We all know it’s been a bearish free-agent market. If you talked to Chuck (as the Charles Schwab ads urge you to) he’d tell you to stay away.
The most sobering aspect isn’t even the number of truly high-profile free agents who remain unsigned a week before Spring Training camps pitch their tents.
It is the number of players who have signed for significant pay cuts, a rarity during better times.
The Top Ten hits (and, really, this is just the tip of the iceberg):
- Jason Giambi: $15.75 million ($21 million with Yankees to $5.25 million with A’s).
- Mike Hampton: $13 M ($15 M with Braves to $2 M with Astros).
- Andy Pettitte: $10.5 M ($16 M to $5.5 M with Yankees).
- Carl Pavano: $9.5 M ($11 M with Yankees to $1.5 M with Indians).
- Pat Burrell: $7 M ($14 M with Phillies to $7 M with Rays).
- Omar Vizquel: $4.9 M ($5.3 M with Giants to Minor deal with Rangers).
- Jason Varitek: $4 M ($9 M to $5 M with Red Sox).
- Angel Berroa: $3.95 M ($4.75 M with Dodgers to Minor deal with Yankees, valued at $800,000 if on big-league roster.
- Juan Uribe: $3.5 M ($4.5 M with White Sox to Minor deal with Giants, valued at $1 M if on big-league roster).
- Brad Penny: $3.5 M ($8.5 M with Dodgers to $5 M with Red Sox).
Given this climate, incidentally, you have to wonder about the mental states of Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett for getting those fat deals from the Yankees. It takes a mighty strong personality to shrug off feelings of guilt often spawned by such discrepancy.
Only one of those three appears to have it. We’ll see how they hold up to the scrutiny. …
COMMISSIONER Bud Selig, former president Bill Clinton, Hall of Famer Dave Winfield and media magnate Ted Turner highlighted the guest list for Thursday night’s gala celebration of Hank Aaron’s 75th birthday. You wonder who will show up for Barry Bonds’ 75th birthday party in 2039. Aaron’s fete was held in a downtown Atlanta hotel; Bonds will probably be able to hold his in a tool shed. …
MATT BUSH: Well, Peoria will be a safer place this spring without the Padres’ troubled former No. 1 draft pick. Borrowing from the official police report of the recent incident that led to the club designating him from assignment, it didn’t take long for him to go from shouting that he is “Matt (bleeping) Bush” to becoming Matt (bleeped) Bush. …