We all hear how a dollar doesn't buy what it used to. With the ridiculous amounts of money that major league teams are throwing at mediocre pitchers, unproven hitters or hitters surely to be on the decline, it got me to thinking about the next undervalued market the Oakland Athletics could/should start exploiting: today's dollar.
In the early 1990's the Oakland Athletics had two of the highest paid players in the league on their team in Jose Canseco and Rickey Henderson. Both, combined, made under $10M a season and that wasn't all that long ago. When A-Rod signed his unbelievable contact with Texas a few years back, it was for more money than Rodger Clemens and Pedro Martinez have made in their careers combined. When Barry Zito signs his (reportedly) $90-100M contract this off season, he will make more money next season than Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder combined (and he was the Three of the Big Three).
All of which is to say, in five to ten years when the TBD Athletics of Suburbia Fremont California move into their new digs, the average payroll will more than likely be around, if not at, the $100M mark.
Tim Hudson, who everyone said we couldn't afford, signed a contract worth (at its max $58M/5Y or $11.6M a year). Vincent Padilla just signed for $11M a year!
Miguel Tejada, who everyone said we couldn't afford, signed a contact worth (at its max $72M/6Y or $12M a year). Carlos Lee just signed for $16.7M a year!
When Jermaine Dye left, he signed a two year deal with Chicago for $10.15M. Gary Matthews Jr just signed for $10M a year!
Last year when looking for a DH, we offered Thomas a contact that didn't end up paying him $4M. This year, we're offering Piazza $15M/2Y.
Maybe we couldn't have afforded these guys when we had the chance, but looking back on it now, I certainly would have rather paid for them then than what it's going to cost to have their knock offs a few years down the line.
If Billy Beane can compete year to year with a modest budget in today's terms, imagine what he could do today with what will be a modest budget in 2010 terms. And that, my friends, is my argument for spending today!
Of course, for who's available, I think it might just be in our best interests to trade for someone with what was once considered a big contact (ie. Tejada/Hudson) Then again I'm also all for trading Blanton for Lastings if we can sign a Lilly or something. And why wouldn't we want a Crawl Crawford or Delmon Young (imagine him and Bradley together)?
Then again, maybe we could wait and sign Wells next season along with locking up Bradley (I can only imagine what he'll command in a few years) and Johnson (who I still believe will be a quality hitter once he learns how to hit a change up)
In closing, we are a small market team and may always be one, but the market is growing (average salaries rose 8.9% last season) and we need to exploit this now. Today's big market payroll will be tomorrow's small market.
NOTE: Consider this about the Tim Hudson trade that I hate and so many of Beane supporters don't think was so bad:
HUDSON career: 3.53 ERA / 1650 IP / 119 W / 60 L (.665 winning percentage) $58M/5 and this includes the two sub-par, yet winning seasons he's had for the Braves.
ZITO career: 3.55 / 1430 / 102 /63 (.618) $90-100M/6