Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Egads, that's a lot of money

I suppose I could make an attempt at a quasi-gloat, seeing as how the Giants signed the exact pitcher that I was thinking they would and should back in October.

Instead, I'll go for a wince. Of consternation. And a little hand-wringing, too.

Three years is the length of the contract given to former St. Louis Cardinals starter Matt Morris, which is a length I fully expected.

Twenty-seven million dollars is the value of the guaranteed portion of the contract given to Mr. Morris, which is a number I would've thought possible over a three-year span, but also would've thought silly.

I wanted Morris in the starting rotation, but methinks that salary figure is just too much. Did the Giants and Brian Sabean have much choice? Probably not, but we've seen how much Sabean covets proven veterans, "winners", and their ilk. He simply overpays veterans whenever possible, although whether that's because of a lack of negotiating skills, market pressures, or other circumstances is beyond my feeble ability to ascertain.

But while Morris was the "best of the rest" of the starters on the market not named Kevin Millwood or A.J. Burnett (which reminds me...Toronto!? What the heck is Burnett doing going to...nevermind), he just isn't worth nine million per year. His contract is valued at about three and a half times the annual salary Brett Tomko made last season, yet Morris isn't anywhere close to three and a half times as good. Better, yes, but is he going to give the Giants an extra 6.5 million worth of pitching over Tomko? No, not unless he duplicates his 2001 Cy Young, which saw him run up 7.7 k's per nine innings, a 2.01 g/f ratio, and a .685 OPS against, all of which are fantastic numbers, and none of which are numbers he came close to duplicating in his last two seasons pitched.

But, will he help? Yes, I don't think there's much doubt he adds stability to the rotation, which could run into potential issues with the youth and inexperience of Noah Lowry and Matt Cain, a possible skills decline in Jason Schmidt, and a fifth spot that has yet to be determined. I can see Morris being a rock of consistency in the rotation at the third spot. I can also see him experiencing a bit of a resurgence in SBC/Mays Field, as the left-handed lineups many opposing managers will throw at him should have trouble taking him deep -- most of Morris' pitching history has seen him give up few long balls (with the notable exception of 2004), and with him now in a park that kills most left-handed hitters chances of hitting home runs, I expect to see him continue that habit.

Interesting to note that as the Giants part ways with J.T. Snow and his Gold-Glove defense at 1st base, they bring in a pitcher who will end up having a lot of ground balls head to the right side of the infield. Not to say this was a good enough reason to bring Snow back, but...well, the platoon combo of Lance Niekro and Mark Sweeney had better hit enough to make up for the loss in defense, at the least.

So, with this large contract done, one can't help but think the Giants are all but done making any kind of major changes in their roster. I'm assuming they don't really have any money left after signing Morris, so big names are out. I'm expecting perhaps one more relief pitcher's name to pop up (who I'm assuming will be over 35 years old), and a 4th outfielder of some sort. I don't rule out another starter to take the 5th spot, but I tend to think that the job will end up falling to Brad Hennessey in some way, shape or form.

Take care, all.


Ed said...

Sure that's a lot of money but not too bad when you put it in context with what other free agent pitchers, particularly middle relievers, are getting.

I prefer to focus on the positives, salary-wise. For example, next year there will be no Edgardo Alfonzo to pay. See, you feel better already.

Ed said...

Next year meaning 2007, of course.

Anonymous said...

Good point on the money relative to availability, although what a coup if the G's could ink Millwood too. Not likely, but I can dream!