Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sure Enough, Recession Hits Major League Baseball

For weeks now, we've heard how bad the global economy is, especially in the good ol' United State of America. We've heard that even those immune to past recessions (read: the richest of the rich) are taking a bath. Bulgari. Ebay. Boeing. Each dawn drags a new name into the muddy financial murk.

Some members of the national sports media have even been pushing the idea in baseball.

We've been told that Major League Baseball's version of the luxury brands - the New York Yankees, NY Mets, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels, and LA Dodgers - won't be up to their typical free-wheeling and dealing ways.

Uh huh.

The Yankees just caught the biggest free-agent fish, CC Sabathia, in a seven-year net worth $161 million.

The Original Evil Empire is also rumored to be trying to trade for Mike Cameron and his $10 million a year price tag.

Oh, and it's the front-runner to land AJ Burnett for five years and $85 million.

For good measure, Brian Cashman is going to (re-)sign either Andy Pettitte, Derek Lowe, or Ben Sheets by all accounts.

Meanwhile, the Evil Empire II is supposedly about to land free-agency's other white whale - Mark Teixeira - for somewhere between six and 10 years at $20 million per.

Then there's the Mid-Evil Empire, the National League's version. The Mets have signed Francisco Rodriguez for three years and $37 million.

They just traded for JJ Putz, who will get $5 million in 2009 to set up for K-Rod. Plus, the Seattle Mariners threw in Jeremy Reed (who I remember as being a top prospect and is entering his prime) as change.

Further whispers indicate that Juan Pierre ($10 million/year) may be in a Mets' uni before the dust settles.

Finally, the Bums have apparently been the first to fall prey to Scott Boras' predatory tactics. They seem to be in the process of offering Manny Ramirez a third year's worth of opportunities to become a giant headache.

Even if those rumors don't pan out, you can bet others of equally bloated value will replace them. These teams are going to be adding tens of millions of dollars to their annual payrolls before the new season starts. In an economic recession.

That's one edge of the sword. The other can be found looking again at those names.

Sabathia defected from the Milwaukee Brewers. Sheets figures to do the same. Seattle sent Putz packing and Milwaukee might do the same with Cameron. Burnett seems destined for a double-whammy - being signed from the jaws of the Atlanta Braves by deeper pockets while defecting from the Toronto Blue Jays.

K-Rod, Tex, Pierre, and Lowe would all be leaving bigguns yet still managing to transfer wealth (at least on paper) in the wrong direction.

Oh, and this particular sword has a third edge. Again, return to the names.

These men are all getting significant pay increases of millions and millions of dollars. Already the aristocracy of MLB's Millionaires' Club, they are getting raises while the rest of the country loses jobs by the hundreds.

And nobody should have expected anything different.

You don't have to look long or hard through the pages of history to find stories of substantial fortunes growing to transgenerational empires in the space of a recession. Or a plague. Or a cataclysmic war.

I'm not saying this is wrong; it's usually a legitimate reward for foresight and diligence.

But that doesn't mean I have to like it. Especially in baseball.

1 comment:

Mberenis said...

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