December 17, 2005

I'm sorry, did you say contract? What contract?: It's a wonderful life, if you can get one. Millions of dollars, expensive sports cars, reservations in the finest restaurants, babes. ...

posted by skydivemom to baseball at 05:32 PM - 19 comments

In my opinion - I don't really understand all the excitement these big contracts seem to be getting. If you don't like it in a couple of years you just get out. I would be curious to find out how many are actually completely fulfilled when it is for more than 4 years. I don't think I would sign anyone to a extended year major contract in a job that has such great possibilities for injury. I guess it doesn't really matter though cause there always seems to be a way to get out of them.

posted by skydivemom at 06:04 PM on December 17, 2005

That is how owners get their bungs in such trouble, by the habit of signing injury-prone athletes to long-term contracts, then having to pay for their non-playing when they can't. But we can't blame them for their stupidity, can we? Noooooooooooooo. (said as if John Belushi) A pile of money never qualified anyone as an intellectual, and most team owners are nowhere near it. Except a few, but I don't think any are in baseball.

posted by mrhockey at 08:45 PM on December 17, 2005

I'd like to see an owner who had the cojones (and smarts) to actually build negative incentives in. For example, Pudge Rodriguez would have taken a big hit off his $10MM annual salary last year if I were the owner, since by his standards he sucked. He was up there swinging at everything, walked only 10 times all year, BA, homers, RBIs all way down. No big leaguer should be able to coast from 5-yr deal to 5-yr deal and only have to kick it in when it's time for a new one.

posted by philly54 at 09:41 PM on December 17, 2005

(from the article): Say this: Boston's 2003 World Series title with Ramirez notwithstanding...
Typo? Or is he a moron? Actually, I agree with the writer to an extent, but what of it? He doesn't say much of anything, except listing some big winter contracts have failed. He doesn't tell us of the contracts that have worked, except for a couple for the Angels at the end. He doesn't make a solid case using thorough empirical evidence- as opposed to cherry picked anecdotal evidence- that the majority/significant percentage of winter contracts fail. Yes, long term contracts are usually a mistake for the team and a godsend for a player, and paying a player heavily for years to come based on being good for just the last couple is stupid- at the very least, the team should do front-loaded contracts, where the player gets cheaper if he gets worse, and not these back-loaded wons that are impossible to unload and are just financial and book-keeping shenanigans for the team. And GM's will still make those mistakes, because it's rarely about performing well so much as making the season-ticket holders think you're making an effort (see: Seattle Mariners). I have no sympathy for the owners signing these contracts, since they are far richer than the players we mock, and as mrhockey says just because they're rich doesn't mean they're smart. But then, Randy Johnson's 3 of 4 years in Arizona were a fucking steal for the Dbacks given his level of performance, and Manny Ramirez- despite constant trade talk and alleged demands- has been a non-stop hitting dynamo on the field for the Red Sox. Really, for the Sox any bad contract is seen in the light of the unimaginable championship in 2004, by which all sins are forgiven (for a good long while, at least). Sometimes, GM's sign stupid contracts with bad players, but other times the problem is a great player who plays great, but later decides he doesn't want to be in your city. Those are two very different scenarios, which the article writer incorrectly merges into the same issue. I think one thing that would be good is if the teams could insert low-end, performance-based clauses into the contract that would nullify the deal. High-end contracts tied to performance goals- excluding things like awards or all-star status- are not allowed by the union as far as I know, since too often the team's management could ensure a player would start getting benched if they got too close to an incentive claus. But perhaps allowing a low-end contract clause would be useful- that the team would have the option to nullify the contract if the player missed too many games due to injury, or did not play at a certain low-end level that should be the minimum expectation. See, the players should understand the other side of the contract: if you're going to bitch and moan one year into a contract that you don't like the city, well too fucking bad. That's why it's a contract- they have to agree to pay you, and you have to agree to play, period. The teams get the shaft currently: they are stuck paying a player, and all he has to do is show up in uniform- he can choose to intentionally stink on the field just to force their hand, but they can't break the contract for that, that I am aware of. If that balance of power were shifted a little, it would make for a better contract situation all around: the great players would get just as rewarded, the flame-outs and hype-babies would get discarded as quickly as they were found.

posted by hincandenza at 09:45 PM on December 17, 2005

Hal That was a terrific comment. Well toughtout and presented. Touche! I find myself with nothing to add.

posted by skydivedad at 09:59 PM on December 17, 2005

But perhaps allowing a low-end contract clause would be useful- that the team would have the option to nullify the contract if the player missed too many games due to injury, or did not play at a certain low-end level that should be the minimum expectation. I like this idea. I don't think we would really see as many injuries as we do now. Shoot if I could call in sick everyday and still get great pay part of me thinks I would do it. I am not saying it is very honest but it is awful tempting.

posted by skydivemom at 10:03 PM on December 17, 2005

I would hope these multi year contract holders would have an appreciation for their predecessors, but I haven't heard about a single current player supporting their lawsuit. It is a shame that the great game of baseball cannot take care of their own. They are not asking for much.

posted by sandman at 12:51 AM on December 18, 2005

I've thought for years that most professional sports should be more like golf in that one gets paid, or not, based on performance. A base salary would be paid to all players, (which would be more in a year than I'll probably make in ten) and then their play on the field, court, ice, whatever would bring in the big bucks for the ones truly outperforming the competition.

posted by lawman6713 at 03:21 AM on December 18, 2005

Right, then watch all the player's unions have a litter of kittens on the floor right there. You would have to get reasonable players to sign the contracts, as well. It's a great pipe dream but, well, it's just not going to happen like that in today's world.

