Rest In Peace, Sam Huff…

Sam Huff died last weekend at the age of 87.  His family said death was from natural causes and there had been reports that Huff was suffering from dementia over the past several years.  Sam Huff was a Hall of Fame linebacker for the Giants and Redskins; he and Sonny Jurgensen did radio color commentary for Redskins’ games for decades; they were as important an institution in Washington as the Smithsonian.

Rest in peace, Sam Huff…

I did not think there would be much movement on the baseball free agent market until a new CBA got hammered out, but I was wrong about that.  As I was driving home yesterday, news broke that Noah Syndergaard signed a one-year deal with the LA Angels.  Reports say the deal is worth $21M.  Syndergaard had Tommy John surgery at the beginning of the 2020 season and then missed all of 2021 when “elbow inflammation” put him on the Injured List; so, this is a bit of a gamble by the Angels.  The Mets had offered Syndergaard an $18.5M qualifying offer prior to his decision to go to LA.

That signing got me to thinking generally about MLB free agency a bit more deeply than the two generic items I mentioned here on Monday.

  • With the signing of Syndergaard, the Angels will have $113M in salary commitments to 4 players on the team next year.  Anthony Rendon will make $36M; Mike Trout will make $35M Justin Upton will make $21M and Syndergaard will make $21M.
  • I knew that Clayton Kershaw and Corey Seager were free agents this year, but I had not realized that two other Dodgers of note were also on the free agent list.  Kenley Jansen and Chris Taylor are also free agents this year and both should attract attention.  Jansen made $20M in 2021 and Taylor made $7.8M in 2021.  The Dodgers – like the Angels – have lots of big contracts on their hands even without considering what these four free agents will be asking for.
  • There is one constant in MLB free agent seasons; the Rays will not be in the bidding for any of the “Top 50” free agents on the market.  In fact, free agent speculation related to the Rays usually centers on who they will trade away next year to avoid confronting free agency negotiations come next winter.
  • The Mariners were a positive surprise last season staying in the wildcard race until the final week of the season.  The team is young; their Opening Day salary commitments for last year were only $73.4M.  Might the Mariners be active in the free agent market this year?

The news of Syndergaard leaving the Mets reminded me of the highly publicized news conference from a year ago when Steve Cohen bought the Mets and took the reins.  He and Sandy Alderson announced that Alderson would lead a search to find a new President of Baseball Operations who would then hire a new GM and etc.  Cohen said that he wanted to create an efficient and effective management structure to optimize the on-field product.

As of this morning, Alderson is still in his job as Team President and if reports out of NYC are accurate, more than a handful of candidates for the job have either turned down or chose not to take the interviews for the position of President of Baseball Operations.  In fact, Alderson just hired a new GM for the team – Billy Eppler formerly with the Angels – meaning that the orderly hiring timeline presented in that news conference a year ago has been thwarted.

According to reports, Sandy Alderson’s son is an assistant GM for the Mets.  If I were under consideration for the job of President of Baseball Operations – and I am most certainly not – that would be a major issue for me.  My boss’ son would be a couple of layers below me on the organization chart; that would be a less-than-comfortable work situation in my mind.

In the world of college football there is an oddity this week.  The CFP rankings have Michigan one step higher in the ratings than Michigan State.  The oddity in that ranking is that Michigan State beat Michigan straight up just two weekends ago.  The whole concept behind the CFP – – other than as a vehicle to capture TV money for the schools of course – – is to decide a national champion on the field.  Well, there you have an on the field result that is recent and relevant; so, naturally the CFP ranking folks ignore it.

Finally, let me close today with a statement from W. C. Fields and state categorically that I too behave as he does:

“I exercise self-control and never touch any beverage stronger than gin before breakfast.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………