Mets Strive To Be Oldest Team In League; Cubs Seek Expensive Mediocrity

Echoing Tim’s comments below, what the H is going on in baseball these days? And not just the ridiculous contracts being dished out (Ted Lilly is a $10 Million a year pitcher? Wow, I must have missed, like, his whole career). No, you can look at two teams and see some really things going on.

For one, we have the Mets, everybody’s favorite punching bag when it comes to poor front office decisions. From trading away Nolan Ryan 35 years ago to signing fat-ass Mo Vaughn, the Mets front offices always make curious decisions. Granted, the current front-office got within a win of the World Series and the previous front office (Steve Phillips) is now a baseball “analyst” on ESPN.

But this past week, the Mets signed 40-year-old Tom Glavine and 40-year-old Moises Alou to go along with Orlando Hernandez (37, if he’s not lying), Jose Valentin (37), Shawn Green (34), Billy Wagner (35), Damion Easley (37), Carlos Delgado (34), Lo Duca (34), Pedro (34, with an arm that’s 44) and, of course, everybody’s favorite baseball human interest story, 48-year-old Julio Franco. Julio may indeed be in shape but he can’t really play the game anymore. At some point, no matter how dedicated you are, you lose bat speed. This is the same reason Rickey Henderson stopped playing. He didn’t want to stop, but he couldn’t hit over .235 anymore and no team wanted him.

Anyway, the point is… what are the Mets doing? This team came close to winning it all and I understand adding some veterans to put a team over the top but it looks more like Omar Minaya wants some chess partners or something. The Mets are so close to being able to rule the National League and here they are signing guys in their 40s. Although, hey, it’s not like Brian Cashman doesn’t do the same thing across town.

As for the Cubbies, I don’t get this. They throw tons of money at Ted Lilly, Julio Lugo, Alfonso Soriano, Mark DeRosa, Randy Wolf…Why? Are they trying to be the highest-priced third-place team ever? They don’t have anyone on this team who you could legitimately say is worth the money, with the possible exception of Aramis Ramirez. And even if they made some noise in the weak NL Central, everyone who has ever seen Soriano hit knows the book on him is very, very simple: He can kill bad pitching and crushes fastballs but good pitching will eat him up. He’s a terrible postseason career hitter and isn’t going to get better because he doesn’t listen to coaches and just goes up there swinging. His raw talent has earned him this contract but we’ve been talking about his raw talent since he came into the league.

And speaking of Soriano, the $136 million man, do you know that his first full season was 2001 and in the six seasons he’s played, he has only driven in 100 runs twice? And one of them was NOT this past season? And that he’s hit .300 once, and that was back in 2002 in the Yankees protected lineup? And that his career on-base percentage is pretty poor, at .325? Oh, Lou Pinella’s gonna love him.

And since I’m bashing Cubs free agents, let’s take on the easiest one to bash: Mr. Lilly, manager fighter in 2005. Ted must feel like he hit the frickin’ lottery. $10 million a year?? For four years?? Before this past season, when Ted sizzled with a 15-12 record and a 4.31 ERA, he’d never won more than twelve games in a season. And yes, he’s been a starter all six of his years in the big leagues. One time he’s had an ERA under 4.00 and while I know that’s not the best way to measure pitchers, it’s certainly not a good sign that he rarely pitches strong, dominating games. Am I being harsh on Ted? No, not if he’s your #4 or 5 starter. But at $10 million a year, I imagine he’s going to be expected to be better than that. Oh, and in 2005 he went 10-11 with a 5.56 ERA and opponents his .272 off of him. .272!! That’s, uh, horrible.

Have fun, Cubs fans. Ted Lilly will probably give you lots of souvenirs in the bleachers – his last four seasons playing in Toronto, he’s given up home run totals of 24, 26, 23 and 28. What a bargain.

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