Perspective on the Mets bad contracts

Fans hate the Luis Castillo contract and fear that Bengie Molina will be the next disaster deal for the club. Here I look at some truly bad contracts around MLB to put the Castillo and Oliver Perez deals into perspective. There have been some ugly rumors surrounding the Mets this offseason and it is hard not to be upset about most of them.

I channel my inner John McEnroe — “You cannot be serious!” — whenever I hear reports about multi-year deals and vesting options for Bengie Molina.

I’m not thrilled about the Jason Bay rumors when a better option is available in Matt Holliday and I am scared that the starting pitcher they end up with will be Joel Pineiro.

But really, what has Omar Minaya ever done to deserve the reputation as a dumb general manager?

Did he give a 5 year/$50 million contract to Gary Matthews Jr.?

Did he give a 6 year/$100 million contract to Carlos Lee?

Did he give a 6 year/$66 million contract to Eric Chavez?

Did he give a 7 year/$126 million contract to Vernon Wells?

Did he give a 4 year/$60 million contract to Derek Lowe?

Did he give a 4 year/$42 million contract to Jeff Suppan?

Did he give a 4 year/$41 million contract to Kyle Lohse?

Did he give an 8 year/$136 million contract to Alfonso Soriano?

Did he give a 3 year/$30 million contract to Eric Byrnes?

Did he give a 2 year/$45 million contract to Manny Ramirez?

Did he give a 7 year/$126 million contract to Barry Zito?

Did he give a 4 year/$57 million contract to Travis Hafner?

Did he give a 4 year/$48 million contract to Carlos Silva?

Did he give a 5 year/$80 million contract to Michael Young?

Did he give an 8 year/$90 million contract to Scott Rolen?

Did he give a 6 year/$52 million contract to Daisuke Matsuzaka (after spending $51 million plus on the posting fee?)

Did he give a 3 year/$36 million contract to Jose Guillen?

Did he give a 5 year/$75 million contract to Magglio Ordonez?

Did he give a 5 year/$44 million contract to Juan Pierre?

Did he give a 7 year/$69 million contract to Alex Rios?

These are just current contracts that are true albatrosses. And there could be other ones mentioned, like Dontrelle Willis or Milton Bradley or Carlos Zambrano or Aaron Rowand and so on. I think it is safe to say that there are 20 contracts currently in MLB worse than ones that “haunt” the Mets.

So, what are the team’s bad contracts?

Oliver Perez at 3 years/$36 million

Luis Castillo at 4 years/$24 million

And Castillo earned his contract last season. FanGraphs shows him with a 1.6 WAR, which they calculate as being worth $7.2 million, nearly a million more (once you factor in his signing bonus) than what he was paid last year.

I wish I kept a running list of all of the bad players/contracts that Minaya was allegedly giving out or taking on while leading the Mets. He was going to mortgage the farm for Manny Ramirez, he was going to back up a truckload of money to sign Sammy Sosa, he was going to trade for Willis, he was going to flip Castillo for either Bradley or Pat Burrell (only one year left, but massively overpaid at $9 million for this season. FanGraphs had Burrell earning -$2.7 million last year). You probably remember others, too.

And none of those happened.

Both of the “bad” contracts currently on the team came from players who Minaya already had on the squad, not brand new additions to the team. Previously, Orlando Hernandez and Moises Alou fit this same pattern of receiving what turned out to be bad deals after previously performing adequately or better with the Mets. This does not bode well for Jeff Francoeur, who might end up with the rumored multi-year deal. But it does offer hope that the team won’t go overboard with the Molinas, Pineiros and Orlando Hudsons on the free agent market.

The point of this post is not to say that Omar Minaya is a genius. There are no shortages of moves and non-moves to criticize in his tenure as the Mets’ general manager. Instead, it is a gentle reminder that the rumors of his incompetence far outstrip the reality, especially compared to other GMs and the contracts they have handed out.

I am upset with the Molina rumors. But until he actually ends up on the team, I am going to hold out hope that Minaya’s previous track record indicates that he will not make a nonsensical move like signing an ancient catcher to a multi-year deal.

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