The Most Delusional Man On The Planet

Gary Matthews Jr is not a good baseball player. He’s also completely unaware of this. Here’s a quote from the LA Times:

“I don’t expect to be back; it’s time to move on,” outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. said as he packed his belongings in the team’s Angel Stadium clubhouse today. “I’m ready to play for an organization that wants me to play every day. This organization has other plans, and that’s OK.”

And about that contract of his?

“It’s definitely not as big as it was a year ago,” Matthews said. “Obviously, there are some teams that can’t afford it, but when I’m playing every day, I feel I can be a top-line center fielder, and that, I would think, is what a lot of teams want.”

.

Well, he is right about one thing – his contract is not as large as it was a year ago. It’s still a boat anchor of a deal for a player who has basically no chance of ever starting for another major league team again. Over the first three seasons of his contract with Anaheim, Matthews has been worth -$5.3 million in salary. That minus sign is not a typo. Given his performance relative to the value that could have been found by playing any random Triple-A guy instead, Matthews owes the Angels $5.3 million for taking wins off the board. Even without the contract, he’d have a hard time convincing anyone to employ him in 2010 after two straight seasons of below replacement level production.

The contract makes it impossible for the Angels to trade him, so in the end, they’ll just end up releasing him, at which point Mr. Matthews may be shocked to learn that other teams do not share his optimism about his ability to still be a top-line center fielder. He’s 35 years old and hasn’t shown any ability to hit or field since 2006. The market for aging veterans has collapsed the last few years, as useful players such as Kenny Lofton, Ray Durham, and Frank Thomas have been forced into early retirement against their wishes. Teams simply aren’t willing to use roster spots on players that they feel will create problems in reserve roles, choosing instead to give opportunities to hungry twenty somethings who will work their tails off to live the dream.

Over the last three years, Matthews has proven that he’s not worthy of a starting job and not willing to accept a reserve role, so in the end, he’s probably going to find himself with a new job entirely – one that has nothing to do with playing major league baseball. Sorry, Gary, but you probably just talked yourself right out of the game.




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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


63 Responses to “The Most Delusional Man On The Planet”

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  1. bowie says:

    I really enjoy this web site, especially the writing of Dave Cameron, but I have to say this post is gratuitous and mean-spirited.

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    • Dave Cameron says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      After re-reading it, you’re right, it was overly hostile. I re-wrote it.

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      • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

        Oh god dammit. Now my post below makes no sense.

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      • Matt L says:

        Huh, interesting rewrite Mr. Cameron.

        I could easily be mistaken in my remembrance of the first version, but this update seems to be a more damning conclusion wrapped in ‘nicer’ packaging.

        As I remember, the first version suggested Matthews to be extremely foolish and perhaps ungrateful. This new version is suggesting he is still both of those things, but also a trouble maker who could expect to lose his job and go on paid vacation.

        I think you’re right on all accounts, it’s just funny that this is the ‘nice version.’

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  2. CCW says:

    What do you expect Matthews to say? “I suck, was not worth my contract, and should retire?” In addition to being mean-spirited, the post is just dumb.

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    • Matt L says:

      No CCW, he’s supposed to say he’s going to work hard in the offseason and come back ready to contribute to the best of his ability.

      Saying, “I don’t expect to be back; it’s time to move on,” is absolutely ridiculous.

      There are, at least so far as I can tell, exactly two ways that Matthews isn’t an Angel next year.

      1. They cut him and eat the contract (extremely unlikely, but would improve the team they put on the field)

      2. They trade him and pay — I don’t even know — maybe 18-20 million of what he has left on his stupid, no good, very bad contract (Who wants Gary Matthews at any price? I don’t know)

      So for Gary to say he is moving on, as if he has options — very delusional.

      Nice work Mr. Cameron — expose overpaid whiners.

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  3. PhD Brian says:

    He could field when he was an Oriole, but that was a awhile ago. He is worth a 4th or 5th spot on some team.

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  4. The Typical Idiot Fan says:

    I have a question for the first two posters in this thread: why do you feel it’s your responsibility to respond with two equally asinine posts that bring nothing to the discussion?

