Being Rich and Stupid

Now that our Boys of Summer are actually on the fields in Fort Myers, there’s plenty of people down there writing about it. I’m not down there yet (25 days and counting before I’m there, though!), so I’ll write about other stuff today.

Albert Pujols

I know I already wrote a full post on the subject a while back, but now that Albert Pujols has reported to the Cardinals’ Spring Training without a contract in place and has reaffirmed that the negotiations won’t resume until November when he hits free agency, it’s hard not continue drawing parallels with the Joe Mauer situation a year ago.

I know some people say one difference is that Mauer certainly would have had both the Yankees and Red Sox bidding for him on an open market, but that those two teams would likely not be bidding up the price on Pujols, since they both will have All-Star first basemen already on board with multi-year contracts. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe for a moment that, should Pujols actually file for free agency, one, or more likely both, of those teams wouldn’t make a serious play for the best hitter in baseball.

Boston has a ton of money coming off the books after this season (none of it regarding players they should try too hard to keep) and everyone knows the Yankees don’t have a payroll limit. Anyone who thinks that these teams wouldn’t go after Pujols because they already have first basemen under contract apparently hasn’t heard that the American League has adopted this new-fangled thing called a Designated Hitter. David Ortiz’s contract with the Red Sox is up after 2011 and they’d happily let him go to make room for Pujols; and last I heard, the Yankees were looking for Jorge Posada to be their primary DH. Hmmmm… Posada or Pujols… I dunno… that’s a REAL tough choice.

Here’s another thing I don’t understand about the Pujols deal. Why the heck would Pujols’ agent let him do something so stupid as to set a purely artificial “deadline” for reaching an agreement, like the “opening of Spring Training”? In doing so, he’s yielded the high ground to the Cardinals, who get to say, “we are willing to talk whenever Albert wants to talk”. They come off looking like the only reasonable parties while Pujols let’s himself get cast as the greedy jerk who’s trying to blackmail his mid-market ballclub.

The whole “I don’t want it to be a distraction” thing is bull. Does he really think nobody is going to talk about the situation all year just because he’s said he won’t negotiate? When he won’t answer questions about it, reporters will just keep asking his team mates about it (no distraction there, right?). EVERY series with the Cubs is going to be accompanied by sidebar articles written about the likelihood Pujols could be calling Wrigley Field home next season and that will happen whether the two sides are still talking or not. So why not keep talking? By the way, yes, I thought the same thing when Mauer’s side set a deadline of the end of Spring Training for reaching a deal last year. It’s just stupid, to me.

Stupid Owners

Speaking of stupid… I’m not sure whether anyone still is under the misperception that the wealthiest people in the world all got that way because they are inherently smarter than the rest of us, but if so, I think we can now officially put that theory to rest.

Sure, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are examples of people who had brilliant ideas and earned bajillions of dollars by bringing those ideas to the marketplace. But for every Steve Jobs, there’s also a Fred Wilpon. Whenever I even think for a moment about questioning the way the Pohlad family runs the Twins organization, all I have to do to feel better is spend 10 minutes reading pretty much anything written about these owners:

Fred Wilpon – Mets: Just when we thought he couldn’t make ANY decision worse than hiring Steve Phillips and Omar Minaya as GMs, we find out he also find a way to not only get swindled by Bernie Madoff, but also manage to get sued by the other victims (each of them a rich and stupid person in his/her own right, most likely) of Madoff’s scheme… and he could lose his baseball team as a result. By the way… hey, Johan, how’s that decision to force a trade to the Mets looking right now?

Jamie and Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt – Dodgers: Note to all owners… never let your spouse help you run your baseball team… even if she’s actually better at it than you are (in fact, ESPECIALLY if she’s better at it than you are)… and if you’re dumb enough to do that, don’t compound your stupidity by trying to throw her out over something as trivial as a little infidelity. After all, in Los Angeles, isn’t that pretty much expected?

Arte Moreno – Angels: Face it, we knew he was stupid when he gave Torii Hunter a deal that was worth twice what anyone else was offering, but to trade with Toronto for the privilege of taking over their payments to Vernon Wells is an even dumber move. If only the Twins had known they could have given Torii an absurd long term contract and just kept him for one or two productive seasons and then dumped him on the Angels for the last few years!

UPDATE… Miggy: In the comment section, AW appropriately inquires how I could do a “Being Rich and Stupid” post and not mention Tigers’ All-Star Miguel Cabrera. As I responded in the comments, I felt it was a sad situation and was inclined to hold off jumping on him immediately… hoping he’d finally get the help he needs. Then I read thisand this (via Baseball Outsider’s links)… and now, I’m officially ready to say, “Wow are you stupid!” Not so much at Miggy (though clearly he has behaved stupidly), but for now, assigning the label to the Tigers organization. They’re going to pay this guy $106 million over the next five years and despite his past and current behaviors, the first words out of the mouths of their GM and Manager are to reassure the fans that they want their All-Star drunk in camp as soon as possible and that he won’t miss any playing time. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d be more concerned with looking at how to make sure I’m not throwing money down a well for the next five years than whether he’s going to miss any time for the next few weeks. A little tough love might be in order here, but get the man some help, for cryin’ out loud.

A Couple of Non-stupid Links

I like Brian Wilson (the Giants’ closer, not the Beach Boy… well I like Beach Boys music, too, but that’s a bit off subject). Check out this Q&A with Wilson from Jon Wertheim at si.com. I think the Twins should trade for Wilson. After all, if you’re going to have two closers on your team, why not just go ahead and have three? And Wilson thinks a lot like I do… or at least a lot like I would like to think I would think if I were a Major League pitcher.

Joe Sheehan, also at si.com, might have had the best single line I read this week, in his article on the opt-out clause in Captain Cheeseburger’s contract with the Yankees: “Opt-out clauses are the most player-friendly part of baseball since groupies.” Hmmm… opt-out clauses and groupies… I really should have worked harder to develop a good sinking fastball when I was in high school. Ah well, probably too late to do anything about it now.

That’s it for today. Have a great weekend!

- JC