Dealing With Strengths
Speaking of impact hitter Arizona Phil yesterday was. And I agree: the Cubs should extend Derrek Lee this winter. I see the chances of Lee walking away after another fine year in 2006 as too high, and the consequences of that - the hostile fan reaction, the price and difficulty that would come with replacing him - as too dangerous. That said, I think a deal for Lee such as the one Arizona Phil was proposing is just as dangerous. So here's the pretty complicated new contract I propose the Cubs try to get Lee to sign this winter... In 2006, a guaranteed $13m, a $3.5m improvement or so on what he's owed for 2006 under the terms of his current deal. From 2007-09, a guaranteed $7m per year, with another $2m per year if he reaches 550 plate appearances, another $3m bonus for each top ten placing in NL MVP voting, another $3m bonus for each top three placing (such that a top three placing would earn him $6m in total). A $15m mutual option for 2010 versus a $3m buyout. Finally, a full no-trade clause up until the end of the 2007 season, and the right to block a trade to, say, five teams of his choice thereafter. In total, the deal could be worth anywhere between $37m/4yrs and $73m/5yrs. I did warn you it was pretty complicated. [UPDATE: Trying to build in protection against injury is somewhat superfluous because of the existence of such a thing as insurance, it now occurs to me. Duh! Given also that Lee's recent health history is as good as they come, I'd have little problem guaranteeing the money tied to plate appearances, as such taking the guaranteed money up to $43m/4yrs.] Why might Lee jump at it? Well, he can boost his 2006 salary here and now, and so start reaping the rewards of his superb 2005 right away, which he'd otherwise have to postpone until free agency. He also guarantees himself a very considerable amount of guaranteed money from 2007-09, money that he could quite easily never see if he pushes for free agency but succumbs to injury or has a terrible year in 2006. At the same time though, Lee isn't having to give up on a big pay day for the sake of immediate long-term financial security: this deal allows him to earn $15m a year every time he puts up MVP calibre numbers over a full season, which is roughly what he'd be looking at via free agency based on recent deals given to Konerko, Delgado and Thome. Neither is he completely giving up on the idea of ever seeing free agency, since the deal only ties him to the Cubs through his age 33 season. At that point, if he wanted, he could decline his half of the mutual option and try to get a another big contract on the free agent market. Finally, by signing this contract now, Lee shows loyalty to the Cubs and the city of Chicago, doesn't portray himself as a free agent mercenary, and he can book himself a nice long break in the Caribbean next winter rather than worrying about where his next home will be, where his next paycheck's coming from. Why should the Cubs jump at it? The Cubs show the same loyalty to Lee, they commit to him in advance and they offer him a no-trade clause. But the real key to this particular deal for the Cubs is that has its own built-in insurance. If Derrek Lee was for real in 2005, and Lee rattles off .300/.400/.600 seasons over the next few years, he gets paid accordingly, up to $73m/5yrs. But there's also the very realistic possibility that Lee reverts back to his old .270/.370/.500 self, that he gets injured, that he simply declines with age. Because a lot of the money in the deal is tied up in bonuses and the option, such that Lee would end up with no more than the equivalent of a $27.5m/3yr [UPDATE: $33.5m/3yr) free agent deal from, say, the Dodgers next winter if he were to go Todd Hundley on us, the Cubs can avoid a good chunk of the bad contract-ness. That's still actually better than Lee's current deal, and an awful lot of money, a bad contract still to be sure. Not that Lee's agent is likely to see things that way, maybe arguing that his client can get a much more guaranteed money if he just holds out for free agency. That though would raise the interesting contradiction that Lee trusts his ability to stay healthy and to hit for one year (long enough to get to free agency), but not for three or four. In that case, why should any team, presumably less subjectively bullish than Lee himself as to his career prospects, make him any kind of long-term big-money commitment? In other words, if Lee rejects this kind of deal on the grounds that there isn't enough guaranteed money involved, he's forsaking loyalty and earning his corn for the possibility of financially exploiting the sheer stupidity that strikes other General Managers when the free agent market gets in motion. Greed. I really don't think that that's what Lee's about, which is why I'd offer him this deal, confident that he'd like it, but if it is what he's about, he's probably not what the Cubs really need anyway. No, if that is what he's all about, maybe what we need is some non-tendered Hee Seop Choi! Well, maybe not. I rant and I rave at you these days, Jim, but credit where credit's due, great trade.
crunch 1 hour 2 min ago (view)
...and strop gives up a hit then walks the bases loaded.
...and he closes it out with a K. neat.
this is the 1st cubs road series win since May 17-19 @WAS.
crunch 1 hour 10 min ago (view)
strop comes in to get the last out, but it has to be some kinda slow-walk back in a game that wasn't a save situation.
homer, hbp, k, k...looks healthy.
crunch 1 hour 18 min ago (view)
welcome back kimbrel.
1st pitch goes about 10 miles outside the park by marte.
crunch 1 hour 49 min ago (view)
one takeaway from this game...a slew of cubs players were fans of Hey Arnold! when they were kids.
crunch 2 hours 44 min ago (view)
woo, a good cubs away game.
crunch 4 hours 55 min ago (view)
heyward / cast / bryant / rizzo / baez / schwarb / caratini / kemp(2nd) / Q
crunch 6 hours 16 min ago (view)
so stoked for the williamsport game.
the increasing amount of off-site games is a bit concerning (middle of nowhere Field of Dreams field, really?), but I love this one. it's played out great so far and giving the kids playing in the LL series some primo seats (hope this continues) is a great touch.
Arizona Phil 7 hours 37 min ago (view)
Craig Kimbrel reinstated from IL, Duane Underwood Jr optioned to Iowa, Mark Zagunis recalled as the "26th man" for tonight's game (special travel required to get to Williamsport so MLB Comissioner permits 26th man for both clubs).
crunch 1 day 1 hour ago (view)
Charlie 1 day 2 hours ago (view)
Lester pitched 35 innings today.
crunch 1 day 5 hours ago (view)
2019...cubs fan...being thankful heyward and chatwood are around...wtf...
Eric S 1 day 6 hours ago (view)
Like having a 5-1 lead going into the ninth?
Dolorous Jon Lester 1 day 7 hours ago (view)
With our vaunted late inning tandem of Tyler Chatwood and Rowan Wick!
Who would have thought?
Jackstraw 1 day 7 hours ago (view)
Cubs 1-10 with RISP in the series. Left lots of ducks on the pond. Could take some of the pressure off the pen.
Jackstraw 1 day 7 hours ago (view)
You could hit your thumb with a hammer. Or take a big bite of wayyyy too hot pizza. Just sayin.
Eric S 1 day 7 hours ago (view)
I’m a little surprised and confused that Bote wasn’t in the infield in the ninth? Wth - need that one out boot to complete my day