    This post is “mean spirited”? Is it? A man is clearly making comments to the media that are laughably wrong and an appropriate response telling him so is mean spirited? I’d like to point out that these kinds of “mean spirited” posts are made routinely here at Fangraphs. The truth often looks mean spirited. Honesty can be cruel.

    This post is “dumb”? “Dumb” as in “can’t speak” or “dumb” as in “not intelligent”? Either way, both definitions are wrong.

    As for the notion that GMJ wasn’t going to say anything else, you do realize that there was a third option: not saying anything at all. How does the phrase go? “Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt”?

    Lastly, this site, like many others, is about player analysis. GMJ is not a good player. If Dave would have made this post without attributing any quotes to GMJ, would that have been mean spirited, gratuitous, or dumb? Is it the appearance of responding to inaccurate comments that brought your hackles up?

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    • bowie says:

      Actually, my comment brought quite a bit to the discussion since evidently the author decided to re-write the post because of it.
      Mr Cameron, good for you for toning down the rhetoric.

      As for Typical Idiot Fan, I will say I felt it was mean-spirited to mock and ridicule someone who has not done or said anything particularly harmful or in poor taste. It may appear laughably wrong to you and me to believe that Matthews can still be a good ballplayer, but I cannot hold it against him for believing in himself.

      If anyone deserves ridicule in this situation, it is the Angels front office. It is THEIR delusion that created this mess, not Matthews’.

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      • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

        “Actually, my comment brought quite a bit to the discussion since evidently the author decided to re-write the post because of it.”

        I know. Hence my post above underneath his where I am lamenting his change of heart. Now mine looks just ridiculous.

        Let’s move on:

        “I will say I felt it was mean-spirited to mock and ridicule someone who has not done or said anything particularly harmful or in poor taste. It may appear laughably wrong to you and me to believe that Matthews can still be a good ballplayer, but I cannot hold it against him for believing in himself.”

        Is he really believing in himself? I think Dave here has reached the same conclusion I have. There comes a point where believing in yourself becomes completely delusional. For example, I believe I can play right field better than Adam Dunn. Dunn being a hideous defender makes the comment somewhat interesting, but a huge stretch on reality. The reality is, no I can’t. Even as bad as Dunn is, I have no physical acumen for playing baseball and certainly no experience at the professional level.

        In the case of GMJ, he believes he can be a starting center fielder on another team and play full time. Great, I’m sure he could. The question is whether he’d be a good one at it. Statistically speaking, he’s not doing anything that would imply he’d make a good center fielder. Defensively he’s not that good. Offensively he’s not that good. Typically, you can shirk defense if you have really good offense at some positions, but for important skill positions like center field and short stop this just isn’t true. You need the defense aspect first, then you can worry about offense second. In this case, GMJ is neither.

        Thus, the next question becomes whether he sees that or not. Obviously he doesn’t. CCW is right in one aspect. No baseball player is going to say “I suck”, but at the same time you don’t have to act as if you’re being mistreated by your team by not playing regularly and / or that you deserve to play everyday as a starting center fielder. Matthews doesn’t go so far as to say that, but the implications from his comments are that he wants to go to another organization. Someplace where he can get what HE wants, not what the team wants. He believes that he will be beneficial to whatever team is willing to give him what he wants.

        This is where the delusions start coming in. Matthews is wrong if he believes that another team is going to give him what he wants for that reason. A team is going to give him what he wants if THEY believe he can be beneficial. Then there’s the contract…

        “If anyone deserves ridicule in this situation, it is the Angels front office. It is THEIR delusion that created this mess, not Matthews’.”

        Part of this is true. The contract, certainly, is on Stoneman’s head. However, it’s not as if Matthews was crying about it either. Contracts require two signatures. The Angels FO was stupid for offering it, certainly, and realistically no player is going to pass that up, but Matthews has to accept that his contract (that he agreed to) is also an anchor that will nix his value. He’s going to have to try really hard to validate that contract, and effort alone isn’t going to be enough. Jeff over at Lookout Landing made a great post about players deserving of championships, and how one of the criteria seems to be the desire to play hard but you also have to be good. As he puts it, “Joe McEwing probably worked his ass off, but effort isn’t enough. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a shitty player who tries really hard.”

