So let's think about this... Vernon Wells almost sinks the Blue Jays franchise with his contract. Fortunately, a desperate Angels team takes him off of their hands. Alex Rios takes big money to perform north of the border, and he sucks it up so badly that the team basically gives him away to the White Sox. He still doesn't perform well.
Shawn Green, Carlos Delgado, and Roger Clemens leave the team to get bigger money elsewhere. In some small way, not paying any of of these guys was a good decision. Sure, Clemens had many great years, but they were all ALLEGEDLY steroid enhanced, so...
Why now? Why pay Jose Bautista out on a long contract? Is it because he had his swing together last year and connected for 54 round trippers? Since 2004, he has hit 113 home runs. That means that in the past, there 5 more home runs that twice his last year total in 6 years. Year 7, he gets it together and excels. Now, he gets rewarded big time.
In his career, he has been rejected by Tampa Bay in the bad old days, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City. Do you think that if he had promise and upside, someone would have noticed it on one of those sucky teams and say, hmm... let's keep him around for a while or trade him to someone good for their sort of prospects that can be billed as larger than life (because teams like the Yankees never give that good of prospects).
Last year, Bautista got his 54 dingers for a .260 batting average. He whiffed 116 times. In his career, he has whiffed 550 times in 2,323 at bats. That's pretty much once a game. We'll assume his RBIs aren't worth mentioning due to his poor teams, but still... 54 home runs and 124 RBIs in a show off season... hmm...
Does this remind people of Luis Gonzalez and his meteoric rise to fame in the midst of the steroid era? Sure, we love the hit I never saw live in 2001, but other than that... he was forgotten when baseball cleared out its past offenders.
Andruw Jones once cleared 50 as well. Where is he now? Oh, that's right. The Yankees signed him and every other player who hasn't been good since the early 2000s. While he could really rake home runs, he hasn't been solid at the plate in his last 4 years, and now, he's only getting older and older and older. Hell, the dude seems older than Helen Hunt looks these days. And perhaps it's not all about age, but girth and range were a problem for him. In short, he may be trying to get it together again, but is he worth the possibility of greatness when paid big time?
Sure, Bautista doesn't seem like he'll be loading up on Dunkin Donuts, but still... possibility for one good season?
And lest we not forget Greg Vaughn's 50 in 1998 (when everyone hit yard because chicks dig the long ball) and Brady Anderson's 50 in 1996 (when that still seemed like an accomplishment).
Are they worth 5 years and $65million?
If so, please let me know because I'll stop teaching and start weight training because a 39 year old rookie who never played baseball past B ball in little league really wants a shot at some real money. Heaven knows, the "real money" is not in teaching - unless you're a union guy in Wisconsin and you think you can strong arm the tax payers and the law to keep all of your pay when everyone else is making sacrifices in a bad economy - just because you "educate the youth of America" (some better than others - both students and teachers' faults).
But alas... I digress.