Ask Gary: Will Machado, Harper still cash in?

by Gary Shelton on February 9, 2019 · 1 comment

in general

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Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, the two biggest free agents in all of baseball, are still unsigned. Both are seeking long term contracts of $30+ million per year. Are MLB owners finally realizing that deals like this are bad investments or will both eventually get paid what they are asking?

Larry Beller

I would hope that baseball owners have come to their senses and figured out that Harper and Machado aren't worth that kind of cash for the extra half-dozen wins or so that they provide, but no owner has ever danced with common sense, have they?

Baseball just keeps throwing these astronomical numbers with impossible years at players, and agents keep inventing invisible competing teams to drive up the cost.

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Let's be honest. There really aren't that many teams that can play with thse lofty numbers. The Yankees, the Red Sox, the Dodgers. The Cubs, the Angels, the Mets. This year, Philadelphia and maybe the White Sox. I think that's the main reason they're unsigned. Those teams are already paying through the nose.

But all it takes is one team, as they say. It's almost as if the regular bidders (plus a couple of newbies like the Padres and Phillies) panic at the end if they think they're getting left out.

So I think they'll both be very, very well paid for a very , very long time. I do think there are fewer reckless spenders, probably because they've already spent. I don't know about you, but I was alarmed at how Machado talked about not being a hustle kind of guy. I don't think I'm going to pay millions for a guy who admits he loafs.
I'll make a prediction, Larry. Whoever signs these guys will be happy, but only for the short term. They'll both be done with several years and millions of dollars remaining on their contracts.

Here's another prediction: Next season, there will be someone else worth silly money.

Frank Robinson has just left us. Did you ever have any interaction with him?

What are your thoughts on his importance to MLB and beyond?

Scott Myers

Scott, I didn't have a great deal of exchange with Robinson, but I had some. In the late eighties, I was working for the Miami Herald and Robinson was the manager of the Orioles. I remember that he had a regal bearing to him. And he deserved it. Hey, he had been the MVP of both leagues. He was the manager of the year in 1989 after turning Baltimore from a 54-win team to one that won 87.

Robinson didn't keep up the winning, however. In 2005 and 2006 (and I didn't remember this until looking it up), he was voted the worst manager in baseball by the players in a vote by Sports Illustrated.

To a lot of people, that was proof of the old adage that great players make for lousy managers (see Williams, Ted). Compare Robinson with the definitive Orioles' manager Earl Weaver, the salty old soul who was a lifer in the dugout.

A brief interruption for a story: When I was with the Herald, we had a copy clerk who was a huge fan of the Orioles and of Weaver. He wrote a good morning item every day, and it was designed to be funny. But Dick (Heller), frankly, wasn't very funny. There was nothing subtle about his prose.

One day, Dick had to call Weaver to check out some news item, and it was as if Weaver had been waiting for months for Heller to call him. So when Dick did, Weaver simply lit into him, swearing and ripping and snorting, shredding Heller over the phone.

We all felt terrible for him, of course. His personal hero had just cut him down to size, brusquely, and so everyone was treading lightly. Bu the next day, Dick was walking around the office offering his tape recorder to bystanders. "Hey, you want to hear my interview with Earl Weaver," he would ask. Ouch.

I was covering the Dolphins at the time of Robinson, so I didn't cover that much spring baseball. The Yankees were training in Fort Lauderdale then, and the Rangers in Pompano Beach, so there was plenty to write about. The Yankees were the team everyone cared about, whether Craig Nettles was ripping George Steinbrenner or Dave Winfield was in a mini-controversy or if Joe DiMaggio showed up one night. The Orioles were a second-banana in our coverage, even though they played near the heart of downtown

Eventually, Robinson didn't keep up the winning, and he didn't last that long. But I never looked at him without seeing his baseball card. The times I was around him, I felt honored to be there.

As far as his importance to the game, I think it was towering. A triple crown. Two MVPs. Manager of the Year. First black manager.  Nine seasons of hitting more than .300. All of it with a grand style and elegance.

After all the flirtation with Tampa, the Rays are now talking about a St. Petersburg site. Can the team improve its standings on the same side of the  Bay?

Paul Walker

I guess it matters what kind of stadium and where. But if the Rays are serious, and not acting out of desperation because Tampa seems to be uninterested, I still think it's a longshot.

I wouldn't expect -- even with improvements -- the Trop to draw any better in the future than in the past. But I was intrigued when the Rays were trying to build by the water before. So maybe there is some hope. Never say never.

If the Rays are going to stay in St. Pete, they need a site that would attract fans to more than a baseball game. A dinner, maybe. There needs to be some reason for the destination. They need something like Camden Yards in Baltimore.

Any way you look at it, this is a retreat the team didn't want to make Who wants to go to all the trouble, and make up all the schematics, and then have people sit on their wallets. It never had a chance.

If I were the Rays, I would not want to stay at the Trop. I want the feeling of newness that a new stadium gives you. Perhaps there is a way to be more inviting to the Tampa fans.

I'd look somewhere close to the water and close to the interstate.



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