The $75m Club
If history tells us anything, it is that big contracts to pitchers typically do not have a good ending. However, it would be silly to just make a blanket statement about every single contract and lump them into one big stinking pile of bad contracts, which is what plenty of people try and do when judging the monstrous amount of money the Mets threw at Johan.
Player Club Years TotalThe detractors and jealous Yankee fans might be quick to point out these history of these types of signings, but how they are even comparable is beyond me.
Johan Santana NYM 2008-13 $137.5m
Barry Zito SF 2007-13 $126m
Mike Hampton Col-Fl-Atl 2001-08 $121m
Kevin Brown LA-NYY 1999-05 $105m
Carlos Zambrano Cubs 2008-12 $91.5m
Mike Mussina NYY 2001-06 $88.5m
Pedro Martinez Bos 1998-03 $75m
Chan Ho Park Tex 2002-06 $75m
1) Barry Zito: He was looking like he was in decline already and relied on a mid-80's fastball and 12-6 curveball. Should that ever be worth $126m? I mean, the Mets $75m bid was too much in retrospect much less the Giants offer. He had an ERA+ of 101, 113, and 116 leading up to that contract and his durability is worth something, but a bit less than what the Mets were offering. Zito was still living off his tremendous 2002 season and very good 2001 and 2003 seasons.
2) Mike Hampton: People forget how good he was in the two years leading up to this contract. He was at the right age and was a tremendous athlete and you could really tell how athletic he was by the way he fielded his position. He might be the closest comp to Johan's current situation, but Colorado is not Queens. Hampton just picked the wrong city (he loved the schools?!?!?!?!?!), which is too bad for him. He was primed to become the elite lefty in the National League.
3) Kevin Brown: When he was given this contract, he was in his mid-30's. That is a desperate move bereft of intelligence. He was really, really good. However, that big of a contract to any pitcher in their mid-30's is a tremendous risk.
4) Carlos Zambrano: This one has not been a bust or good just yet. However, I am quite optimistic this one will work out.
5) Mike Mussina: For one, Johan will have three years of prime time pitching under his belt before he even gets to the age Mussina was when he entered the first year of this contract. Second, Mussina ain't no Johan. While Mussina was very good and some people will argue a borderline Hall of Fame candidate, he is not an elite pitcher. He was a very, very good pitcher for a long time and did give the Yankees their money's worth for a few years before falling apart.
6) Pedro Martinez: He had a tasty ERA+ of 163, 243, 291, 189, 202, and 210 from '98 to '03. I think it is safe to say that worked out quite well for the Red Sox. He was 26 when he inked that deal and was actually quite good through age 33 before breaking down and needing surgery. Johan is inked for ages 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, and 34. Given his history and fastball/change repertoire vs. relying the majority of time on more stressful pitches, I like Johan's chances of replicating Pedro's dominance through similar ages.
7) Chan Ho Park: ERA+ from 1996 through 2001....107, 115, 108, 82, 133, and 113. If anyone thinks he was worth that much money, stand up now. Right. No one. That was a desperation move made because A-Rod was in the fold. The Rangers needed and ace and falsely thought Park was one. It is not that Park was bad, he had one really good year and quite a few above average ones, but that is not worth $15m per season by any stretch of the imagination.
There are only three comparable signings listed above. Pedro, Hampton, and Big Z. All were elite pitchers at the time they signed and were inked to huge deals. The rest are irrelevant and not very good comparisons at all. You could toss Oswalt's $73 million deal that began in 2007 into the mix, but that is too early to tell just yet either. So far though, it looks like a good deal because Oswalt was back and kicking some ass in 2007.
Anyone quick to judge this deal via comparisons between other huge paydays for pitchers are really stretching things. When you compare Johan to pitchers of similar age and pitching stature, things do not look as risky than if you wanted to just broadly look at every deal $75m+, which just proves futile for obvious reasons. Johan is as good as any pitcher to bet on for making a six year mega deal worth every penny.
Pedro also said he is looking for a three year deal maximum after this year. I would assume no one takes that chance, but two years seems more likely or a one year with an easily attainable vesting option if his pickings are slim. For me, he screams Greg Maddux. I see them following the same type of path which allows them to be pretty damn good for however long they want to lace them up. I would not put it past Pedro to rack up 45 wins in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
"He hasn't got in shape, but we're going to keep stockpiling as many arms as we can," said Ricciardi. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained. We're not looking for a closer."
Wow. Sounds encouraging for Benitez.
"I got to see him a couple of years ago, so it's not like he was completely foreign to me," Randolph said. "He's always had the talent, so it's nothing [that] really surprised me. He's consistent right now and playing well. His athleticism is what jumps out at you, because he does a lot of things for you. I wouldn't say I'm surprised. It's been a couple of years since I've seen him, and he's matured a little bit."
In a related note, the Mets are eyeing Stewart and Reed Johnson.
Let Church play! Let Church play! Let Church play!
Labels: johan santana