Ask Gary: Should Bucs shop around or resign their own?

by Gary Shelton on March 2, 2019 · 4 comments

in general

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

Which of the many players on the Bucs roster who will become free agents would you like the team to re-sign? Bruce Arians seems to want to keep them all but to do that would leave no room for outside free agents. Is it more important for the Bucs to re-sign the majority of their own guys or go after free agents from other teams?

Larry Beller

You're right, Larry. It's a balancing act between keeping the veterans from a disappointing team or try the low-yield crop of free agents. The smart teams do a little bit of both. On the other hand, the smart guys don't seem to miss as wildly as the Bucs have in recent seasons, do they?

If I am Bruce Arians, I look at all ways to improve this roster, especially on defense. I know he's very confident in his bunch, but I'm not sure he's not fooling himself at a couple of positions.

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Now, it goes in concert, right? If the Bucs see a left tackle they like in free agency, they're less likely to sign Donovan Smith, for example.

If I ran the Bucs, the first guy I would say no to is Brent Grimes. No way he should ever get inside the building again. He made a ton, thought he deserved more and played like he should have been paid less.

I'm going to re-sign Adam Humphries, who has been a solid receiver, if I can possibly do it. I'm going to re-sign Kwon Alexander, because someone needs to make tackles on defense. I'll sign Peyton Barber, who is average, but that's miles ahead of everyone else the team has. I'd offer Cairo Santos a contract, but I'd hedge my bets with another kicker, too. If Santos leaves, I can live with it.

I let Chris Conte go. I let Jacquizz Rodgers go. I let either Ryan Fitzpatrick or Ryan Griffin go. It's time.

Now, the Bucs need to pick up a couple of wins in free agency. They haven't been batting very high over the years. Free agency has brought them Alvin Harper and Michael Johnson and Anthony Collins and Vinny Curry.

Hopefully, with Arians' eye, and that of Bowles and his staff, the Bucs will bat a higher percentage. No one bats 1.000 in free agency, but you can find help. The Bucs need that.

So what do the Bucs do? Shop around or re-sign their own. On a team that is under .500, the temptation is to shop around. But I've seen so many free agents fizzle over the years. I'd be judicious here. I'd sign 2-3 from column A and 2-3 from column B. Does that make sense?

Will the recent long-term contracts for Bryce Harper (13 years),  Manny Machado (10 years) and Nolan Arenado (8 years) cause the NL to institute the DH so that these players will possibly be more useful during the back-end years of their contracts?

Scott Myers

I'm sure that's one of the reasons the players union will push for the DH. They want to have a slot for guys when their hips get stiff and their throwing arms are shot. Just walking to the plate four times will do it for them. After all, baseball contracts are guaranteed; no one will take a cut.

You've been a master at this game, Scott. No one I know (and I know some smart baseball writers) has a clearer handle on how the back ends of contracts can weight a team down. Frankly, the difference between third place and second place isn't worth that kind of coin to me.

Look, maybe it's because I've covered a team that threw nickels around as if they were manhole covers, but this kind of spending doesn't make sense unless a team is going to make several runs at the World Series. I get the Yankees, because they've won more than anyone. I get the Red Sox, because they have so much money they might as well spend it. But what is there to make you think that the Padres and the Phillies will be smart enough to put the rest of the puzzle together.

We've talked at length about Manny Machado's admission that he isn't a hustle guy. I don't think making him as rich as emerging nations is going to help it. Then there is Harper, who never quite convinced everyone that he was all-in with the Nationals. The Washington Post called it addition by subtraction for the Nats. The Washington city paper had this to say: "Harper’s legacy in D.C. is always going to be complicated. There was always a sense, going back to the day the Nats drafted him No. 1 overall, that his eye was elsewhere—not to the middle distance, but to a bigger city. He’s always carried the personality of someone who craves the spotlight of New York or Los Angeles, and that his time in D.C. was always going to be an intermittent step on his way to superstardom elsewhere. He felt of this city, but not always a part of it."

In recent years, more and more American League teams were using the DH position for just another outfielder, figuring they could get late-inning defensive help or a pinch-runner at a fraction of the cost. But if I had a fat cat ballplayer who was draining millions from the payroll, sure, I'd think about him as a DH. But history shows us that all outfielders aren't quality DH guys, doesn't it?