posted by mrhockey at 09:24 AM on December 18, 2005

There seems to be two threads in the comments. One about the size of contracts, and one about players loyalty to stay with the team that signed them. About the money. As I see it, baseball is entertainment and the players are entertainers. As with movie stars, rock stars etc. there is no correct amount of pay. The ballplayer most in demand gets the most bucks. To be otherwise would seem silly, or socialistic. As for the loyalty of players not wanting to stay on the team that signed them. There are two signatures on the contract - the player and the owner. No one seems to be complaining about an owner signing a player, and later trading the player. Throughout most of the history of baseball, the player had no say in where he played. Then along came Curt Flood's lawsuit and the players started to get some say in their future. Now, instead of being low paid servants of the owners, they are rediculiously rich. So what. Lots of people are centamillionaires, just check out Forbes list - it's mind boggeling. Personally, I don't begrudge Clint Eastwood or Mick Jager or ARod their millions. They are the people who generate the vast entertainment revenues. They are entitled to take as much of it as they can get.

posted by drevl at 10:28 AM on December 18, 2005

lawman6713: Golf is an individual sport. That won't work for baseball. What happens when a manager needs a sacrifice bunt and the player is one home run away from his bonus? Hal: I don't think the teams get the shaft at all. What about the many players getting base pay who outperform the stars? I don't see any teams sending an extra check after the season -- "You know your contract was a steal. Here's an extra million." They're all adults. They know what they're getting into. And, let's face it, the owners are the ones with the money. The players, each and every one, are just the employees. on preview -- drevl: well said.

posted by ?! at 10:55 AM on December 18, 2005

I'd like to see an owner who had the cojones (and smarts) to actually build negative incentives in. They can't do it. It's in the collective bargaining agreement that they signed with the players' union. I don't see any teams sending an extra check after the season -- "You know your contract was a steal. Here's an extra million." Exactly. For every case where a fan complains a player is underperforming, or is being wimpy by wanting out of the contract/team they are in, there are 3 or 4 cases of players making league minimum (or a bit more) who haven't even had a chance to negotiate a contract for the first 6 years of their career. Shoot if I could call in sick everyday and still get great pay part of me thinks I would do it. I am not saying it is very honest but it is awful tempting. But if a player "calls in sick" too often during a contract, they probably don't get a big contract (or any) when it is done. So they've sacrificed their future for "pretending" to be sick? Since a baseball career can be VERY short (most under 10 years), you have to make as much money as you can in as short of time as possible. Not performing due to injuries is a quick way to end your career. I very much doubt players are "faking" injuries to get money for sitting around. Considering most of them have team mandated training regimens (and rehab after injuries), I don't see how they are relaxing while out of the game with an injury.

posted by grum@work at 11:29 AM on December 18, 2005

Are you saying you wouldn't even be tempted to slowly nurse a pulled muscle more so if you were going to get however many astronomical millions for the next ten years? Who cares if my career is over then as you stated most only last 10 years anyway. Even if it was for 4 or 5 years I might consider it. If I have a cold and will not get paid to call in sick, I would show up to work. If I was going to make millions and be sitting on a multi year contract.....I am not sure. If this is the way I feel, how do you know baseball players (who are also humans) do not feel the same way.

posted by skydivemom at 12:38 PM on December 18, 2005

skydivermom: How do you know that represents the majority view? In most of my jobs I still got paid if I called in sick. And I still went to work. I think many people are interested in more than getting by. Many baseball players through the years have played hurt attempting to help the team whatever way they can. I'd like to think those kind of players (and humans) are in the majority.

posted by ?! at 09:27 PM on December 18, 2005

I don't believe I ever said it was the majority, I just said it would be tempting. My point is I don't agree with big/multi year contracts. I think they should stick to 1/2 year contracts and see how the performance goes. I think the level of performance would increase. This in my opinion would benefit everyone who isn't a slacker. If you have a great season you can negotiate for more money and not be stuck in a low paying/multi-year contract. If you have a injury or bad season, the club isn't stuck with a high paying/multi-year contract. If you are a slacker you don't get rewarded for not performing your best.

posted by skydivemom at 09:44 PM on December 18, 2005

Yes, but that won't work - someone will outbid you for the services of great players - so they will guarantee the money to guarantee the signing. Also, performance based contracts only work in sports where individuals worried about their stats won't affect the way the team does (i.e. you're 2 hits away from an extra $75,000 - do you bunt even though the situation demands it?). You'll also have situations where players will play to avoid injuries. Which basically translates into not taking risks. So I think you're quite wrong. I don't think performance increases - I think it may in fact decrease.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:25 AM on December 19, 2005

WeedyMcSmokey: well said Charlie Finley (then owner of the Athletics) tried to convince all MLB owners to issue only one year contracts. He realized that few players would get decent contracts and most would get league minimum. Plus, he could always say to a hot pitcher: "Sure, you threw a ton of strike-outs last season, but history tells us you probably won't repeat next year. Accept this small raise." Then when the guy blos his arm out...drop him completely. The MLB owners didn't like it because the cheap teams hoped they could sign a player to a multi-year contract before he realized what he was worth. The freespending teams wanted to lock up the best players and not be forced to bid against rogue owners like Finley.

posted by ?! at 09:18 AM on December 19, 2005

Ok - I concede the point. You guys have made me look at this differently and I can understand your points. Please excuse my limited knowledge (I am just learning this game) and thank you for pointing things out.

posted by skydivemom at 03:58 PM on December 19, 2005

i agree but that life is not an option for many thats why some people have contracts they have the talent.

posted by Alfonso12 at 02:54 PM on January 03, 2006

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