        So Matthews is stuck in a quagmire. He has an albatross contract that few (if any) teams are going to want to take on, and even if they do, he’s going to have to validate his reason for even being there by actually being good. The Angels didn’t make GMJ not that good, they just gave him an extra heavy tire to drag along behind him.

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      • Sam says:

        Yeah, some people need to realize that this is not USS Mariner. It seems like some people are incredibly overeager to “protect” Dave Cameron. Maybe much more than Cameron himself.

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      • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

        “Yeah, some people need to realize that this is not USS Mariner. It seems like some people are incredibly overeager to “protect” Dave Cameron. Maybe much more than Cameron himself.”

        And your purpose here is what, exactly?

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      • Sam says:

        Pointing out that slavishly agreeing with everything Dave Cameron writes brings about the same value as disagreeing mindlessly with him? And that if Cameron feels like, he can address posts based on their merit?

        And, beyond that, I have no obligation to either have a purpose for being here, or reveal it to you. Get over yourself.

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      • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

        “Pointing out that slavishly agreeing with everything Dave Cameron writes brings about the same value as disagreeing mindlessly with him?”

        Oh right, because like minded people can’t agree. How silly of me.

        “And that if Cameron feels like, he can address posts based on their merit?”

        And he did. But I made my own bed and I’m sticking to it.

        “And, beyond that, I have no obligation to either have a purpose for being here, or reveal it to you. Get over yourself.”

        Oh right right right. So we’re going to continue down the asinine road, eh?

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      • Tim Raub says:

        OMG! As a Rangers fan, I am overjoyed that the Rangers did not resign GMJ when he left for the Angels.

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      • Sam says:

        “Oh right, because like minded people can’t agree. How silly of me.”

        I did not know sycophancy had a new definition, given that the agreement rate seems to be 150 percent. It seems like you are a less intelligent and a more acerbic version of Cameron.

        “Oh right right right. So we’re going to continue down the asinine road, eh?”

        Feel free to go down on your own. After all, you paved this “asinine road” with your unnecessarily inflammatory remarks.

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    • CCW says:

      Honestly, here’s where I’m coming from. I think Dave lets his rhetoric and his own personality obscure his analysis – which is usually spot on – far too often. I’m a long-time USSM reader who has gotten into it with Dave several times over this. He’ll write something that is hyperbolic, or wrong, or a personal attack, or ambiguous, and then refuse to own up to it in the comments, instead attacking the commenters. Now, in this case, he did exactly the opposite. He responded to a comment by admitting he may have gone a bit over the top. I totally applaud him for this, and if I could undo my comment now, I would.

      As to Gary Matthews, the LA Times was asking him questions. I’m guessing that’s where these quotes came from. I suppose he could have said “no comment”, but this is what people who are looking for better employment opportunities do… they talk about how good they are and will be. And probably in Matthews’ mind, he actually would do a better job if given the opportunity to play every day. I don’t think he is any more delusional than 90% of the other baseball players who underperformed their contracts last year, much less the “Most Delusional Man on the Planet”. Most of these guys think they’re better than they are.

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      • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

        Read your comments again. You’re actually almost making a case for why GMJ is delusional. It may be regular behavior amongst baseball players to think they’re better than they are, but wouldn’t that just make more of them delusional? If being delusional is normal, that still means you’re delusional, you’re just not weird.

        Besides, his comments seem loaded and calculated to me. He’s deliberately saying something he wants his bosses to hear. In that case, the Angels are going to make their own conclusions on GMJ and his value and so’s he rest of the league. What we’re doing here is simply what the rest of baseball is probably doing at this point: evaluating just how accurate (or not delusional) GMJ is.

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      • Ray says:

        To show your disapproval to an asinine response, you gave an asinine response, prompting me to gave another asinine response?

