to be the best entertainment value in sports, and these numbers support that. For us to top 40 million fans for the 14th consecutive season despite the weather challenges our teams faced in April and May is a testament to the continued support of our loyal fan bases and the creative promotions and hard work done by all of our teams across the country.”
Major and Minor League Baseball are quite happy to make money hand over fist on the backs of their players, but are too cheap to pay them adequately for their labor.