I can't get too upset at Jeremy "Lights Out" Affeldt--he' s pitched beautifully all season. In 52-1/3 IP he's faced 212 batters and given up 40 hits, only 2 HRs, 11 ER, and whiffed 44 guys against 27 walks. His FIP and tRA are both career lows, 3.55 and 4.15, and he's added about 0.7 WAR. At $3M (plus $1M signing bonus) he's our highest paid reliever, and he's given us quality in return. Bobby Howry is getting $2.75 M on a one-year deal, and he'll have to fight for a job next year. Affeldt gets $4M for a second year, let's hope he can give us the same or better in 2010. Matt Cain, for example, is making $2.65M this season and $4.25M in 2010. Who do you think adds more value to the team?
In fact, the economic illogic of this team is staggering. We got another good performance from Eugenio Velez--somewhere the "take a pitch" light went on in his head. He worked Kevin Correia last night! He makes $0.4 M, and put on a display of mature batting that our $8M CF would do well to emulate. Randy Winn makes $8.25 M and can't produce anywhere near what Fred "I'm in the doghouse now" Lewis does at $0.4 M. Juan Uribe costs $1M, Freddy Sanchez $6.1 M. The old, overpaid guys can't deliver any better than the youngsters and the scrap heap guys. Bengie Molina? $6M. Pablo Sandoval? $0.4 M. Would you be surprised to know that Tim Lincecum is making $650,000 this year? He could make a case for being the MOST VALUABLE PLAYER IN THE LEAGUE even if he was paid 20 times that!
I know we aren't supposed to care about what they make. And I don't care, in the sense that ballplayers get a nice chunk of money to entertain us with their unique skills, and I'm fine with that. I care about the team, though, and the future. Time and again we overpay for aging, league-average guys and expect them to deliver us a championship. If we make the playoffs, it will be on the backs of Tim and Matt and Brian Wilson and Pablo Sandoval and maybe even Madison Bumagarner (who showed some poise last night--I hope the rush job doesn't hurt him). I'm really tired of old, overpaid, league-average mediocrities. I'd sure like to give a big, fat contract to someone who DESERVES it, who can actually deliver SUPERIOR PERFORMANCE. Barry Zito has pitched decently this year, but so has Kevin Correia. In fact, they are almost interchangeable. That tells me the brains behind this outfit don't have a clue how to put together a team. We are winning because we have some great young talent--what if they regress next year, even a little? Who will pick up the slack? Freddy Sanchez? Please.
We are 3 games back with 23 to play. At 3.98 runs scored per game (554/139), it is going to be a tough fight. Any slip-up in our pitching and our offense will be hard-pressed to overcome the deficit. It has been a great season. Let's hope we build on our youthful future for next year and beyond no matter how it turns out.