        I’ve gone cross-eyed.

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      • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

        I hear carrots are good for vision.

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  5. Choo says:

    I enjoyed both versions. Cold, hard facts are cold and hard for two reasons:

    1) Coldness.
    2) Hardness.

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    • Ricky Bobby says:

      “i’m as hard as a diamond in an ice storm”

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      • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

        What does that mean? Shouldn’t it be “I’m as cold and hard as a diamond in an ice storm”? Or does the ice storm somehow make diamonds more hard?

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      • lookatthosetwins says:

        Idiot,

        Anything is harder when its cold,

        but yeah, its supposed to be a joke.

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      • Johnny Cervelli says:

        Who the hell are you to say what anything should be? Why don’t you stop starting shit on the internet and go play mahjohng?

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      • MetsKnicksRutgers says:

        “I’m as firm as red clay and constant as… drinking… I’m constantly drinking.”

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  6. James F says:

    The most delusional man on the planet was whoever signed Mathews to this deal in the first place.

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  7. Jeff P. says:

    The Royals need a centerfielder.
    Dayton Moore is an idiot.

    Need I explain further?

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  8. alskor says:

    In all fairness, the last time he played regularly in Texas he was an above average defender in CF. His ZiPS projection for this season was .268/.340/.409. If he could put that slash line up with average defense in CF he would be an asset. He would be overpaid, yes, but there would be lots of worse CFers in the game starting regularly. I could see some team exchanging a bad contract for him and it turning out well.

    There’s obviously the big question of what kind of defender he would be now that he’s aged a couple years… but its not inconceivable that he could be average or even better.

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    • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

      I don’t doubt that he was an average defender in Texas, but since then he has been anything but, and not just in center field. Perhaps it’s a result of GMJ getting older. Perhaps it’s a result of him getting lazier since getting a contract of value. Perhaps it means squat.

      One thing is painfully obvious, his bat is not going to get back close to league average again. In three consecutive years, he’s posted wOBA of .324, .303, and .313. His power is disappearing (ISO of .167, .115, .111 and HR / FB of 11.8%, 9.1%, and 4.2%), his strikeouts are increasing (19.8%, 22.3%, 23.4%), and his walks are going up (9.6%, 9.6%, 11.2%). He’s showing all the signs of age related decline. If he’s losing his speed (SPD rating 5.7, 4.8, 4.6), then he wont be able to leg out singles and turn doubles into triples anymore. Offensively, things look really grim for GMJ going forward. His one season in Texas is starting to look VERY far removed from what he is now.

      I’m on board with Dave. GMJ is delusional. He may have one good year left in him, but I can’t really see him turning into anything of value for the remainder of his contract.

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      • alskor says:

        Well, the theory goes that a lot of his struggles and the negative markers associated with them are results of SSS and lack of regular playing time.

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  9. WY says:

    I missed the first version, but title is typical hyperbole, the kind of thing that makes it hard to even take the post seriously … even though everyone already knows that Matthews is overpaid and unlikely to get more playing time anywhere else. I don’t understand the vitriol.

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    • JD says:

      You don’t understand why lazy, bad, overpaid players who act like they’re some hybrid of Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth, and Superman aren’t much liked by people? Really? This is difficult to grasp?

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  10. Ray says:

    This article gave me deja vu, so I went and checked and articles on GMJ’s delusion were posted back at the beginning of the season.

    I suppose there’s something to be said for him not letting a lackluster season affect his confidence.

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  11. chuckb says:

    Aside from all the back-and-forth about whether or not Dave was too mean to poor old GMJ w/ his comments about being “delusional,” I was reminded of Mr. Operation Shutdown from a few years ago — Derek Bell. Laughable!

    Good luck finding that starting job, Gary. There are probably boatloads of teams willing to give you their starting CF job.

