Hammer is too legit to get underpaid.Professional baseball players are selfish. Everybody knows it. They’re greedy, money grubbing douchebags.

Except, for most of this offseason, they weren’t.

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

This winter, Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Holliday, Robinson Cano, Brad Hawpe, Manny Corpas and a few others signed contracts that locked them up through their arbitration-eligible years. They left money on the table (possibly) in exchange for financial security. Nobody wants to go year to year.

Mike Lowell gave the Boston Red Sox a hometown discount. So did Curt Schilling. And the latter even promised to lose weight!

Alex Rodriguez negotiated his contract with the Yankees himself (with the aid of Warren Buffett), pushing aside Scott Boras and signing for millions less than many speculated he might get.

Kenny Rogers flat out fired Boras. Garry Sheffield called the super agent a “bad person.”

Manny Ramirez showed up to camp in great shape and told the media that he wanted to play until he was 50 and that he wanted to retire a Red Sox.

It all seemed too good to be true. Maybe it was.

Lately, the era of good feelings has come to a screetching halt.

Paps considers himself an MVP-type guy.First, Schilling announced that he wanted to have surgery, but the Red Sox wouldn’t let him.

Then Ramirez, fresh off his “I want to stay in Boston” speech, hired Boras as his new agent. Not that hiring Boras is a guarantee that Ramirez will sign elsewhere — but it’s certainly not encouraging.

This week, Jonathan Papelbon said he wants $900,000 — the same amount Ryan Howard got in his third year. The implication, as always: they can pay now or somebody else will get the chance to pay later.

Also, Prince Fielder and Cole Hamels got all bent out of shape when their teams renewed their contracts. Both players felt like they got jipped. Hamels called his $500,000 contract a “low blow.” Here’s what Fielder had to say about his $670,000 deal:

“I’m not happy about it at all,” Fielder said. “The fact I’ve had to be renewed two years in a row, I’m not happy about it because there’s a lot of guys who have the same amount of time that I do who have done a lot less and are getting paid a lot more.

“But my time is going to come. It’s going to come quick, too.”

Hamels thought his contract renewal was a low blow.Them there’s fightin’ words.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Tampa Bay CF B.J. Upton said all the right things after his contract was renewed by the Rays this week. Upton will make $10,000 less than he made in 2007, despite hitting .300-24-82 with 22 steals last year. But he says the slight won’t affect his play.

Upton’s tact notwithstanding, the last few weeks represented a bit of turbulance in the otherwise smooth sailing relationship between the players and management. What will the future hold? Your guess is as good as mine.

17 Responses to “Selfish players emerge after hibernating for the winter.”

  1. Sarah Green says:

    Rocco Baldelli has to be one of the best names among active players. It so clearly harkens back to the names of great ballplayer names of yore. I really hope he lives up to it, one day.

    Also, every time I read about “Evan Longoria” I get a weird picture in my head of Depserate Housewife Eva Longoria in a Rays uniform trying to field a bad-hop grounder.

  2. I think Orel Hershiser has to rank up there as one of the greatest baseball names ever. Other really good ones:
    Candy Maldanado
    Coco Crisp
    Champ Summers
    Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown
    Curtis Pride

  3. Also:
    Joe Nuxhall

  4. Sarah Green says:

    Those are good ones, Danny O. But, after the really baseball-y names, there are the weird names (Rollie Fingers—sounds like a riverboat gambler) and the amusing names (Rusty Kuntz) and the vaguely copyrighted names (Milton Bradley) and the just really weird names (anyone with a first name of Boog). Then there are all the names that sound like female porn stars (Storm Davis, Vida Blue, Spanky LaValliere).

  5. What about Heathcliff Slocumb, for a combination of Byronic hero with down-home cookin’?

    Or the interesting mental image conjured up by the Cleveland Indians radio announcer in the late 1940s who would intone “And the Lemon is winding up . . .”

  6. Sarah Green says:

    Those are good ones. I should have also added “Boof” to the “Boog” category. Also “Mookie.” Or really, anyone with a double-O in his name.

  7. I would submit Oddibe McDowell, Bump Willis and Tuffy Rhodes as cartoon character names. Joey Devine and Royce Ring would fit in nicely in the porn star division.

  8. Sarah Green says:

    Those are excellent additions, Melissa. And let’s not forget Butch Huskey—a great name for a tough roller derby broad. Also, how much fun is it to say “Billy Joe Robideaux”? Sounds like he should be part of Rollie Fingers’ gambling ring. Or maybe a lounge singer in Vegas.

  9. Anyone else thinking BJ Upton is going to have a terrible regression to the mean? I think I saw somewhere that he had .400 BABIP.

