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  1. But don’t you think that in every CBA negotiation guaranteed contracts is a component of ownership’s opening negotiating position? If teams released players with that much guaranteed money and years left on their deals, that would completely negate that position. Take away the beef with guaranteed contracts and the next most extreme position is what? Draft slotting? The players would welcome that development, because when opening negotiating positions soften for one side or another, the other side looks completely reasonable getting concessions that were off the table in the past.

    Comment by Paul — March 4, 2011 @ 10:07 am

  2. I think a lot of it is hoping you weren’t that far off on your initial assessment of the player, that he recaptures the magic that made him worth $15m/year or whatever they’re being paid.

    I think the other part is they’re just hoping to find anyone to trade the contract to so that they can get a replacement player without asking the owner for more money, or while saving the owner money. It makes the GM look better to his boss rather than acting “carelessly” by throwing that money away and cutting ties with the player.

    Comment by Jim Lahey — March 4, 2011 @ 10:22 am

  3. I believe the plural of “albatross,” Jack, is “albatrosseseses.”

    Get it right, dude.

    Comment by Carson Cistulli — March 4, 2011 @ 10:41 am

  4. “Albatrai”?

    Comment by Levi — March 4, 2011 @ 10:55 am

  5. Albatrossii?

    Comment by Jason B — March 4, 2011 @ 10:57 am

  6. The crazy thing is, Zito really isn’t that bad for a fourth or fifth starter. He is overpaid, but a 4.25 FIP is what Phil Hughes had last year.

    Comment by bill — March 4, 2011 @ 11:12 am

  7. Obviously its a sunk cost, but when your alternative is Jeff Suppan, you are probably better off holding on. In this case, marginal benefit > marginal cost.

    Comment by Chops — March 4, 2011 @ 11:19 am

  8. Albatrossies

    Comment by CircleChange11 — March 4, 2011 @ 11:40 am

  9. Carlos Lee is really a negative WAR because of his terrible defense which while typically bad, was career worst bad in 2010. He likely has more value in the American League. But if they can sort it out he can be good for 1.0 WAR. I can’t think of many multiple year – WAR players signed to hefty contracts though and I don’t think yout ake one year to totally give up on a player (though it may be a good time to seek alternatives).

    Comment by David Wishinsky — March 4, 2011 @ 11:41 am

  10. Carson you’re overesd.

    Comment by maqman — March 4, 2011 @ 11:44 am

  11. B.J. Ryan of the Blue Jays a couple of years ago was an interesting release. I guess the team felt he was easily replaceable, as well as having no real hope in anyone’s eyes of regaining his form.

    Comment by sporkless — March 4, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

  12. This may not be completely on topic but the reason why I love baseball so much is because of guaranteed contracts. Football fans look at them and think they are crazy, but baseball takes a lot more managing skills to put together a good team. If you sign a guy, there should be some risk-reward involved, I don’t think it’s fair in the NFL for the player and the owners to be able to cut a guy one year into a five year deal and barely pay anything out. It’s like a get out of jail free card and you should have to suffer a bit more if you make bad signings. I hope guaranteed contracts stay in baseball because they make teams do more research and spend their money wisely.

    Comment by Pat — March 4, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

  13. albatrisoscelestrianglesesses, I believe is the term you were looking for.

    Comment by TheBishop — March 4, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

  14. albatron?

    Comment by fredsbank — March 4, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

  15. I do wonder how much PR is in play. Releasing the player is admitting defeat and if the players goes off and is marginally useful elsewhere the GM just looks like a food again. We see that all the time with late blooming prospects.

    Comment by Gricomet — March 4, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

  16. You can’t have guaranteed contracts and a hard cap. It just doesn’t work. Also, football players do get portions of their contracts guaranteed, but it is always worded as a signing bonus.

    With no cap, or a soft cap like the NBA, guaranteed contracts can work, but this is also why we keep hearing about non-guaranteed contracts (or only the first 3 years guaranteed) in the new NBA CBA, along with a hard cap.

    Comment by Mike — March 4, 2011 @ 2:25 pm

  17. This joke is an albatrocity.*

    Not really, but otherwise I couldn’t make MY terrible joke.

    Comment by Steve — March 4, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

  18. No, it’s Alakazam.

    Comment by ThundaPC — March 4, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

  19. There is nothing stopping contracts from having buyout and opt out clauses in them at any point in the contract or at multiple points. It’s all in what the market will bear and what can be negotiated before the contract is signed. If the entire value of a contract can be wiped out simply by releasing the player, then it’s pretty much of a travesty of a contract. Yes, I think football contracts are travesties.

    Comment by DrBGiantsfan — March 4, 2011 @ 3:31 pm

  20. “the Gm just looks like a food again.”

    - Maybe, but MOST of us are not cannibals or zombies.

