Gary Matthews signed with the Angels today. He got $10 million a year over five years. That’s right, the Angels paid a 31-year old centerfielder $50 million. A guy who, until this year, hit .250 over his career.
Matthews is a fine player. He was an all-star this year. Seems like a real good guy. Comes from a baseball family. And maybe he really has turned a corner as a hitter. But $50 million?
“Guys learn at different times in their careers,” Angels GM Bill Stoneman said. “Gary’s coming into his own.”
Okaaaaaaaaay. Sure he is. Just like Adrien Beltre came into his own a few years ago. When are GMs ever going to learn that it’s a bad idea to hand out monster contracts to guys who put together one solid year after 10 years of mediocrity?
Even if Matthews can put together a couple more .300 seasons, $10 million per is a real stretch. I mean, really, $50 million? That’s a ton of money.
Plenty of players have parlayed fluke years into monster contracts. Many of those players, we’ve come to find out, did so with the benefit of some designer drugs. But Matthews may be the first that I can remember to score a big deal on the strength of one spectacular play. You know the one I’m talking about.
You know what? On second thought, if I were a GM, I think I might shell out $50 million to Matthews on the off chance that he might make a catch like that again, this time for my team. Wow. Wowie, wow, wow, wow.
In other hot stove news, the Carlos Lee sweepstakes seems to be heating up. And, really, your guess is as good as mine as to who will end up with Lee. Everybody seems to think it’ll come down to three teams, but nobody seems to be able to agree which three teams. I’ve heard the Orioles, Astros, and Phillies are all serious contenders. But the Giants and Rangers have also been mentioned as possibilities, and you’ve got to think the Giants are more of a player after losing Moises Alou and then losing out on Matthews. An AL team would almost certainly be a better fit for Lee, who is growing fatter by the day. At the rate he’s going, he’ll be forced into DH duty buy July. If he signs with an NL team, he’ll eventually be too fat to play anything but first base. You’d think that would prevent the Phillies from signing him, since they already have a pretty good fat firstbaseman. But then again, Pat Gillick seems desperate to sign a slugger.
From the “don’t hold your breath” department, rumors persist that the Red Sox will try to convince Roger Clemens to become their closer, and that the Angels will trade for Andruw Jones. First of all, Clemens isn’t a closer. Second he likes to spend off days with his family, and closers need to be available everyday. So it just isn’t going to happen. As for Andruw, he’s got a no trade clause and doesn’t seem interested in going anywhere until after this season, when he will become a free agent and should command money similar to what Alfonso Soriano just got.