Money has a funny way of inspiring people to perform even better than expected. This is true in several career paths and certainly doesn’t exclude baseball. In baseball, the money up for grabs is anywhere from the league minimum of $400,000 to the $27.5 million Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees makes annually. Salaries are based on a combination of what a player has done and what is reasonable to expect he can do. Top performers in their mid- to late twenties and early thirties are those who can expect the big bucks. Players can either sign a contract extension with their current team or they can wait until their contract expires and they become a free agent. Both scenarios have pros and cons.
As far as a contract extension goes, it is guaranteed money, and who doesn’t like job security? Baseball is a gruelling sport and every player is one injury away from seeing his career end. With a long-term contract, even if the unthinkable happens, the injured player still gets paid. Free agency, on the other hand, usually means a lot more money. It can also be a strong motivator for good players to have great seasons. (Adrian Beltre’s 2004 and 2010 seasons anyone?)
The Extreme Makeover: Home Edition crew rolled into the Wichita State Campus on Thursday. Everyone was invited to Eck Stadium for the big surprise. It was announced via Ty Pennington’s blow horn that former Shocker baseball player Carl Hall would be receiving a new home.
The Rookie of the Year award is as important to the player as well as the franchise for which he works. Having a different player from the same team challenge for the award year in and year out is a great sign for your organizational depth. In 2010, both leagues had great races for the award. The Detroit Tigers had two players—Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch—seemingly poised to take the trophy at the start of the year, winning top rookie honours in April, May, and June. They eventually lost to Neftali Feliz of the Texas Rangers. In the National League, there was a two man race between Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves and Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants, with Posey eventually winning out.
This season, there is another crop of hopeful winners. Here are my picks for the award as well as a dark horse in each league. There are a ton of potential impact rookies this season, so I won’t attempt to list them all. Feel free to comment and tell me how foolish I was to not list Kyle Drabek (Toronto Blue Jays), Jesus Montero (New York Yankees), Mike Moustakas (Kansas City Royals), Brandon Belt (San Francisco Giants), Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves), Mike Minor (Atlanta Braves) and/or any other top prospect expected to get playing time that I have missed.
Last season’s Wild Card winning franchises are no strangers to success. The New York Yankees have failed to make the playoffs just once—in 2008—in the last 16 seasons. The Atlanta Braves returned to the playoffs, after missing five seasons in a row, but before that they had made the playoffs in 14 straight seasons. They differ in the amount of money they spend on their teams, with the Braves at a modest $86 million while the Yankees are paying their players a whopping $196 million.
For reasons that haven’t made themselves clear yet I am unofficially marking today as the opening of Fantasy Season. Recently, last year’s booms and busts(yeah yeah, you got Cargo in the 14th. I’ll put it on your epitaph) have been discussed over cold beers and crisp, clean fantasy magazines with only the faintest beginnings of chicken-scratched notes. And because I spent more of Superbowl Sunday preparing for drafts that are still over a month away than I did watching football, I feel obligated to share findings, musings and other points of interest with the readers of this post. Both of you.
In Fantasy Baseball there are few things to brag about. It’s a rarity for an owner to completely dodge the three headed monster of slumps, injuries and woulda-coulda-shoulda draft choices. You either win or you made a great pick that you can still brag about in the off-season or keep for next year. I can hear the Pavlovian drooling at the thought of my notes so we better get down to it.
In 2010, the best teams in all of Major League Baseball came from the East Division in each league. Both divisions were home to the wild card winners, the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees. They were also home to baseball’s two best records, 97 by the Philadelphia Phillies and 96 by the Tampa Bay Rays. What fate awaits the monsters of last year’s regular season? Will these teams once again be playing in October?
The simple answer for the Phillies is yes. In fact, anything short of a second World Series championship in four seasons—having won in 2008—would be an utter disappointment. A starting rotation like the Phillies had last season made Charlie Manuel’s managing job easy. His club posted 14 complete games, the most in the Major Leagues. Managing a bullpen is certainly easier when your starters are going deep into games. This will not change for Manuel as he will still have the three staff aces; Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels, who carried Philadelphia to the playoffs.