No Cat - no problem
Frank Catalanotto had a nice four year run with the Blue Jays that ended this past Tuesday, as he signed a 3-year/$13 million pact with the Texas Rangers.
Catalanotto is a nifty little hitter (career .297/ .362/ .454), and last season's spike in walks was encouraging. But keep in mind:
- he's entering his age-33 season
- he doesn't hit lefties
- he doesn't play stellar defense
- his power is well below average for a left fielder
Add it all up, and the Jays will happily take the draft-pick compensation for the Cat, a type A free agent, rather than have him turn into another Shannon Stewart - a player similar in age and limitations that the Minnesota Twins paid $18 million for 3 underwhelming and injury-riddled seasons.
Of course, $4.3 million or so annually for Catalanotto isn't insane money. Now, $50 million/5 years for Gary Matthews Jr. and $45 million/5 years for Juan Pierre - that's
Gary Matthews is a terrific defensive outfielder.
He's also a career .263/.336/.419 hitter.
Who's had one good season (last year).
In a terrific hitter's park.
Where he'll no longer be playing.
You would think that by now teams would realize the pitfalls of signing a 31-year-old coming off a fluke career-year to a rich, long-term deal.
I suppose when you've had Darin Erstad and the ghost of Steve Finley in CF, you get a little desperate. The Angels are going to regret this is in a big way within two seasons.
Juan Pierre needs to hit .325 to be a good player and .300 to be passable. His career best slugging is 407, and that was accomplished in Colorado
Finally, there's Alfonso Soriano, who'll be averaging $17 million a year through his 38th birthday thanks to the Chicago Cubs. IF
Soriano's improved 2006 walk rate is for real, and IF he moves to centre field and IF he's effective there, then he might be worth that kind of money for at least a few seasons. As you can tell by the font size, that's a lot of big IFs. In short, they're (over)paying him like Carlos Beltran and, 40-40 or no, he's no Carlos Beltran.
What does all this mean for the Jays? The Frank Thomas signing is looking better and better by the day, and the chances of Vernon Wells remaining in Toronto beyond 2007 are starting to look awfully slim.