Here's every morning in the Dolan households: Wake up. Grab newspaper. Open sports section. Gasp. Pull covers back over head. Curl up in fetus position. Rinse. Repeat.
The contracts look like Mega Millions jackpots. And owners are handing them out like candy from a parade float. The Cubs alone have committed almost as much money in salaries over the next eight years as Larry Dolan did in buying the Indians six years ago:
- * $136 million for 8 years for OF Alfonso Soriano after his career year
- * $75 million for 5 years for 3B Aramis Ramirez
- * $13 million for 3 years for 31-year-old 2B Mark DeRosa and his .273 career batting average
- * $5.25 million for 2 years of C Henry Blanco and his career sub-.300 OBP
Then there's the $31 million the Baltimore Orioles will be paying out over the next three years to former Tribe closer Danys Baez and lefty specialist Jamie Walker; the $100 million over the next six years OF Carlos Lee will receive from the Houston Astros; the $50 million over the next 5 years that the Los Angeles Angels will give Gary Matthews after his one good year; the $14 million over the next 3 years that SS Alex Gonzalez and his .255 career batting average will receive from the Reds; and the $18 million over the next four years that former Tribe mopup man Justin Speier will be spending thanks to the Angels.
The Indians said they'd have more money to spend on payroll this offseason. But what they didn't say was that everybody else would have a LOT more money to spend on payroll this offseason. Labor peace in the sport has prompted teams to spend like it's Black Friday at Wal-Mart, just without the deals. Ironically, Larry Dolan received praise for helping hammer out that new contract, which put baseball's 32 teams a collective $500 million in the black.
It started a couple weeks ago at the general managers' meetings when the Boston Red Sox paid $51.1 million for the rights simply to negotiate with Japanese pitching sensation Daisuke Matsuzaka and his agent Scott Boras -- kinda like paying tribute to a mob boss before actually sitting down with him. Indians president Paul Dolan said:
"I guess I'm shocked by it. I'm not sure I understand the economics of such a deal. It demonstrates that we have more work to do on the economic disparity within the game."
Hey, a Dolan complaining about baseball finances! On the scale of baseball shockers, that's up there with Manny Ramirez misplaying a fly ball, the Kansas City Royals losing 100 games, and the Indians bullpen blowing a save. Vegas won't even post odds on those events.
But don't worry, as always the Tribe's master plan is in place. This time it comes in the form of outfielder David Dellucci. That's right, another platoon player! The Indians become Dellucci's sixth team since he entered the majors in 1997. For two of those teams -- the Baltimore Orioles (1997) and New York Yankees (2003) -- he collected less than 60 at-bats. For the others -- the Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2003), Texas Rangers (2004-2006), Philadelphia Phillies (2006) -- he played almost exclusively against right-handed pitching. From 2002 on, Dellucci has just 165 ABs against left-handed pitching, but 1,475 ABs overall. Nearly 85 percent of the time Dellucci fills a platoon role. And in that 15 percent against lefties? 23 hits! That's a .147 batting average.
Given those numbers, if Dellucci actually does become the Indians' everyday left fielder, as his agent says, then Mark Shapiro should stop getting out of bed in the morning, too. As it is, they've got another platoon player for the outfield. Dellucci can split time with Jason Michaels in left, while Shin Soo-Choo takes turns with Casey Blake in right. Or if Casey Blake actually does go play first base -- which would be like putting Ugly Betty in a beauty pageant -- then maybe Dellucci can play some right field as well. Just hopefully not against a lefty.
Back to bed now, Larry and Paul.