    Comment by Look — March 4, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

  21. When GMs see a player like Pat Burrell cut and then signed by SF, where he goes on to post good offensive numbers that help the Giants get to the World Series…I’m sure it reminds the GMs to be cautious in giving up on a player with a big contract.

    With a guy like Carlos Lee, he posted WARs of 2.1 and 3.9 in 2009 and 2008. The Astros don’t have a lot to lose by waiting and hoping that he can produce at something close to that level in 2011. And Lee is the Astros’ only real alternative at 1st base if Brett Wallace doesn’t work out.

    Comment by CJ — March 4, 2011 @ 4:02 pm

  22. Albatrossen

    Comment by joser — March 4, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

  23. Doesn’t the NHL have guaranteed contracts and a hard cap?

    Comment by AJS — March 4, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

  24. Carlos Lee posted a career-low BABIP last year. True, he also posted a career-low LD%, although it wasn’t substantially lower than 2007, when his BABIP was 60 points higher. Yes, he’s getting older, but I think he can have a nice bounceback to being a 2 WAR player like he was in 2009. I don’t think you can do better than him that easily.

    Comment by AJS — March 4, 2011 @ 4:13 pm

  25. Good one! We Brian Regan fans are all laughing.

    Comment by Mike P — March 4, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

  26. heres what i dont with the beef with carlos lee. he can still hit, the only player on the astros that might challenge him is hunter pence, thats it. and as we saw with the mariners last year, you need to score runs to win.

    i just dont see how getting rid of the best hitter on a team that scored the 3rd fewest runs in baseball is a good idea.

    Comment by steve — March 4, 2011 @ 7:08 pm

  27. i wasnt aware teams are currently spending their money wisely. just look at what the topic of this post is.

    the arguments for non guaranteed contracts is 1) small market teams dont get killed for years if they sign a big FA who busts 2) there is incentive for players to maintain their performance levels (i think thats more applicable to the nfl and nba) 3) it allows better players to make more money

    Comment by steve — March 4, 2011 @ 7:12 pm

  28. i dont think PR has anything to do with it, player performance does. players sign huge contracts bc they are (or were) good. the 25th man on every MLB roster probably has 0 upside, while a player, who used to be good, but now is overpaid, still has the chance to be good again.

    since the salary is a sunk cost, would you rather have barry zito or todd wellemeyer? i dont think anyone beside mrs wellemeyer would answer him.

    Comment by steve — March 4, 2011 @ 7:58 pm

  29. Both of ‘em.

    Comment by Jason B — March 5, 2011 @ 1:24 am

  30. it is the other GMs that are the Zombies

    Comment by kick me in the GO NATS — March 5, 2011 @ 4:25 am

  31. There’s no “tangible” reason to release a player from any contract if they’re above replacement level.

    Comment by Oscar — March 5, 2011 @ 6:51 am

  32. albatrosofragilisticexpialidocious

    Comment by Joe S. — March 5, 2011 @ 9:42 pm

  33. What if you have a replacement for that player who is almost certainly more valuable? For example, replacing Zito with, say, Shaun Marcum.

    Comment by Josh Amaral — March 6, 2011 @ 1:27 am

  34. The rumors about Zito were so ridiculous that that was the real story, not Zito. The numbers are not overly meaningful, but Lincecum had a 3.43 while Zito had a 4.15. That 0.72. As long as he is a viable #5, there is no reason to get rid of him.

    With Lee, prior to 2010, he had 4 straight seasons with 26+ HRs and a .300+.

    And don’t go blaming the GM. How could anyone have foreseen that he wouldn’t be able to play the OF anymore?

    Comment by Joey B — March 6, 2011 @ 9:38 pm

  35. If you were talking about trading for Marcum, you wouldn’t. If you were talking about promoting Marcum, you’d probably leave him in the minors so as not to start the clock.

    Comment by Joey B — March 6, 2011 @ 9:39 pm

  36. what a boring article

    “Here’s some stuff everyone knows” by Jack Moore

    Comment by Andy — March 6, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

  37. which is why the stanley cup winner had to dismantle their team immediately after winning – not because they didn’t want to keep and pay the players they developed but because they weren’t allowed to do so

    Comment by miffleball — March 6, 2011 @ 11:55 pm

  38. Just to be picky, since a player’s salary is a sunk cost he has to be slightly below replacement to make it worthwhile to release him. Why would you pay an extra $300,000 on a replacement player if you won’t save anything by releasing the 0 WAR player? I know $300,000 isn’t a lot of money, but it is still worth mentioning.

    Comment by Fred — March 7, 2011 @ 7:20 am

  39. I’m pretty sure everyone could see he was awful in the OF even before this contract. Expecting him to get anything but much worse was foolhardy.

    Comment by Tim — March 7, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

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