After taking each NL division a day a time, I’m going to try to wrap up my look at the Mike Hampton Rule with one final post. I’m also going to scale back my breathtaking commentary and pretty much just list the representative and other candidates.
Other Candidates: Aubrey Huff. $16 million through 2009, but at least he’s the starter. Melvin Mora. At least $17 million (plus an option buyout) over the next two seasons to hope a 36 year-old third baseman reverses his decline.
Boston Red Sox
Other Candidate: JD Drew. He’s rebounded from an off-season before (2002), but Sox need to hope last year was another aberration. He’s signed through 2011 with $56 million remaining (although there are some creative ways the Sox can end the contract sooner based on injuries).
New York Yankees
Hampton Ruler: Johnny Damon. $13 million a year through 2009 is too much for a relatively weak hitting corner OF.
Other Candidates: So many to choose from. Jason Giambi. His contract finally ends after this season, but he’s being paid $21 million to split time as a poor fielding 1B, a DH, and a pinch hitter. Hideki Matsui. Same contract as Damon. A better hitter, but not as good in the field. Looking to spend a lot of time at DH or on the bench. Jorge Posada. Hoping he manages to keep drinking from the Fountain of Youth as his new 4 year / $52 million dollar deal could go south in a hurry. Alex Rodriguez. Too early to worry now, but those years in his late 30′s could be ugly. Carl Pavano. Contract ends this year, but I’d just want to get rid of the reminder of how bad that contract has been – so far $27 million over 3 years for 113 total innings pitched at a below average ERA.
Tampa Bay Rays
Hampton Ruler: This is a tough one. I don’t know. Cliff Floyd? A one year deal at $3 million doesn’t seem like anything to get too worked up over.
Other Candidate: Carlos Pena. Amazing season in 2007. Always had the potential, but the 3 year / $24 million deal could be pretty bad if he can’t repeat.
Toronto Blue Jays
Hampton Ruler: Vernon Wells. Wells has had two great seasons (2003 and 2006), a bunch of good seasons, and then there was last year. His contract is actually set up really, really nicely for Toronto (they’re only paying him $500 thousand this season), but he’s still entitled to $126 million over the next 7 years. I’m not sure I’d want to be risking that much money on an aging CF who is good but not great.
Other Candidates: BJ Ryan. It all depends on how he comes back from Tommy John surgery. Great before he went under the knife, but will he be worth the 3 years and $30 million remaining on his deal? Scott Rolen. Again, a lot depends on his health, and how happy he is to be away from Tony LaRussa
Chicago White Sox
Hampton Ruler: Paul Konerko. Signed as a World Series hero after 2005 for $12 million a season, he’s under the Sox control until 2010. He’s now on the wrong side of 30, a poor fielding 1B, and he lost 90 points of OPS last season. He might rebound this s
Hampton Ruler: Jake Westbrook. $11 million a year for 3 years is a little steep for a third starter. That’s not entirely fair, since he’d be the two on a number of teams, but the Indians didn’t give me a whole lot to go on.
Other Candidate: As much as it pains me to say it, Travis Hafner. Hafner has always had trouble staying healthy while hitting the snot out of the ball. Last year, he managed to stay in the lineup all season but slumped tremendously offensively. He’s also on the wrong side of 30 and just signed a new 4 year / $57 million deal. If he can return to being arguably the best pure hitter in the AL, then it’s money well spent. But if he repeats last year, the contract could quickly become an albatross.
Hampton Ruler: Carlos Guillen. With the acquisition of Edgar Renteria, Guillen moves from being a plus offensive shortstop (although nearly Jeteriffic defensively) to being an average to slightly below average first baseman (although he should be much better defensively). For the $48 million the Tigers are paying him over the next four years, they could probably do better.
Other Candidate: Dontrelle Willis. He’s owed $29 million over the next three years under the hopes the magic isn’t gone and two straight years of precipitous decline reverse themselves.
Hampton Ruler: Jose Guillen. I know the Royals just signed him, but they’re obviously expecting a whole lot more than I am. He’s an average or slightly above average corner OF with occasional attitude problems who will be pulling in $12 million a year for the next three years. Some of that is probably a KC premium, but he’ll still be hard pressed to carry his weight. Of course I had the same thoughts about Gil Meche last year and so far that’s turned out okay (so far…).
Hampton Ruler: Justin Morneau. Morneau is a pretty good young first baseman. He obviously won the MVP in 2006 and should have legitimately been in the conversation (although I would have put Jeter and Sizemore above him, and maybe Ortiz). But he hasn’t consistently demonstrated that he’s worth the $80 million he’ll be getting over the next 6 years. I’m pretty sure there were external marketing factors that increase Morneau’s value, but if I were Bill Smith, I would have upped my offer to Johan Santana and passed on Morneau.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Hampton Ruler: Gary Matthews Jr. Little Sarge rode one good year (and one amazing catch) to a 5 year / $50 million contract that runs through 2011. Unfortunately for the Angels, he did so well last year (93 OPS+ and arguably the worst CF in the league defensively) that they decided to sign Torii Hunter. $10 million a year is a whole lot to pay your 4th OF.
Other Candidate: Torii Hunter. While he’s better than Matthews, he’s also a lot more expensive. Coming off a career year offensively, Hunter signed a 5 year / $90 million deal that will take him through his mid-30s. A lot of Hunter’s value is in his defense, which has appeared to slip slightly the last few seasons, and will likely continue to as he ages and slows. If he has to move to a corner before the contract is up, it looks a lot worse for the Angels.
Hampton Ruler: Eric Chavez. The last of the big name holdouts from the Moneyball teams of the early part of the decade, Chavez’s game has been ravaged by injuries. He’s got $34 million left over the next 3 seasons, which will likely only be worth the money if he stays healthy AND rebounds some offensively. An interesting thing to keep watch on is that Chavez becomes a 10/5 player towards the end of the season. I wonder if Beane will try to move him if he comes out well to start the season.
Hampton Ruler: Richie Sexson. Sexson’s only got one year remaining on his contract at $14 million, but he was bad enough last year (84 OPS+) that I’m sure the Mariners’ fans would love to be rid of him.
Other Candidate: Ichiro Suzuki. You might not think so, but when his hitless streak (0-21 as of last night) continues all season, you’ll change your tune.
Hampton Ruler: Vincente Padilla. A lot of people were wondering why Padilla got a 3 year / $33.75 million dollar deal after 2006 (102 ERA+). After 2007, Jon Daniels is probably among those people wondering why.
Other Candidate: Kevin Milwood. Milwood has never consistently been the great pitcher people were expecting after his 167 ERA+ age 24 season in 1999. He’s had a couple of other good to great seasons, but has mixed in his fair share of stinkers. Last year was his worst of all, and Texas has to worry that might continue since they owe him $31.5 million more over the next three seasons (although they can void the deal after 2009 if Milwood doesn’t pitch enough innings).