More crazy signings the last few days:
B.J. Ryan, Blue Jays, 5 years / 47 million
Billy Wagner, Mets, 4 years / 43 million
Look, I don't care how good your closer is, he's only going to pitch 70-90 innings a year. And a combined 90 million is a goddamn lot to spend on that. Wagner's elbow could explode. Ryan could fall back to earth. I just don't know. I hope we don't give Brad Lidge anything close to these deals eventually. I'd rather trade him.
Esteban Loaiza, A's, 3 years / 21 million
An interesting move for the A's - I've read that they would now like to move Barry Zito and get some kick-ass prospects in return. If so, wouldn't it be fitting if next year was the year they finally won a playoff series - without the Original Big 3 (Hudson, Zito, Mulder)? I'm a big fan of Billy Beane's (surprise, surprise, a stats grad student likes the Moneyball GM), particularly his willingness to trade anybody to keep his team competitive every year with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. To be fair, this signing does cost the A's their 1st round draft pick, but with closers getting 40 million, signing Loaizia to 7m / year seems ok to me. His road stats away from RFK were iffy last year, but the A's play in a pretty good pitcher's park also (huge foul territory, good defensive CF in Kotsay, lotsa room in the OF), so he should be ok.
Kenji Johjima, Mariners, 3 years / 16.5 million
This is an old one that I missed. Big thumbs up to the Mariners. I think Johjima has by far the best upside of the FA catchers, including Ramon Hernandez and Bengie Molina. He is 30 years old, but he should be solid. His numbers in Japan have been ridiculous, but Baseball Prospectus did a little research and his translated stats still look excellent (around .280 / .360 / .450 or so, with good defense).
The Astros haven't done much at all; I'm starting to get nervous that Clemens + Ausmus will do to us this year what Beltran did to us last year. Andy and I talked about the Astros a lot on our 16 hour drive back to Texas so he could start his new job (today was his first day), and my main point was this:
Tim Purpura needs to make a move that shows me something. It doesn't have to be a huge move. I like the fact that he has confidence in our prospects (Taveras, Lane, Astacio, Scott, Burke, etc.), but so far his only notable new Astro signings have been John Franco and Turk Wendell. You don't need to sign Garciaparra to a huge deal, Tim, but some small moves (signing Chris Hammond to a short deal, trading for Estrada, signing Jacque Jones) would go a long way to me thinking of you as a top GM.