Welcome Keith Law haters! I’m sure you morons will have lots to piss and moan about with this one, as KLaw made his debut as co-host of the recorded-through-tin-cans-sounding ESPN Baseball Today podcast this afternoon, and punctuated it with a little analysis of the Jays’ recent big signing. It’s not anything we haven’t heard before, only maybe a little more harsh than usual. Still, you may want to cover your ears… er… eyes…
ERIK KARABELL: Mr. Law, is this a good contract?
KEITH LAW: No. Of course not. [Laughs]. You have a player with an extremely spotty track record of performance and playing time who has one wildly outlying breakout year. You do not rush to give this guy a five-year contract, because the history of players like that– particularly players– I mean, it’s not like Jose Bautista is 24 or 25 and just kind of emerged as a hitter. He’s way past that point. The history of those guys is very poor. He’s extremely unlikely to maintain that level of production.
The Rogers Centre last year played as a crazy home run park, and particularly for Blue Jays hitters, which is a very unusual split, and sure enough, Bautista was substantially better at home– another thing that I just don’t think he is at all likely to maintain. And the fact that he is pretty much a dead pull hitter, you can bet that over the course of this off-season plenty of front offices across the American League were looking at Bautista, saying, ‘why aren’t we pitching this guy differently?’ You will see that come into play in 2011.
So, the park isn’t going to play the same way, he’s just going to regress because– let’s face it– he is a lot more of what he was before 2010.
And don’t give me September splits, that’s a joke. Who do you face in September? You face the guys at the back of the 40-man roster.
He’s going to be pitched differently in 2011. There are a slew of factors pointing to him taking at least a big step back for 2011, and maybe going all the way back, closer to what he was before the 2010 breakout season. You don’t sign flukes to long-term deals. If he repeats it a second year, then you talk contract extension with him. But to jump on this one after one year that looks so different than everything that came before it in his career just made no sense.
And by the way, you just got rid of the albatross contract in Vernon Wells, why are you rushing to create at least the potential for a similar contract?
… After some interjection from Karabell and Mark Simon, Law added …
And he’d be hitting free agency at age 31. So, if he’s telling you this off-season ‘I want a five year deal’– I’m not signing Jose Bautista for his age 31 through 35 seasons, because I’m rarely signing any hitter for those seasons. By that point he’s already leaving his peak, you know you’re buying into at least some of the decline years. And a guy like Bautista, who did so little in his 20s, why do I think he’s going to maintain his value well into his 30s? I’m betting he’s going to decline faster than the typical hitter, again, for the same reason: it’s just such a screaming outlier, what he did in 2010.
Yeah… uhhhhmmm… ouch.