I feel fairly assured of this. Either the Padres or Phillies -- or both -- will regret these deals. And it won't take a decade or more.

Now that Johnny Manziel has been kicked out of Canada, is he done?

Paul Walker

You'd think so, wouldn't you? The guy has been a mess off the field, and he hasn't done anything on the field to make you forget about it. A coach once told me there was a sliding scale with problem players, that the more of a headache they were, the more they had to be special as a player.

With Manziel, I just don't see an athlete who is worth the trouble. What's the difference between Manziel and JaMarcus Russell? Or Manziel and Ryan Leaf?

What I think is hysterical is that no one has broken the story on just what Manziel did, which kind of shows how irrelevant he's become. If he was still in the NFL, we'd have 17 stories and 39 rumors so far.

Is he done? In a lot of years, I'd say yes. But don't forget that this is the season of the XFL and the AAF. There aren't enough quarterbacks to go around. So, yeah, someone might nibble at Manziel. Why they would -- unless they have a spare jersey sitting around -- is beyond me.

 

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller March 2, 2019 at 7:47 am

I didn’t even mention Gerald McCoy who is not a free agent but will make a lot of money in what will probably be the years past his prime. From our past discussion you would want him back too right? He’s been a good player, a good guy and a loyal soldier but I’m not so sure he’s worth his salary at this point unless he is willing to take a pay cut.

What about Desean Jackson? Arians wants to keep him too but can the Bucs afford that and should he even be on this team? He basically quit on them last year. He and Winston have never clicked so why keep banging that drum?

The biggest question for me is should the Bucs put the franchise tag on Donovan Smith in order to keep him? They would have to pay him $14 million and I don’t see how he is worth anything close to that. His contract would eat up a big chuck of the very small amount of cap room they have. Would new coaches, new attitude, new scheme make him that much of a better player and worth keeping? Seems like a stretch.

There should be a lot of turnover from what has been a lousy team in order to build a winner. Trying to win with mostly the same guys sounds like a recipe for disaster. The Bucs don’t have much room under the cap so each decision is crucial. No room for sentiment.

Like you said a lot of these decisions are going to be based on who can they get to replace some of these guys. Bringing in outside free agents, who the Bucs have to over pay to sign, hasn’t worked that well in the past but can the the Bucs win with mostly the same team? The type of season the Bucs will have next year could be decided right now with their choices on personnel.

Reply

Gary Shelton March 2, 2019 at 8:41 am

I wouldn’t bring McCoy back, and Gerald is one of my favorite all-time Bucs. The team has already said they’ll bring him back, but he eats up a lot of cap space and, frankly, he isn’t the player he once was. I know he’d be snapped up by a good team, and he’d contribute. But I fear the cap number.

I wouldn’t bring Jackson back, either. He’s always been a diva, and he’s never accepted any of the responsibility when things go wrong. We used to comment on his drops in the press box.

With Smith, I really would look to see who is out there before I committed that much money to him. He won’t be a better player because he’s going to be paid like one. Before last year, when Smith gave up a lot of sacks, I thought he was better than the general consensus on him. But he struggled last year. The Bucs need a left tackle.

No, I don’t think the Bucs will elevate from five wins to, say, nine just because of Bruce Arians, and I like him, too. They need 2-3 free agents to work out. I’d take a stab and say a safety, a corner and a left tackle. Maybe a running back.

There is a lot of conversation about a left tackle from the draft. Maybe, but those guys generally don’t shine in their first seasons, do they?

We agree on this: There is heavy lifting to be done.

Reply

Larry Beller March 3, 2019 at 8:21 am

Thanks Gary. I couldn’t agree more. It’s tempting to say that with the new coaching regime the Bucs will be a lot better but is that realistic? They have a lot of holes to fill and with Winston getting a ton more money this year and beyond if he stays it’s not going to be easy. But it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Reply

Gary Shelton March 3, 2019 at 9:23 am

I think interesting is a great word. I can see them pulling out a couple of more wins, maybe getting near .500. But I don’t think they’re making the playoffs.

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