Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Something to Root For

The latest in the Joe Mauer contract extension situation is that nothing is imminent. This is too bad, as a few days ago, reports were saying that Mauer and the Minnesota Twins were close to signing a 10-year contract extension. Count me into the legions who think this is good for baseball if it happens. I mean, Peter Abraham already said almost everything there is to say about it:

-It's good that a small-market team is close to signing a big player instead of the player jumping ship upon free agency to go to a big-market team on the East Coast.
-It's a very important thing for the Twins to do, because if this St. Paul native leaves, there is probably no reason for the team to even exist anymore. This guy is more "face of the franchise" than San Diego native Adrian Gonzalez is to the Padres. They are making more pushes to actually spend some money to look like a legitimate franchise as of late. They signed Justin Morneau to a long-term deal and they invested in a new stadium to open next year.

Going a little bit further, here are two more key observations to think about:

-This move may at least slow the momentum of the disturbing trend of the minor league-ization of small-market teams. It's become pretty clear that a lot of the small market teams are in essence becoming farm teams for teams like Boston, New York, LA, Philadelphia, etc. Johnny Damon went from the AA Royals to the AAA Athletics to the MLB Red Sox. Big acquisions for the Royals nowadays are Gil Meche and Coco Crisp. People are waiting for Carl Crawford to hit free agency and they've been talking about him leaving Tampa Bay for a big-market team forever. Some of the dumber baseball fans just think that San Diego will give away Gonzalez. And the same can be said for the Twins. They're a minor league system producing guys like Mauer and Santana, who will go to the big market teams once they're free. Mauer (and Morneau) sticking around shows that Minnesota is committed to winning instead of being a farm team. I had previously criticized this organization for being a farm team by offering Santana instead of going for a championship in the last year of his contract.

-This also might continue a trend that Major League Baseball, either intentionally or unintentionally, is starting to head back to a team spending the majority of his career with one team. Teams are understanding the free agent market better and many are shying away from free agents, instead trying to keep labor costs lower (I didn't say low) and preventing their franchise players from hitting free agency in the first place. Another big aspect of this trend is St. Louis's efforts to keep Albert Pujols in a Cardinals uniform. But it seems like there are fewer players jumping from team to team, and I think this is good for baseball, as fans of teams can start to become fans of players again, too.

5 comments:

Jeanned said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

DV

Red Sox fans are generally pretty savvy. That being said, I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that Joe Mauer signing long-term in Minnesota is good....for the Red Sox. And that's why you hear all this "good for baseball" stuff out of the Globe. Sure, it's good for the 'purity of the game' and all that, but every Sox fan knows that if Mauer is a free agent there's no question where he'll end up. The Sox will offer two hundred million dollars. The Yankees would offer 300 million dollars and that would be that. If he stays in Minnesota, it's basically harmless. He goes to New York and it's lights out.

--the Gunn

The GM said...

What do you mean? Posada's like the new Coke: He'll be around forever.

Anonymous said...

Mauer going to the Yankees would be bad for baseball, almost as much as Lebron going to the Knicks would be bad for basketball.

bandi

The GM said...

One more thing I forgot to say about moves like this: It still becomes a concern for a team like the Twins to sign a player like Mauer because their funds are reasonably limited. If they sign Mauer for, say $250m, they really do not have that much free cash to sign other players. For ten years. And as you could see from looking at Tom Hicks and the Rangers after they signed the centaur in 2001, they surrounded the centaur with some really terrible players and the team sat in last place.

That may be the most significant risk to a small-market team "locking up" a franchise player for so long.