The Bourn Ultimatum: Baseball Is Entering Another Winter of Ridiculous Contracts

by Kolby Solinsky
Editor, White Cover Magazine

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Baseball is entering yet another winter of inflated contracts, long-term (soon-to-be) busts, and a whole lot of “What Were They Thinking?”

Take even the biggest of the best who will be available, as Josh Hamilton and Zach Greinke are both in line for new contracts coming out of their most recent stints with Texas and Anaheim, respectively. The best hitter in the game over the past five seasons and a pitcher of the same requirement, depending on your taste for Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, C.C. Sabathia, or any of the usual suspects.

While both deserve some kind of substantial compensation, neither Hamilton or Greinke are worth what they undoubtedly will get.

I’m not talking about the money. That’s in the hands of the owners.

It’s the term that’s troubling.

An aging and decaying Albert Pujols got a 10-year guaranteed contract with Anaheim last December, and it’s now evident and obvious that won’t be worth the time or the dough the Angels have coughed up and are now on the hook for.

Ask Toronto how that Vernon Wells thing worked out for them.

Even Pujols’ long-time manager Tony La Russa said he would have never paid the man that kind of money over that length of time.

To be fair to Albert, Tony just doesn’t like long-term deals.

So, Greinke and Hamilton will clean-up, much like Prince Fielder. Will they win? That doesn’t seem to be important anymore.

But, what about the others?

Michael Bourn is apparently demanding $100 million after a year of .274, nine home runs, 57 RBI, and 42 steals. Okay, wait… is there something else? Michael Bourn wants $100 million because he can run fast?

His hitting isn’t terrible, but have we all forgotten what $100 million means, and what it can do to your franchise if it’s spent correctly?

What if Bourn gets 10 years or $100 million (take your pick, because they’re both terrible) and this last season – his best so far, statistically – remains his best? Ever.

This is why players – across any sport, field, or stadium – shouldn’t be just rewarded for a good year. They should be paid for the years to come. This seems obvious, but owners and general managers don’t follow the rule.

They wouldn’t buy stocks when they’re high, so why buy players when they’re about to drop.

The answer, of course, is that they’re afraid to miss out on profits. They’re afraid to fall behind. So, they spend themselves into the ground.

Who knew in 2002 that the Angels would make the Yankees look financially conservative?

Take a look at this year’s other candidates:

Marco Scutaro, who will most certainly be honoured for a terrific World Series but can’t possibly live up to that hype because, well, he’s never done it before.

B.J. Upton, who is sooooooooo 2008.

Ryan Dempster, whose candidacy for a big money deal should be put on terminal hold. He did turn his early struggles around with Texas, but Dempster is no Whitey Ford, so he shouldn’t be paid like it.

Ichiro played well, but is aging and is now a role player.

Justin Morneau is as injury prone as Seabiscuit.

Cliff Lee and Shane Victorino are attractive names, but remnants of the past.

All in all, you’re going to see tow of the best players in baseball paid handsomely, and the rest sucking up their tail winds for profit. Because, hey, this is sports. If you thought it was about winning, you don’t know the game.