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Mariotti puts down the doughnut to...

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Credit goes to Andy Dolan's Desipio Media Ventures for the headline. He often links to Mariotti's articles in the above manner.

Frankly, the headline for this entry should be: The Pilfered Post. Not only is the headline a rip off, but so is the reason I wrote what I did.

While I did write the rambling text below, I wrote it in response to Joe Aiello's opinion solicitation at View From the Bleachers... which asked readers to opine about Mariotti's latest column. (The Cliff's note version of this entry was originally a comment responding to Joe's post.)

Excerpt from: Suddenly, Cubs can't live without Sosa
By Jay Mariotti, Chicago Sun-Times, Jan 11, 2005

It's hard to dump diapers, toxic waste and used-car batteries. But never, ever did I think the Cubs couldn't dump Sammy Sosa. They continue to try doggedly, only four weeks before pitchers and catchers report in Arizona, but chances are much better of the players inviting The Evil Stoney to their first Scottsdale drinking session.

This is an abject failure for Andy MacPhail and Jim Hendry, who couldn't scrub and polish the grime and pawn Sosa to the dumbest sucker available. Of course, if they hadn't made a monstrous public episode of his quit fit on the final day of the season and slapped him with an $87,400 fine, they wouldn't have had such difficulty answering the most common question in trade talks: Why is Sammy such a shammy?

How sad -- and symbolic of Sosa's demise -- that not one major-league team has been willing to gamble he'll stay healthy, avoid controversy and hit 40 home runs.


There was a time when I thought they'd be better off cutting him loose -- even at the $21.5 million walkaway price -- rather than retaining his pouting, sneezing, boom-boxing, swinging-and-missing puss in 2005. But that was contingent on the Tribune Co. noticing what the Boston Red Sox did last season, spending well over $100 million of their bloated baseball profits and chasing a quality hitter or two who would cushion Sosa's departure. Unless you're counting Henry Blanco, your backup catcher, the Cubs haven't acquired anyone.

So, Mariotti's column assumes the Cubs want to get rid of Sosa at all costs. But, what if you modify that assumption? Lets try: "The Cubs would like to move Sosa, but not if that deal requires them to receive significantly less return value and/or take on millions of additional dollars."

Now, I think Mariotti's article looks a little petty.

The Cubs haven't moved Sosa because the other team would need to take on $35 million for a fading, one-dimensional slugger. (The option year of his contract automatically vests if traded.)

In order for the Cubs to trade Sosa, they will have to take on $35 million of bad contract or they could keep him and possibly get a pissed off home run hitting Sammy for only $21.5 million ($17 million in 2005 plus a $4.5 million buyout in 2006).

So as Jim Hendry sees it, he can pay $21.5 million he doesn't want to, or $35 million he doesn't want to. Furthermore, if he chooses the $35 million option he may get significantly less output from the players he receives (think Todd Hundley trade, only with the Cubs getting the short end of the stick instead of a division title.)

Frankly, Sammy has got a better potential upside for next year than any of the players that I have seen mentioned in the rumors, and I applaud Hendry for refusing to make a knee jerk decision, potentially wasting Cubs dollars (and an opportunity to win) in the process.

Finally, something that is even more scarce than wins is starting position player slots. Trading Sosa for a player with a bad, long term, contract who will be around for several more years (read: Mike Cameron or Cliff Floyd) will hurt the team's ability to compete for more years than keeping Sosa will.

Personally? I would like to see the Sosa for Todd Helton trade. Sign Magglio Ordonez, and trade D-Lee for a closer.

Yes, I realize the last two paragraphs could be viewed as contradictory... but I think Helton's high OBP is what the Cubs need, and thats not going anywhere... I think

Posted by Byron at January 13, 2005 12:49 AM | Bookmark and Share | BallHype: hype it up!
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It'd be nice to have Helton instead of Sosa. Hey Sammy, think of all the homers you'd hit in Coors Field!!

Don't think that's about to happen though. But we can dream.

We're stuck with SamMe in my opinion. Hopefully he'll hit 40 HR's and only strike out 150 times this year.

Oh, but ya gotta Ban The Jambox this year. It'll show the team that the Team comes first.

Your numbers are way off wrong. The MLBPA has already agreed to let Sosa renegotiate the 2006 portion of his contract, so $35mm is not the amount the Cubs would have to absorb. As any team can negotiate this part of teh contract, any acquiring team will be on the hook for 2006 and beyond. The Cubs will be free of any 2006 payroll for Sosa.

Additionally, $21.5mm is wrong as Sosa earns $17mm in 2005, plus a $4.5mm contract buyout if his 2006 optin is declined, plus $3.5mm "farewell" payment on the day his contract is conluded (either at the end of 2005 or 2006).

The max the Cubs are in for in 2005 is 17+4.5+3.5, or $25 million. They won't take a penny more in cost beyond that.

One more thing. You're nuts if you want Helton. It's not him the player that's the problem, it's his contract.

From ESPN.com:

2005: $12.6 million
2006: $16.6 million
2007: $16.6 million
2008: $16.6 million
2009: $16.6 million
2010: $16.6 million
2011: $19.1 million
2012 (team option): $23 million/$4.6 million buyout

You're on the hook for $119.3 million for seven years, and that includes only $4.6mm in 2012. That's Beltran money for a guy who doesn't play a premium defensive position, doesn't run, and has had back problems.

Chuck, I think you are right with regards to post #2, I had forgotten about the farewell payment. And worse, I was just lazy and used Mariotti's numbers.

As for the Helton trade, I knew the contract and if you click on the link at the bottom of this comment, you'll see that I spent entirely too much time discussing how the money in that swap would work out.

As for whether the Cubs would really be better with Helton, I'm not sure it is an awfully big committment, but I love Todd Helton. Great glove, good power, great OBP... and yes those are his away stats (in the link.)


OK, links don't work. copy and paste, or the link is in the article.

I saw how you worked out the cash. Still not smart to pay premium dollars for a non-premium position for a guy with a history of injury.

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