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    • Bill says:

      I see the comparision. Bell thought he was better than he was and Matthews thinks he’s better than he is. But, the comparision ends here. Matthews played to the best of his abilities whereas Bell went into a corner and sulked like a little girl. Once Matthews sees the market, I kind of think he’ll come to realize the truth and he will happily take a reserve role somewhere if he can get it. If he continues in his delusion after seeing the market, then it’s a problem because it will be harmful to him.
      That being said, everyone thought Pedro Martinez was delusional this offseason for asking for as much as he did. He eventually got a contract and he has more than earned it. Of course, Pedro was coming off of an injury. Matthews isn’t.

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  12. Logan says:

    Okay, mlbtraderumors.com is saved on my iGoogle page. So when I turned on the internet to see the headline “Gary Matthews Jr. Wants Out”, the first thing I typed into the server was “Gary Matthews Jr. Fangraphs”. It linked me to his stats page, where I saw he’s been a negative earner for the past two (almost three) years. Then, as I scrolled up to the top, I saw the headline “The Most Delusional Man on the Planet” dated October 27th and almost pissed my pants. Thank You Dave!

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  13. Rally says:

    He wants to play more and is honest about it when asked, but anyone who suggests he’s some kind of clubhouse problem does not follow the Angels very closely. Once the season starts, he doesn’t complain, does his job to the best of his limited ability, and is by all accounts a good teammate.

    But I sure hope the Angels let him play somewhere else next season. Preferably another AL West team, though he could probably put up good numbers in the Atlantic league.

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  14. Sam says:

    I think the Angels are bad at evaluating defensive abilities of outfielders. All three of the starters are pretty bad to average (Abreu, Rivera and Hunter), and they have Matthews signed to a ridiculous contract. On top of that, they had Darin Erstad play first base for a couple of years when he was one of the best CFs in the game, and also employed Garret Anderson for a long time.

    I don’t blame Matthews for wanting to play. He gets paid regardless. He just isn’t a MLB quality outfielder at this time.

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    • The Joe From 1993 says:

      Erstad played first base because of a very serious leg injury he suffered in 2003. He had to wear a heavy brace on his leg and was no longer physically able to play CF. That’s why he was the starting first baseman in 2004 and 2005.

      Garret Anderson was signed to a 4-year contract extension during the early part of the 2004 season. He was coming off a 2003 season where he was a 5.3 WAR player. In 2002 he posted a 3.8 WAR season. He had never had any injury problems. No sooner was the ink dry on the contract extension, Anderson developed a serious arthretic condition in his back and played in only 112 games in 2004 (he had played in at least 150 games for eight straight seasons prior to 2004). He was never the same.

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  15. Mike. Just Mike. says:

    “It’s still a boat anchor of a deal for a player who has basically no chance of ever starting for another major league team again.”

    You, Sir, are clearly unfamiliar with the San Francisco Giants. See: Sabean, Brian.

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  16. Brian Recca says:

    @Mike
    Lol I thought the same exact thing. This seems like an excellent opportunity for Brian Sabean to, once again, help age and degrade the team.

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  17. Ryan Strehlow says:

    Most Delusional Man on the Planet?

    You must have missed Bill Hall back in July when he claimed, “”I still consider myself the best third baseman in the league.”

    http://brewersbeat.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/07/hall_i_still_consider_myself_t.html

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  18. natepro says:

    I am both an Angels fan, and a frequent poster to a pretty large baseball message board, and I’ve been a member there for a couple years now. Through that time, perhaps more than anything else, there’s one thing I’ve become known for:

    I hate Gary Matthews Jr.

    Thanks for the article! I enjoyed it thoroughly.

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  19. Paul Thomas says:

    I think the process of reaching the majors actually selects for delusional people. Partly because the mental game of baseball is so difficult that it invites delusional thinking, and partly because many guys who aren’t delusional would never put in the amount of work it takes to get to the majors (because odds are it will never pay off and you’ll end up toiling for years for awful pay or no pay at all (in amateur ball), in total obscurity).

    Based on this, I would also predict that people who really LOVE playing baseball, and people who are so absurdly talented that they were obviously going to make the majors from the get-go, are probably less likely to be delusional, because they didn’t have to be to make it to the majors.

    P.S. I can’t agree with this post title without more evidence. Bobby Crosby has to at least be in the running.

