DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 21: Ubaldo Jimenez #30 of...

Take a deep breath and relax.

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 6: Troy Tulowitzki #2 of ...

And in this corner, at 6'3" and 215 pounds ...

A lazy day of spring training was livened up a bit when Ubaldo Jimenez of the Indians intentionally threw at Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, clearing the benches and getting himself a five game suspension.

There has been a lot of tension between Jimenez and the Rockies this season.  The beef that Jimenez seems to have with the team is that Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez signed big extensions following the 2010 season, while the team made no move to extend Jimenez.  Why didn’t the Rockies offer Jimenez an extension?  Because they already had him under team control through 2014.

At the time he signed the deal (January 2009), these were Ubaldo’s thoughts on the subject:

That means a lot, that they’ve put a lot of trust in me, and I’m not going to let them down.

Sounds like he was pretty happy with the deal at the time, right?  Sure, he’d had a monster season in 2010 (fueled by a 15-1 start, which included a no-hitter) and perhaps rightly felt that he had outperformed the contract, but the Rockies had taken a risk by signing him to the deal before he had really proven much at the major league level.  At the time of the deal, Jimenez had a career record of 16-16 and a career ERA of 4.06.

Additionally, pitchers are more injury prone than position players, and pitchers for the Rockies are going to throw more pitches per inning than pitchers in other parks, because the park is very hitter friendly (and hits extend innings).  Considering that baseball contracts, unlike contracts in other sports, are guaranteed money, it’s risky to extend a pitcher too many years into the future, especially when he’s still under contract for several years.

Is he upset about being traded?  Seriously, how could the Rockies turn down a deal that included Drew Pomeranz and other pieces.  Pomeranz has the upside of Jimenez and is younger (cheaper).  The small market Rockies are often looking for cost efficiencies.

I like Ubaldo, but he really needs to put this in the past and move forward.

More big contracts

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Matt Cai...

Actually, the Giants are paying for Matt Cain's arm.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 14:  Closer Francisco C...

Nah, man. I can pick up the tab for dinner. No worries, mate.

Spring training has served as a late Christmas for a some players.  Just yesterday, teams spent $350 million on players, with the Giants locking up pitcher Matt Cain for six years at a cost of $127.5 million and the Reds extended first baseman Joey Votto through the 2023 season with a ten year deal worth $225 million.  Cain’s deal has a vesting option (which turns into a team option if it doesn’t vest) that could push the deal to $141.5 million over seven years.

I’d like to point out the fact that Matt Cain’s career record is 69-73, and he has never won more than 13 games in a season.  I’d also like to point out the fact that win/loss record is a horrible stat to use when judging pitchers, and applaud the Giants for completely ignoring it in this case.  In 2007, for example, Cain went 7-16 for the Giants … but had a quite good 3.65 ERA and hit 200 innings – as a 22 year old.

Votto’s the third first basemen to notch a $200 million deal in recent months, following in the footsteps of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder.  Unlike Pujols and Fielder, Votto opted to remain with the team that drafted him.  Votto still has two years left on his current deal ($9 million this year and $17 million in 2013), so the new deals kick in for the 2014 season.  He’ll be 40 years old at the end of the contract.

I think Votto’s a relatively safe risk, as first baseman are less prone to injury than other position players (they don’t run long distances to field balls, nor are they often involved in collisions with baserunners).  However, I think it would make some sense to add easily-reached vesting options to protect against severely diminished skills or career-ending injuries (although teams often have disability insurance for injuries).  Set it up so that the option vests if the player gets 200 at bats in te previous season.

The Dodgers

Frank McCourt at New York City's Housing Works...

Not this Frank McCourt

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 14:  Los Angeles Dodge...

This is the guy.

The long, drawn out saga of Frank McCourt seems to be drawing to an end.  A group that includes NBA great Magic Johnson is going to buy the Dodgers for more than $2 billion, the highest price ever for a sports franchise.  McCourt will retain some rights to the parking lots, but will not receive parking-related revenue (this was a major issue).  McCourt paid $421 million for the team in 2004, so he should reap a tidy profit (even after using some of the cash toward his divorce settlement).

Why so much money?  Television rights.  Currently, Fox pays $38 million per season for the rights to televise Dodgers games.  That deal expires after the 2013 season, and the price is going to go through the roof.  How much do the Dodgers stand to gain from TV rights?  Well, the cross-town Angels recently signed a deal that will pay the team $3 billion over the next twenty years.

I’m actually a bit disappointed to see the Dodgers messed cleaned up.  The longer it lingered, the more it helped the other teams in the Dodgers’ division – including my Rockies.

 

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Kosmo is the founder of The Soap Boxers and writes on a variety of topics. Many of his short stories have been collected into Kindle books.

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