I decided to take the week off from recapping the drafts. The series will continue on Monday with the 1993 draft, which features a HUGE number one pick. Instead, I’d like to try to make the case for what many believe is the most ludicrous signing of the off-season to this point. In case you’ve been living under a rock, former Cub, Gary Mathews Jr. was signed by the Angels to a deal worth $50 million over the span of five years. Just about everywhere I read, people are up in arms about this signing. Can it really be that bad? I say no, and i’m going to make my case.
Reason # 1 – The Free Agent Market Got Inflated
Blame whoever you want on this one (Jim Hendry), but the fact of the matter is, with the signing of Alfonso Soriano early in the off-season, the tone was set and there was no going back. The Angels got it in their head that they needed a CF. With Soriano, not a proven CF anyway, off the market, it left Juan Pierre, Gary Mathews or some old farts like Dave Roberts and Kenny Lofton. Pierre and is not an upgrade and neither are the other old men. Mathews, assuming he duplicates the numbers he put up last year fills the need the Angels want to fill. I’m sure $10 million per season is not ideal for them, but when Soriano falls early, what other price can you expect to pay? The bar was already set.
Reason # 2 – Free Agency is Better than Plan B
Yes, the Angels did have a plan B. All last season, the Angels made no secret that they were in the market for a “top notch” outfielder. The biggest names on their list were Carl Crawford and Miguel Cabrera. They were prepared to deal a huge package of talent to get one of those guys. Luckily for the Angels, no one took them up on the offers that were floating around the rumor mill. One of the biggest rumors I heard was the following:
Ervin Santana – SP
Scot Shields – MR
Brandon Wood – SS
For Carl Crawford or Miguel Cabrera.
For those of you who don’t follow the minor leagues, Brandon Wood is a MAJOR prospect. In 2005 playing for high A ball, Rancho Cucamonga, Wood put up monster numbers:
43 HR with 115 RBI and averages of .321 / .383 / 1.055
When you have a SS prospect putting up those kind of numbers, you DO NOT offer him in any kind of deal. By going out and getting an OF like Mathews via free agency, rather than dealing guys like Wood and Santana, you assure yourself of a future, even if your $50 million investment turns out to be a bust. What do you think?