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  Thursday, December 18, 2014
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Out of Control
By Paul Noonan

     There’s not much to learn from the way the NHL runs things seeing as they’ve pretty much ran the league right into the ground, but one thing one would think could be learned is salary control.  The NHL claims its reason for their lockout was that owners were losing money and salaries were getting out of control.  They claimed it was putting small market teams at a disadvantage.  Exactly how truthful that is is debatable, but either way it resulted in the lockout.  So you would think that baseball, a sport that also has seen the adverse effects of play stoppage, would take a hint and try and make sure they don’t follow the same road.  NOPE.  This summer’s ‘money grows on trees’ spending by MLB owners could lead to a dangerous situation down the road.  More importantly it shows that hockey owners aren’t the only ones who can’t seem to keep their hands away from their pockets.

             

     Vincente Padilla, $11 million a year.  Adam Eaton, $8 million a year.  Gil Meche, $11 million a year.  Frank Thomas, who was as wanted as a tie for Christmas before last season, $9 million a year.  And possibly the best of all, J.D. Drew, $14 million a year (which by the way is the same amount as Albert Pujols, arguably the best position player in the league).  Those are just a few of the bigger names amongst a few other questionable paydays.  The spending has been out of control.  Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Lee and Barry Bonds all raked in good paydays as well, but at least you can argue they’ll be worth most of that money.  That can’t be done with any of the above names.  Padilla, Eaton and Meche are all good pitchers at best.  Neither has a career ERA below 4.05 and neither has a career record very far over .500.  In his prime, Frank Thomas was as good a power hitter as there was out there.  However, the Big Hurt has hurt his team more than help them for the better half of the last decade.  He had a comeback season last year, but who’s to say he repeats it?  It could have been a last gasp.  Also take into account that he’s moving from the division with arguably the worst overall pitching to the division with possibly the best.  And even the Red Sox couldn’t help but join the Dumb and Dumber like handing out of money.  Is J.D. Drew a good player?  Yes.  Will he help the Sox?  Yes.  Will he be worth the money?  Probably not.  Minus last season and 2004, J.D. Drew has been good, at best, and very inconsistent.  Not to mention injury prone.  His career high batting average is .323, yet his low is .242.  He followed a then career best .323, 27 HR, 73 RBI season with a .252, 18, 52 season.  Hardly the consistency you would want from your second highest paid player. 

             

     It should be no surprise that two of the teams that overpaid again this year (Boston and Texas) can be thanked most for the recent trend.  After all it was Boston and Texas that offered Manny an 8 year, $160 million deal and then A- Rod a 10 year, $252 million deal, which got this nice trend started.  Granted both of those players will go down as two of the best of their time and are sure fire Hall of Famers, but they should also go down as the reasons for the multi- year, nine figure contracts of today.  This is a problem the MLB will have to correct before somebody pays the price, most likely the ticket payers, i.e. the fans.  It’s one thing to overpay a little for All- Star, future Hall of Fame players, but once you start overpaying for your depth players, you’re starting a cycle that surely won’t end pretty.



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