  10. Nick Kapur says:

    Yes, it’s true, Rich. His BABIP was a ridiculous .393 last year, and that is just unsustainable. I am not at all sold on BJ Upton yet, for that reason.

  11. Sarah Green says:

    Having read all the various reports in this Schilling-Sox power play, I have come to two conclusions:

    1) The Sox should’ve let Schill have the surgery. He’s going to be gone for the first half of the season anyway, right? So why not at least give yourselves a chance he’ll be back—and more importantly, effective—in the second half? Even if this current rehab program works (which is doubtful), Schilling’s arm may only get back to a point where he is good for batting practice.

    2)That said, Schilling has not been comporting himself well with these little confabs in the parking lot with reporters. That’s just a distraction. If he really feels so strongly, he should have just refused Boston’s course of treatment and allowed them to void his contract.

  12. Margaret says:

    From what I know about Schilling’s injury and the procedure in question, I think the problem is that even with surgery, there’s a solid chance he still won’t be able to pitch.

    With either the surgery or rehab, the chances that he’ll get more than 70% or so of his strength back is pretty slim.

    Additionally, from a medical standpoint– surgery isn’t the preferred option. Surgery should always be considered a last resort, whether the patient is a pro athlete or not.

    I think the Sox made the right choice given the information they have.

  13. Nick Kapur says:

    Yeah, I’ve been really baffled about all these second or third year players bitching about their contract renewals.

    I mean, they all got raises. Those guys have absolutely no leverage. It’s ridiculous to complain when you just got a raise despite the team would have been completely within its rights to pay you the major league minimum.

    Once again, I think we have to lay some blame at the doorstep of the Phillies and the ridiculous $900,000 they gave to Ryan Howard. Now suddenly everyone thinks they deserve $900,000, when the team could just as easily pay them $380,000.

    Since when is a raise nobody had to give you a “slap in the face”?

  14. Sarah Green says:

    Well, maybe what the teams should be doing is saying, “Okay, here’s what you get if we renew you….but here’s the longer-term deal we’re willing to offer at this time. You pick.” I’m sure the Sox and the Brewers would like to lock up their young stars and it seems like said stars want to be shown (ahem) the monay. Hey, it worked for Grady Sizemore?

    @ Margaret, I hear what you’re saying…but I think Schilling will end up having the surgery anyway, after the rehab proves ineffective. Which is fine if he’s normal Joe Schmo citizen, but not fine for a pro athlete. I feel very pessimistic when the doctor says the pain was so severe, Schilling couldn’t even turn a doorknob and that his arm looked like spaghetti. How do you rehab spaghetti? And how is he going to help out down the stretch suffering from Spaghetti Arm?? Bah.

  15. Nick, I don’t think you can blame the Phillies for Ryan Howard’s $900,000 contract. Howard is a special case. The Phils kept him in the minors when he could have been putting up big numbers in the majors. Paying him a little extra was the least they could do. Plus, each team has a system they use to devise a young player’s salary. The Phils’ system gives a player extra dough for winning the MVP and rookie of the year awards. Lots of teams have a similar system, but few teams have a player who has won as much hardware as Howard.

    If you want to criticize the Phillies, take them to task for their lowball offer to Howard in arbitration this year. Howard’s arbitration win is going to lead to a spike in player salaries that could really screw small market teams.

  16. Coley Ward says:

    Also, Sarah, I think your point about locking up younger players through their arbitration elegible years is a good one, but I don’t think it’s the best option in all cases. Would the Red Sox be wise to sign Papelbon to a long deal, only one year after an arm injury prematurely ended his rookie season? Would the Phillies be wise to lock up Cole Hamels, even though he has chronic back problems (and a propensity to get into bar fights)? Should the Brewers lock up Prince Fielder, despite his weight problem?

    I think, almost without exception, the young players who get these contracts are guys like Tulo, Cano, Utley — guys who are healthy and fit and demonstrate leadership skills.

  17. Sarah Green says:

    I agree with your observation about Tulo, Cano, Utley, etc. It’s definitely a strategy that works best for exceptional young players. But I do think Papelbon’s injury that first year just came about through overuse. They ran him out there a little too often for such a young pitcher, especially considering the guy only went into relief at the last minute anyway. Even so, it would behoove the Red Sox to sign Papelbon early, yes—after all, it’s only money, and Boston has plenty of it. Closers of his caliber are hard to come by, and if they let him hit the open market there will be a bidding war. Cole Hamels may be a different story, however. On the whole, though, I think there’s definitely a savings if you can sign a young player to a deal while he’s still in that “just happy to be here” phase. Both Paps and Fielder seem to be already reaching the end of that phase, though. Speaking of Fielder, I definitely think the Brewers should lock up Fielder. A lot of guys who hit 50 homers have weight problems, but there aren’t a lot of guys who hit 50 homers.

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