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"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Yankees Sign Matsui

The Yankees reached an agreement with Hideki Matsui that will pay him $13 million per year over the next four. Resigning Matsui appeared to be the Yankees top priority this winter. It's no surprise that they got a deal done, but it is beneficial that they got it done so quickly. As for the contract itself, I believe it's a bit overpriced when looking at the market standards. You must realize though that market standards sort of go out the window when dealing with the Yankees. I also have no idea how much revenue Matsui brings to the club through overseas merchandising. I would assume it's enough to cover the value of the contract, making this a good business deal for Steinbrenner.

What I mean by saying that market standards are somewhat irrelevant for the Yankees is that with their budget they can afford to overpay for players. If a low payroll club like the Twins were to overpay a player by $3 million per year, they lose out on that money to upgrade the team in other positions. The Yankees, however, simply up their payroll by $3 million dollars and the rest of their team is not negatively effected.

As for Matsui actually being worth $13 million for his on-field performance, I just don't see it. It's not a ridiculous contract, but it does overvalue his contributions. Matsui just came off a season in which he posted a .863 slugging percentage, good for just 41st in MLB. Matsui is also 31 years old, so one would assume his best days are behind him. I still expect him to be highly productive for the next 2-3 years though. So for the Yankees, it's a good signing. Had my Twins dropped that kind of cash on Matsui, not so much.

What going on in the rest of the league? Talk is that the Cubs are working on a deal that would bring Juan Pierre to the Windy City for a couple prospects not named Pie, Hill, or Cedeno. If Pierre can bring his OBP up to the standards he set in '03 and '04, this could be a pretty good deal. If his OBP stays below .330, combined with average defense, I'm not so sure the stolen bases are worth it. One thing is clear though and that is that Jim Hendry is serious about addressing the leadoff spot. He also says the acquisition of Pierre would not effect the club's pursuit of Rafeal Furcal.

The Marlins seem fairly willing to eat some of Mike Lowell's contract if they can find a trade partner. Lowell is owed $18 million over the next 2 years. The Marlins might be willing to pay half of that salary. That makes Lowell a pretty attractive option. I know he had a down year, but in the previous 3 seasons he was one of the best 3rd baseman in the league. And $4.5 million per year won't be that much more than guys like Bill Mueller and Joe Randa will be seeking. Consider the upside of Lowell's potential compared to Mueller and Randa and there will be teams willing to take a chance on him. As a Twins fan, I'm hoping that Terry Ryan looks into him. So long as they don't have to give up too much of their minor league piching depth.

The rest of the free agent market will likely be pretty slow until December 7th I believe. Teams signing free agents before that date will be forced to give up additional draft picks. I'ts also very likely that since the free agent market is slim this year, that most of the action will be done via trade.

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