Among the reasons given in defense of the front office over what many, including myself, have deemed a rather disappointing off-season is that the budget didn’t allow us to add a player like Matt Holliday lest we be unable to sign players like Howie Kendrick or Eric Aybar in the future. While I understand the reasoning behind this, I believe there is a part of the equation people are leaving out, on both sides: Spending the money WISELY.
The debacle that was our CF for years is the perfect example of how not spending money wisely can come back to bite you in the ass a few years down the line. Instead of giving Carlos Beltran the money and years he wanted, we decided to go with the almost-as-old-as-our-GM Steve Finley, who bombed almost right away. Realizing our mistake, we threw even more money at Gary Matthews Jr., and I’m sure I don’t need to tell anyone reading this how fantastic that turned out for us. Finally, we decided to hand Torii Hunter a boat load of money so we’d actually have a viable, productive CFer. Let’s examine the math behind all this.
Carlos Beltran signed for 7 years and $119 million. A huge contract, right? Keep those numbers in mind.
Steve Finley signed for 2 years and $14 million. So far, the Angels have saved $105 million.
Gary Matthews Jr was signed for 5 years and $50 million. Our savings is now down to $55 million.
Finally, Torii Hunter signed for 5 years and $90 million. Our savings have now turned into a loss of $35 million. Take a moment and think about that.
Because the Angels decided they didn’t want to pay one of the single best CFers in the game at the time, they’ve spent an extra $35 million dollars, money that could also be used to sign players like Aybar and Kendrick, and they’ve missed out on the amazing production Beltran has produced, instead replacing that with the negative value of both Finley and Matthews. Only Hunter, three years later, has given them positive production in CF, and that’s with his declining fielding.
Also to note, when Beltran’s contract expires he will be 34 years old. When Hunter’s contract expires, he will be 37 years old. Both are very likely to be in their decline phase, but the chances that Hunter is producing at a higher level than Beltran despite being three years older are pretty slim. So, when all is said and done, we’ve ended up spending an extra $35 million for a CFer that is three years older, and has never produced at the level Beltran has during his time with the Mets. Ever.
None of this is to say the Angels should buy every free agent that comes on the market and there should be no budget. But when a player that has positive value on both sides of the ball is available, and he’s still young, it’d be foolish not to sign him, and it just may cost us in the long run. We’ve clearly paid for it, in both money and production (imagine the 2005 ALCS against the White Sox with Carlos Beltran taking Steve Finley’s at-bats) by not signing Beltran. Now, we just have to hope we don’t see the same mistake by passing on a player like Matt Holliday.
Next time someone says that we should’ve signed a player, take a moment to think about the potential impact of not signing that player before you tell them to go root for the Yankees. Things aren’t always as simple as they first seem.