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    • Bill says:

      I agree. It’s delusional for a poor Dominican kid to think he can make money playing baseball. There are so many better things he could be doing, but he wastes his time playing a stupid game with a fool’s hope of millions of dollars and worldwide fame. So, yeah I can see why Major League players may have a tendency to have an irrationally high opinion of their playing abilities. They’ve beaten the odds so far, who’s to say they can’t keep doing it?

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  20. Marcus says:

    When first reading the title, I thought this entry was going to be about Carson Cistulli’s delusions that he’s a baseball writer.

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  21. Kevin says:

    Wait Wait Wait. You guys know he was caught for HGH use right after signing with the Angels, right?

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  22. John says:

    The worst thing is that GMJ will absolutely get signed by another team (maybe even traded for by the Royals based on the past results of “the process”) since he’s a proven veteran. So maybe Dave is the most delusional man on the planet to think that all of the FO’s in MLB are smart enough to figure out that GMJ is not worth a roster spot, and if not smart enough to figure that, they’ll probably give him 300-400 abs anyway. I vote Dave for most delusional.

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    • Will says:

      You do realize he’s set to make $23mil over the next two years, right? You also realize he’s been sub-replacement level over the last two years, right?

      It isn’t that Matthews couldn’t be a useful player (though his numbers over the last few years suggest otherwise), it’s that his contract is such an albatross that he’ll never get the chance to prove/disprove his utility.

      Even idiot GMs like Moore couldn’t justify taking on $23mil of salary.

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  23. Mike Green says:

    Expecting to play every day? Wow. If he wants to play, he should be saying
    “I want to contribute whatever way I can”, and hope to land a job as a 4th or 5th outfielder.

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  24. wobatus says:

    It is completely human for someone to deny the ravages of time or eroding of skills. It happens to seniors who refuse to give up driving, often with disastrous results for them and others, but we do not ridicule them for the desire.

    With Mathews you are talking about his livelihood. He won’t be able to make this kind of money when he is done. Perhaps he is delusional. I doubt he knows his UZR rating or would agree with what it suggests about his fielding skills. He probably thinks he would hit better if he had regular at-bats.

    He probably is delusional. But it is a human delusion. He will find out what the market thinks soon enough.

    And Gary Mathews is a good baseball player. He just isn’t a good major league baseball player any more. He is no longer one of the 750 best/most economically reasonable players in the world.

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  25. Matt Duerksen says:

    GMJ needs to do what Kenji Johjama just did for Seattle and opt out of his contract. That would be a win – win situation.

    And yes GMJ is delusional if he thinks he’s a top flight CF. These guys are all better than him. Milkman Cabrera, Adam Jones, Vernon Wells, BJ Upton, Ellsbury and that’s just the AL East. GMJ probably wouldn’t rank in the top 20 CF’s in all of baseball but is being paid like a top 5.

    No other team will even start to consider paying him $10M a year so he’s stuck as an Angel so keep the trap shut and get ready to produce for the amount you’re paid and play for the Angels in 2010 OR OPT OUT OF YOUR CONTRACT NOW.

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    • H says:

      He can’t opt out because (a) the MLBPA would never let him and (b) his agent, knowing that he’d be lucky to get $3M on a one-year deal in free agency, would never let him. Johjima was different because the opt-out was written into his contract and he was using it to get out of MLB and return to Japan.

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  26. Tylerv says:

    Dave, I thought I remember you writing against hyperbole?

    *ROYALS*

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  27. aj says:

    That’s EASY.

    The Angels can say we’ll let you go start somewhere else, for ten million dollars. Alternatively, sign right here, and opt out of your contract.

    Now that Johjima set the precedent, why shouldn’t the Angels get something from GMJ for trading him/letting him walk.

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  28. Babyblues says:

    Well, speaking of the Royals and that no baseball player would just say that they sucked, you now stand corrected, Typical Idiot Fan.

    “I Suck”

    – Jose Guillen

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  29. hippoes says:

    Do we know if Dusty Baker subscribes to the LA Times?

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