Friday, February 6, 2009

Some good Stark comments

Jayson Stark has his latest Rumblings out. As always, worth reading. Two topics that are worth focusing on: 1) The free agent market and 2) The Angels.

On the icy free agent market:

No more secrets: What happened on the Manny Ramirez front this week is the ultimate illustration of how this little wrinkle has worked all winter. The Dodgers make a new offer. Word of that offer leaks out. Then GMs from five different teams announce publicly they're not pursuing Manny -- an announcement that makes it much tougher for Scott Boras to play his time-honored Mystery Team game. Now for us reporters trying to cover the old Hot Stove circuit, this is fine. But as a business strategy, it's odd. Isn't it? As another veteran baseball man put it, "Most businesses do not want their competitors to know what they are doing. In this industry, every day a club makes some public pronouncement, so that all of its competitors will know exactly what they are doing." And remember, these teams are all supposed to be competing against each other.
I have found this interesting, too. No, it's not collusion but it's almost collusion against Boras. Stark landed a beefy quote that seems to put everything together:
"It's the perfect storm," said an official of one club. "You've got a lot of good players on the market. The rules [on offering arbitration and the calendar] have changed, so there's no pressure to get deals done the first week of January. Draft picks are at a premium now. The economy is horrible. And these agents misread it."
Add in the very real fact that some teams are legitimately teetering, financially, right now:

A high-ranking official of one AL team said: "Out of the 30 teams in the sport, 15 are scared to death by this economy. They're scared about ticket sales. They're scared that sponsorships are going to be cutting back. They're just scared."


On the Angels' bitterness:

Maybe it's me and my biases, but I read this and said aloud that the Angels' brain trust comes across as a wee bit too sensitive.
"Arte is ticked at Boras, and he's ticked at Teixeira," said one source. "They made one offer, and they never got a chance to make another. They were led to believe by Teixeira that he was really interested in being back there. But after they made their offer, they literally got no response. So they feel like they were lied to."

By the time the Angels knew Teixeira was signing elsewhere, it was already late December, and their Plan B (Sabathia) was also off the board. So they've wound up going through the winter without making a single addition to either their lineup or their rotation. Not quite what anybody envisioned when this offseason began.
They sat on their hurt and to me, that has been more detrimental than anything else. Aww, Teix spurned their advances, so rather than go be aggressive elsewhere, they have decided that they are taking their ball and going home. Waaaaa. This is a team that is a perennial contender but fading offensively. Vlad looks 45 going on a hip replacement. They have no proven power at 1B (Kendry Morales?) since Teix left and they traded Kotchman to get Teix. This is a team that should be looking at Manny or Abreu or even Dunn to help out that offense. The prices have come down (at least for the latter two). Dunn could play 1B or DH and lend instant 40 HR power and lineup protection to Vlad the Hobbler. Instead, they did nothing but stew in their own bitterness. At least they have Gary Matthews, Jr.'s contract to dull the pain.

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