Non-News in the News: A-Rod's Salary is Astro-Nomical
Nobody, including Alex Rodriguez, will argue that he is overpaid.
The subject of a player's worth has been a topic of conversation ever since he signed that $252million contract with Texas prior to the 2001 season. Ask former owner Tom Hicks how that worked out.
There were cautionary tales well befoe the ink was dry on that deal. Remember Kevin Brown? The hot-at-the-time right-handed hurler was the first to break the $100million barrier back in 1998. However, despite his accomplishments at the start of his contract term, Brown's virtual disappearance at the end left only the size of his salary as a talking point. In the end, it effectively overshadowed his career.
To add insult to injury (literally), Alex Rodriguez will make more this year than all the Houston Astros combined, and that is without his even playing the first half of the season, if at all. Mind you, it's debatable that the Astros will be playing the first half of the season, too.
What should be made of all this? It seems unethical for a single player to be making more than an entire team. But who is to blame, the Yankees or the Astros? Or is it the system iteself?
After all, unless you're Tom Hicks, players aren't going to be paid what the team isn't generating in revenues. Look at it this way, if an established organization comes to you and offers an incredible raise over what you're earning now, are you going to refuse?
Required reading on this topic should be John Helyar's brilliant Lords of the Realm, an account of the abject stupdity and lack of foresight compiled by baseball's owners from Day One. Regarding modern-day contract policies, the book contains an account where, ironically, Oakland Athletics owner Charles O Finley was the only owner sharp enough to understand market economics. Had Finley's colleagues not dismissed him as a crackpot -- and he often gave them reason -- it could well be that megalodonic deals would never have evolved as they did.
Houston's payroll this season is incredibly low, their record last season shows why, and it's clear the Astros' plan this season is to wrap up next year's first spot in the amateur draft as early as possible. But on the flip side, the Yankees are on track to have the highest payroll on Opening Day for the 15th straight year. Not only do they have A-Rod but three teammates who, with him, comprise four of the six highest paid players in baseball: A-Rod, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and now Vernon Wells. (Yes, Vernon Wells. What does it tell you when his only sure value to the team is in the Yanks' financially finagling his long-term contract to ease their luxury tax hit?)
Will fans ever become numb to the announcement of these deals? While the back end of A-Rod's contract makes it one of the worst we'll ever see, he may not be alone for long. Justin Verlander just signed an extension that will pay him $28million per year between 2015-2019. That's also more than the Astros' entire payroll. Will he be able to justify it in his twilight years? Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton also have deals that pay them well over $25million in some years; Pujols' stats have been trending downward already, and Hamilton's hot streaks are more than offset by his offbeat absences and defensive space-outs.
It seems ridiculous for a sport to justify an entire team being paid less than an injury-prone third baseman who is no longer an All-Star when healthy, but with players' contracts increasing and teams like the Miami Marlins and Houston Astros forsaking all hope of being competitive in the near term, this most likely won't be the last of the Astro-nominal headlines.