San Francisco Giants: At Least One Team Wasn’t Colluding Last Off Season

July 17, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

Recent reports say that baseball player agents have been pushing the Players’ Union to file a grievance, alleging that the owners were up to their old collusion tricks again this past off season. 
The Union’s leadership doesn’t seem to be convinced, however, because there haven’t been any rumblings indicating that the Union is seriously considering bringing such a grievance.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Bud Selig stridently denies that collusion has occurred.  However, Selig’s pronouncements on a subject such as this are about as believable as Dick Cheney’s statements about the rock-solid intelligence showing Saddam Hussein’s connections to Al Qaeda.

The owners’ best argument against collusion in the 2008-2009 off season is the Giants and their GM Brian Sabean.  Sabean this past off season did the same thing he does every off season: race to sign the players he wants right away before the market goes up.

Most years this is a good strategy.  As the off season progresses, the market prices for top free agents generally goes up, and Sabean ends up signing the guys he wants for relatively reasonable prices; the Barry Zito signing being a particularly notable exception.

This off season, Sabean raced to sign shortstop Edgar Renteria and pitchers Jeremy Affeldt and Bob Howry at the beginning of the free agent signing period.  The market then dropped precipitously, and it turned out that Sabean way overpaid.

There isn’t a whole lot of difference between Renteria and Orlando Cabrera, except that the Giants gave Renteria about $14 million more in guaranteed money than the A’s gave Cabrera.  Sabean also gave Affeldt and particularly Howry more than they would have gotten if Sabean had waited.

Sabean has his modus operandi, and in most years it works for him.  However, I was none too impressed with Sabean this past off season, when the economy crashed in September before the season had even ended, and he still went out and paid top dollar as if the baseball player market would still operate as it does in boom times.

Obviously, the Yankees weren’t colluding either.  As always, they spent like drunken sailors to get the three free agents they wanted most.

Finally, I don’t think the Braves were colluding either, given the ridiculous four-year $60 million contract they gave Derek Lowe.

It’s so rare that the owners act like rational business men when it comes to signing free agents, that it’s a little hard to believe when they do act rationally. 

However, anyone in his right mind was spooked when the banks nearly collapsed in September, and once the owners began to act with caution, and the market for free agents fell, most of the teams waited on the sidelines to see how far prices would fall before getting back into it. 

At the end of the day, though, the top free agents still made a boat-load of money.

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