Going for Gold: Five Players Who Wish They Hadn't Taken the Money
Baseball is essentially a money game these days. Sure, it is possible to win without a huge payroll, but it is tough to come by. In this article, I looked at the players themselves, not the teams, and their choices to sign with certain teams taking a large contract, instead of signing with more winning teams for a lesser contract. Essentially, I am naming three players who to me have proved that they care more about the money than winning and the love of the game.
Kevin Millwood, Texas Rangers
After a career year with the Indians in 2005, Millwood signed for $48 million over four years with the Texas Rangers. Millwood's statistics with the Rangers after three seasons average:
11-12, 4.91 ERA, 1.54 Whip, .293 BAA
These statistics individually are certainly are not representative of what a 48 million dollar man should be putting out, nor are they close to Millwood’s 2005 season numbers. But this analysis is looking at the team, not so much the individual player’s numbers, so let us take a look at how Texas has performed with Millwood.
Win totals for Texas past three years:
They have not made the playoffs any of the three years. Had Millwood remained with the Indians for a lesser deal, he could have helped them during their 2007 playoff run, and the exceptional Cleveland offense would have helped his individual numbers as well. In addition, Millwood would be staying in a pitcher-friendly park instead of where he currently pitches in Texas...a hitter’s haven.
Adrian Beltre, Seattle Mariners
In 2004, with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Adrian Beltre had one of the strongest third base seasons in a long time. He hit over .330, had 48 home runs, drove in 120 runs, and had 200 hits...exceptional year to say the least. After this year, Beltre signed a whopping five-year, $64 million deal with the Mariners. His numbers as a Mariner in the first four years of the contract the averages are the following:
80 R, 24 HR, 88 RBI, .266 BA
Not horrible but not worth the money that they paid him and not close to his 2004 numbers either. But once again, this analysis is not about the individual numbers, it is about the player's choice to sign with that team. So let us take a look at Seattle's record the last four years with Beltre. Their average win total in 4 years since signing Beltre:
This is pretty bad, in fact saying that it being nice. With the exception of a solid year in 2006, the Mariners have been awful and not once contended for a playoff spot in the AL West.
Beltre's old team, the Dodgers, have done well without him, staying competitive in the NL West for each of the last four years and making the second round of the playoffs this past season. Needless to say, Beltre is wishing he had stayed in LA and taken a smaller deal.
Aaron Rowand, San Francisco Giants
It was not Rowand's original choice to leave his beloved White Sox and head to the Phillies. But it was his choice to take a five-year, $60 million deal with the San Francisco Giants, and that is why he finds himself on this list. During his first year Rowand's numbers dropped significantly from his 2007 Phillies season, but they still were not awful. But how have the Giants as a team been performing..?
In 2007 they had a “solid” 71 wins and in 2008 they one-upped it to 72. Not totals any player wants to be a part of. And the White Sox wanted Rowand back as soon as they had the chance. They were a team struggling to find a center fielder with only young Brian Anderson who could not seem to hit his stride. But Rowand would not sign with the Sox because they would not add a fifth year to his deal, this was the breaking point. Rowand should have given the Sox a home town discount and gone for the four-year deal they were willing to give him. Maybe then he would be playing into October rather than watching it on the wide-screen.
Matt Morris, ??
Matt Who? Yes Matt Morris, the once upon a time ace of the St. Louis Cardinals. After a solid but not great season in 2005 with the Cardinals (14-10, 4.11 ERA) Morris departed for bigger and better things...well that’s what he thought. Morris signed a three-year, $27 million deal with the Giants after 2005 and it has all gone down hill from there. Since 2005 Morris's ERAs have been as follows:
Now, given the last two were not in full seasons, the numbers have still been awful for a guy whose ERA broke four only twice in eight years with the Cardinals.
And how have the teams Morris has been with fared since he left St. Louis. The Giants were lucky enough to dump him off to Pittsburgh where he remained in 2007 and for the first part of the 2008 season before he was released by the Pirates.
Pirates 2008- 68 wins
Pirates 2007- 67 wins
Giants 2007- 71 wins
Giants 2007- 76 wins
None of these teams have made the playoffs or even close to it. Had Morris remained with St. Louis he would have won a World Series ring, and competed strongly in the NL Central for all of the past three years. Who knows how his individual numbers would have been in STL, but it is likely they would not have dropped off as much as they did, because in my opinion a player has much more motivation to perform well when his team is also performing well. Once again, cash is king.
Gil Meche, Kansas City Royals
After a 2006 then career season with Seattle in which he pitched 188 innings, won 11 games, and had an ERA sub 4.50, Gil Meche passed up offers from big name contending teams to sign a five-year, $55 million deal with the Royals of Kansas City. Unlike the others on this list, Mil has pitched tremendous with Kansas City with ERAs under four both years and over 210 innings pitched both years as well. But every player strives to win a World Series, or at least to have the chance to play deep into October, and when Meche decided the Royals over other teams, he through this dream away for the next five years. The Royals have a hold of Meche for three more years, and unlike some of the other teams at the bottom of the bin, the Royals future is not looking bright. The Royals made big strides in 2008, winning 75 games as compared to 69 the year before. But their inability to draft strong players, and their tendency to trade away talent, will leave them at the bottom of the AL Central for the rest of Meche's days with them. Come 2010, he will be hoping he was somewhere else, say New York, Chicago, or any of the other teams that were interested in him, and hadn't gone for the gold instead.