Earlier this week, I saw this news and scratched my head:
The [Tampa Bay] Devil Rays and Travis Harper agreed to a one-year, $850,000 Major League contract Monday...Psssst, for those who know nothing about baseball....Harper's statistics (and his performance) in 2005 were awful. Truly bad, bad, bad.
Harper, 29, led the Rays' bullpen with 73 1/3 innings pitched in 2005 while going 4-6 with a 6.75 ERA in 52 games.
And the Rays gave him nearly a million bucks, guaranteed.
By contrast, the Cincinnati Reds (who currently have only an interim General Manager) yesterday signed relief pitcher Rick White to a much smarter deal
White, a 37-year-old from Springfield, Ohio, will receive a $600,000 base salary with a chance to earn $300,000 more in incentive bonuses....For every nine innings pitched in 2005, White gave up three fewer earned runs than did Harper. They are both right-handed, so that's a wash.
Cincinnati will be White's ninth big-league club. Last season with Pittsburgh, he posted a 4-7 record with a 3.72 ERA and two saves in a career-high 71 appearances.
Yet, the Rays are assured of paying Harper a quarter of a million dollars more cash in 2006 than what White is guaranteed.
Of course, White is not a star, he is 8 years older that Harper (which is bad, generally), and he could end up costing more money in 2006 (basically, if he is healthy and pitches a lot). Nonetheless, for his career, White has been a slightly above average reliever, giving up about 7% fewer runs than an average pitcher.
The Harper deal stinks. Yes, he was a pretty decent reliever in 2003 and 2004, but he gave up a lot of home runs last year and his strikeout rate collapsed. Those are bad signs for any pitcher. For his career, Harper has yielded almost 10% more runs than league average.
I'm not especially applauding the Reds -- just pointing out the obvious about the DRays. Tampa Bay (despite new management) does not seem to know what it is doing and is (again) overspending on mediocre talent that could be replaced at lower cost.
All that said, I think a number of Devil Rays are on the verge of some highly productive years (especially offensively) and the team could really surprise fans in the next year or two.
With that kind of convoluted analysis, can you tell that I'm almost ready for baseball season?
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