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What a Crazy Offseason

posted Jan 20, 2009, 10:44 AM by Steven Seagal   [ updated Feb 15, 2009, 11:49 AM ]
The countdown on the side of this page says there are 23 days remaining until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, and look at the list of free agents still available:
Manny Ramirez
Oliver Perez
Orlando Hudson
Adam Dunn
Bobby Abreu
Ben Sheets
Orlando Cabrera
Andy Pettitte
Jon Garland
Jason Varitek
Brandon Lyon
Randy Wolf
Freddy Garcia
Maybe a couple of these guys, especially the ones towards the bottom of the list, could be expected to be unsigned this late in the game.  But I think I've even left some type A free agents off the list altogether, so it should be bigger.  The point is, how, this late in the offseason, is the list this long?  How does it include one of the greatest right handed hitters to ever play the game?  Even with his downside, I can't believe nobody but the Dodgers is interested.  I thought 2nd base was a thin position?  How is O-dog still on this list?  Young lefties used to be considered gold, forcing bidding wars to drive up the price, yet Ollie has an (unconfirmed) $30M, 3 year offer from the Mets - and no other offers.  Bobby Abreu glances over his shoulder every 30 seconds in the outfield to make sure the wall isn't creeping in on him, but he's an RBI machine - yet nobody is even mentioning his name.
I guess what's most bizarre is not that these guys are unsigned - it's that there aren't even any RUMORS about them.  If a GM says a free agent's name out loud, he's rumored to be "poised to sign" the guy.  Check out (my personal favorite rumor mill) and all the stories are about minor league signings or small 1 year signings to avoid arbitration.  Scott Boras has been known to create a market for a pile of dogshit (except in A-rod's opt out case (not that A-rod is a pile of dogshit, I just mean that this was one of those situations where Boras was tasked with creating a market that didn't exist), which you've gotta assume he learned from and won't overplay his hand again... maybe....) yet he can't seem to drum up interest for Manny or Ollie.
Recession?  Maybe, but I don't think so.  I don't think billionaire baseball owners even know we're in one.  Maybe I'm wrong, maybe it has something to do with it, but the Nats were going to offer Tex close to $200M, so I don't see it.
I think it's a down cycle of free agency - not because of the economy outside of baseball, but because the economy INSIDE baseball.  Teams are signing their young superstars to long term contracts long before they're eligible for free agency.  Braun, Longoria, Wright, Han-Ram, Reyes, Sizemore... these are just the guys off the top of my head.  David Price signed a 6 year, $8.5M deal before throwing an inning of pro baseball (not even in the minors). GMs just seem to be shying away from free agency - they want to avoid it with their own talent and they don't want to bid for someone else's.  Even the Yankees got in on the act last year, passing on Johan (who wasn't a free agent, but who's no-trade clause and insistence on negotiating a long term extension before approving a trade made it a trade + free-agent signing) and swearing off their free-agency addiction, choosing instead to "stick with the kids."  The struggles of Hughes, Kennedy, and Cano, combined with Hank's ADHD asserting dominance over Cash and becoming George II, the Yanks are back on the stuff this year - big time, to the tune of half a billion dollars in new contracts.  But they seem to be the only team who couldn't stay off.
Agents going around saying they want "Barry Zito" money or "Carlos SIlva" money aren't helping their cause any, since GMs cringe at the prospect of being the guy associated with another one of those contracts.  All I know is that whatever the reason - whether it's the economy, the rash of long term deals for young talent, or the decline of the steroid era and the gilded age of baseball - Manny and Ollie should grab those deals, because then the Mets will have signed a young lefty stud who hasn't come close to his peak (in my opinion) for 3 years, $30M.  Then O-dog should knock on the Mets door and offer his services at a price so cheap that they can afford to just cut Castillo. Maybe these guys can't see the wisdom in signing at huge discounts with the Mets, but I can.  Send them over my way and I'll talk some sense into them.  Manny, you can come, too.