Note: Last lingering thought in the NCAA tournament, promise.
Last week, Virginia Commonwealth mens basketball coach Shaka Smart signed an eight-year contract extension worth $1.Two million annually nearly quadrupling his previous base salary. With apologies to the teams impre sive 55-21 record in Smarts two years at VCU [url=]Barry Sanders Jersey[/url] , Shaka got his money for just one reason: the Rams incredible tourney run, from play-in afterthoughts who many said didnt deserve to make it, up to the Final Four.
Smart might end up being a top-notch coach who turns VCU into a perennial power. But emptying your wallet for just about any sports commodity based largely on a single flash of excellence can be risky. In baseball, weve seen many players ride a small sample of greatne s a stretch-run tear, monster playoff performance, even a single game or play to big paydays.
While Smarts contract is going to be evaluated during the period of the coming years, weve already seen the history of baseball contracts earned through signature moments. Its not pretty.
Aaron Rowand, Giants, Five years, $60 million: Google Rowands name, and youll find a litany of photos showing his face-first encounter the center field wall, his smashed-up face from the May 2006 incident, or both. Rowand was a good player before he got his cope with the Giants, and the career year in 2007 (.309/.374/.515, 5.6 WAR) certainly played a large role in securing that contract. Still, hed also struggled with injuries and a bad-to-terrible batting eye (nearly four strikeouts for every one walk) for much of his career, coupled with pa sed his 30th birthday when the Giants came calling. The legend of Rowand as face-smasher prepared to do whatever it took expedited Brian Sabeans $60 million gift. The disappointment (an average of under 1.5 WAR annually in the three seasons since) that ensued continues to be one of many black marks in a complex GM career that also includes plenty of high notes.
Gary Matthews Jr., Angels, 5 years, $50 million: Another center fielder, another contract-year spike (.367 wOBA in the year 2006 for Texas), another all-timer of the catch to close the deal. In this case, Matthews got credit for jaw-dropping athleticism (and defense), not nose-busting grit.
The catch, a July [url=]Thurston Armbrister Jersey[/url] 1, 2006, home-run theft that prompted congratulatory clapping from Houston victim Mike Lamb, saw Matthews, then playing for Texas, clamber in the wall in center.
Planting his right hand atop the wall for leverage, he launched himself to his left. The ball dropped into his outstretched glove because he whirled about in a 180-degree helicopter spin that sent him crashing to Earth with an enthused trot.
Rangers radio announcer Eric Nadel called the catch the best he'd ever seen in his 26 years with the organization.
FanGraphs Matt Klaa sen wrote a retrspective/rebuttal in 2009 which argued that the Matthews contract wasnt that bad. While Matt makes some cogent points, its difficult to get past Matthews age during the time of the offer (32), and the limited track record of succe s. Even his supposed ace within the hole, that tremendous defense, wasnt a lock. While one-year defensive metric samples should be taken with a touch of suspicion, Matthews -1.9 UZR the year he made The i sue turned out to be an accurate predictor of future disappointment.
David Bell, Phillies, 4 years, $17 million: On paper, this was a defensible contract. Bell almost certainly got an extra look from the Phillies because of his heroics in the 2002 playoffs using the Giants (.350/.458/.525 in the LCS and [url=]Steve Longa Jersey[/url] World Series). But he was also among the leagues top defenders, owned decent power (67 total homers in the 4 years prior to his new deal), and it was a 3-win-plus player in every of these two years prior to his four-year reward. The biggest condition in this example was certainly one of circumstance. Filling out the then-30-year-old Bell meant putting the career of megaprospect Chase Utley on hold, as incumbent third baseman Placido Polanco now use second. Granted, nobody might have predicted a .208 BABIP-induced disaster of the first Philly season for Bell (multiple injuries along with a .579 OPS). But the roster chain reaction proved to be lamentable: With Utley knocking on the door, the Phillies dealt Polanco for, as colleague Eric Seidman noted, a half-season of a guy who set his gardener on fire that off-season.
Darren Dreifort, Dodgers, Five years, $55 million: Hes made every worst free agent list of the past decade, with skeptics pointing to his 39-45 record and 4.28 ERA (in a pitchers park) as puzzling motivation for the 29-year-olds big contract. But Dreifort had a Shaka-like run of his own. Within the second half of his 2000 walk year, he went 8-2 having a 3.14 ERA and also the best strikeout rate of his career (8.4 K per 9 IP). Sure, he was mediocre the remainder of his career, i suing [url=]Cornelius Lucas Jersey[/url] walks aplenty and serving as a punching bag for lefty hitters. However the Dodgers thought their homegrown, #2 overall pick had turned a corner, and paid him accordingly. Injuries turned out to be Dreiforts downfall, as he (in)famously won only nine games the remainder of his career.
Adrian Beltre, Mariners, Five years, $65 million: Right now everybody knows about Beltres Gold Glove defense, along with the general need for examining park effects in evaluating a players performance. But Beltres five-year deal with Seattle is still perceived as a huge disappointment, and the cla sic illustration of overreacting to some career year in this [url=]A'Shawn Robinson Jersey[/url] instance Beltres 48-homer, .424 wOBA performance in 2004.
In fact, Beltres glove alone was worth about 5 wins throughout the lifetime of that contract. Moreover, he owed a lot of his perceived failures as a hitter to Safeco Fields vexing dimensions: Its been one of the toughest hitters parks in baseball, and also the single toughest park for a right-handed-hitting power hitter. WAR has Beltre producing 12 wins together with his bat, making them worth 16.9 total wins (or $68 million, given players market price in that time) over his five years with the Mariners. Most metrics dont account for factors such as a specific stadiums effect on a specific hitter, though its not hard to imagine Beltre doing much better offensively, and therefore being worth a fair little more, literally anywhere else. On the other hand, thats on Mariners management. Now equipped with years of data, the Mariners new guard must now recognize the task of getting full offensive value from right-handed sluggers.