Monday, February 12, 2007
One Great Article!
Good News/Bad News
Good morning everyone! I hope you had a great weekend! I got back home on Saturday afternoon! As much as those 70-75 degree days were much appreciated, it is still nice to be able to come home!
Sunday morning, we found out that Joe Mauer and the Twins reached an agreement on a four year, $33 million contract. Of course, if you have been paying attention for the last week, this deal has been rumored so it should really come as no surprise.
Mauer had requested $4.5 million in arbitration with the Twins countering with an offer of $3.3 million. As we have seen, many times the teams just agree to a mid-point number for a one year deal. However, what we have also learned that when a long-term deal is reached, the players usually is willing to go below that midpoint. The midpoint would have been $3.9 million, but instead, Mauer will "settle" for $3.75 million in 2007. However, he will now make $6.25 million in 2008, $10.5 million in 2009 and $12.5 million in 2010.
Positives for Mauer? Well, Mauer can now play with the security of lifetime wealth, although I doubt he was too worried about that. He also knows that even if he were to get hurt and never play again, he will make $33 million over the next four years.
Positives for the Twins? They have locked up one of baseball's best players for a contract very similar to what the Twins gave Torii Hunter after the 2002 season (4 years, $32 million, but with the option year for 2007). That alone tells me that this was a very good deal for the Twins. Assuming that Mauer continues to be the best catcher in baseball, or even one of the best, which is very realistic, his pay over the following three years will likely be less than it could be if they went to arbitration the next two years. It also secures Mauer will be a Twin through one of of free agent years. This is really important because the Twins have the rights to Mauer for the next three years, but he would be available in free agency to the other teams prior to the 2010 season, and now that is no longer the case.
Also, instead of signing him to a risky (particularly for a catcher) seven or eight year deal, they limit their risk by only going to four years. Of course, some could fairly argue that the team should take a risk and sign him to the additional years and retain his services for even longer. Both sides are really right, but being a small market team, eliminating risk is very important.
The Twins also gain some cost-certainty over the next four years. In other words, Mauer's contract numbers for the next four years are already known and Terry Ryan will be able to know better how much money he has to work with. That is especially important to the Twins now when they are giving eight-figure contracts to several players and with a few more that could rightfully ask for significant raises in the coming years.
Some may think that the dollars are high. Well, that is completely relative, isn't it? Mauer got market value for his services. Did anyone expect that Mauer would sign at a hometown discount? Why would we expect that when the Twins had to give him $5.5 million back in 2001 just for him to sign with them. He wasn't doing discounts then, and he didn't now. One positive that I see, however, is that Mauer is represented by Ron Shapiro, the same guy that represented Kirby Puckett and Cal Ripken, two guys known for staying with their original teams. Although it is his duty to get what he can for his client, at least we can guess that he will understand the benefits associated with staying with your original club.
This was really a big signing for the Twins, both in terms of dollars and in terms of what it means for the club. Michael Cuddyer is the only remaining arbitration-eligible player unsigned. I expect an agreement to be reached in the next few days. Hopefully that can be a multi-year deal as well. I think that Mauer's contract gives a basis for negotiating a long-term deal with Justin Morneau. As Morneau will make about $750,000 more than Mauer in 2007, the Twins could sign him for the same number of years, at a salary of the same $750,000 more than Mauer. That would make for a four year, $36 million contract, which I don't think is unfair for the powerful slugger even if you do believe that Mauer is worth more. Realize that there is a good chance that Ryan Howard will soon sign a 6 or 7 year deal with the Phillies for more than the $85 million that they gave Chase Utley. Then realize that Morneau is actually 18 months younger than Howard!
Another thing to remember is that the Twins will (hopefully) be in their new stadium in 2010. The team should have more revenues available. TV and radio contracts will hopefully continue to be high, and attendance should remain very good the next three years as retaining this core of players should keep the team competitive. As that time approaches, the Twins can determine whether to add more years to the player's contracts. Likewise, I think that the Twins should continue working to get extensions for both Johan Santana and Joe Nathan. Will they be able to retain them all? I don't know, but being able to sign them too early, rather than too late can only help. Having a core of great players to be surrounded by young, talented players developed in the system is the way to go.
It is a revolving cycle really. The Twins developed a bunch of solid players in the early '00s. Those players helped the team become competitive. At the same time, the team drafted and developed its second wave of prospects. They used the first guys in trades, or used the draft picks that they received as compensation, to acquire more young, talented players. The second wave of players is better than that first wave, so more of them need to be retained. But player development is where it is at. You can keep more core players at more costly numbers when you can complement them with talented players playing at or near the league minimum.
All of that is more than you were looking for. But it is my long-winded way of saying that, this really is a great signing for the Twins and hopefully just a start to more such signings and more years of putting a competitive team on the field.
So, if I have left anything out, or you disagree with any of it, please e-mail me or let's have some discussion in the Comments.
ONE GREAT ARTICLE!
If you haven't yet, please take a minute to read the excellent article on Torii Hunter that was written by the Tribune's Joe Christensen. I have been harsh at times on Torii Hunter, and I have said that he isn't worth the money. But then you read a great article like this and you realize that as great as these ball players are and how we hold them up on a pedestal at times, they are people just like the rest of us. We all have problems and Torii has come through a lot of trials and tribulations to have the success that he has had in his career, and in his life.
On a separate scale, the article does a great job of separating what a blogger is able to do versus what a sports writer can do. As a blogger, I have the ability to write without worrying about being edited. I can use a lot of stats to support a personal opinion on any topic. I can be as harsh as I choose to be. What I don't have, is inside access. To me, there is nothing better than a great article that lets you inside the lives and minds of the players. That is something that bloggers do not currently have access to.
Anyway, check out the article. And to Joe Christensen... Kudos!
Good News/Bad News
And finally, Dayn Perry posted his first Power Rankings of the year. The Good News? Perry ranks the Twins as the 7th best team in all of baseball. The Bad News? That ranks fourth in the AL Central. He has the Indians ranked second. The Tigers rank fourth. The White Sox were ranked sixth, followed directly by the Twins.
Have a great week! Throughout the week, I hope to post several Q&As with players as they prepare to begin spring training, so be sure to stop back.|
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