Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Life on a shoestring

Pardon me for feeling a little jealous.

It's just that whenever I look at the Indians' offseason activity, and then look at the offseason moves of other teams, I'm reminded of a few lines from the Everclear song, "I Will Buy You a New Life":

"I hate all those people who love to tell you,
Money is the root of all that kills.
They have never been poor,
They have never had the joy of a welfare Christmas."

I flick on SportsCenter and find out that the Red Sox have signed J.D. Drew and Julio Lugo on the same day. That's $70 million for Drew and $36 million for Lugo. Within the span of 24 hours. And Manny Ramirez is still on their roster raking in $20 million a year, or some obscenely-high amount around there.

Then I click on the Web at work Wednesday to find out that the Indians have rolled the dice on yet another pitcher other teams have shied away from due to injury concerns. One year, and a shade over $4 million for Joe Borowski.

Borowski would have been a Phillie by last week if it wasn't for an MRI on his shoulder. The Phillies saw something they didn't like and pulled their multi-year offer off the table, essentially sending Borowski to the scratch-'n-dent bin.

Enter the Indians, baseball's scavengers. They must have seen the same things the Phillies saw when Borowski came in for his Cleveland physical Tuesday. It's amazing what a suddenly-cheap price and an air of quasi-desperation on both sides will do for getting a deal done.

Borowski needed to go somewhere to rescue his market value and clear his shoulder of any wrongdoing. The Indians needed a veteran late-inning reliever and couldn't afford much else. A match made in clearance-rack heaven.

Both Borowski and the Indians are rolling the dice that his shoulder will stay intact for the 2007 season.

If all goes well, the Indians can pick up Borowski's option for 2008. If all doesn't go well, he's gone after the season.

You could certainly do worse then Borowski, a journeyman reliever who has managed to last more than a decade in the majors. But he's still a one- or two-season bandage, like Bob Wickman last year and the year before, like Kevin Millwood, like Bob Howry and Scott Sauerbeck, like Roberto Hernandez and Aaron Fultz.

The Indians keep talking about building for the long-term. So why are so many of their solutions short-term?

Every offseason, we are led to believe that this year is the year the Indians make some meaningful strides in trades and free agency, and finally turn from a potential-laden young club to an American League contender. But every offseason, the Indians become baseball's Ellis Island, a gateway for baseball's tired, huddled, injury-plagued masses yearning to reclaim their careers.

It perpetuates the feeling that, even with the impressive collection of young talent, this team is still living hand-to-mouth, year-to-year. It doesn't exactly instill confidence in the players or fans that this team is building toward consistent contention.

And all the while, we get to watch ESPN every night and be regaled by the epic stories of the Yankees, Red Sox and their big-market ilk engaged in their ongoing games of financial one-upmanship.

You can see why the temptation is to go back to bed, pull up the covers and say, "Wake me when my ship comes in."


Anonymous said...

erik --

perhaps you'd prefer we throw 3 yrs and $19 mil at danys baez like the o's? free agent relief is one of the worst investments you can make in any market, and in this year's thin crop it's even more the case. imo shapiro has been smart to acquire several arms to build depth, while limiting his exposure with one-year guarantees in all cases.

you are a hard one to please, my man. barfield is not an up-and-comer, he's another young guy on a team that's too young. borowski isn't an experienced & steady arm, he's a washed-up geezer on the scrap heap. and now you're saying you *envy* the red sox for the privilege of paying drew $70 mil?!? yow.

Erik said...

If that's all Borowski is, a washed-up geezer on the scrap heap, why even invest the year in him? It's like being set up to fail.

Going by that logic, Shapiro shouldn't even be throwing one-year deals at these guys because they aren't going to be reliable even for a year. He should be trying to acquire a younger arm through a trade, but then you're toying with your farm system, which for a team like the Indians, is a bad idea.

It's not so much that I'm hard to please, it's that the Indians are in a situation that there is really no good way out of.

And I never said I was jealous of the fact that the Red Sox flung $70 million at J.D. Drew. That is a horrible contract and one the Red Sox will be trying to get out of within three years.

I'm jealous of the money the Red Sox have to throw around, period. The whole point of the column was that we have to stand by and watch Boston and their ilk spend money like it's tissue paper while the Indians have to roll the dice on a guy like Borowski.

It was a commentary on the financial disparity of baseball more than anything. Not about Boston getting Player A and Cleveland getting Player B.