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[November 22nd] -- Memo to Jim Bowden and Stan Kasten:

"As badly as I want my Washington Nationals to be a model franchise, as much as I want them to escape the NL East basement, don't - repeat don't - try to fix any major holes in the roster through free agency this year."

Alfonso Soriano got $136 million dollars. So-so middle relievers are getting $4 million a year.

Now this:

"ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Gary Matthews Jr. reached a preliminary agreement Friday on a $50 million, five-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels following a career year with the Texas Rangers. "

Five years, $50 million dollars? Ten million dollars a year? Matthews will be 33 in the first year of the contract, 38 when it expires. And trust me, Matthews' production will expire long before the contract will.

Last year, Matthews batted .313-19-79 for the Rangers, and played some pretty stellar center field. Now, if Matthews had produced those type of numbers over his career, then yeah, I guess today's market might justify $10 million per season.

But until last year, he had never come close.

Prior to 2006, his best season was 255-17-55. Prior to 2006, his career consisted of just 2100 at-bats and a .248 career batting average, with just 59 home runs -- one every 36 at-bats.

Can someone help me understand just what the guy did to warrant a $50 million dollar payday? If Bill Stoneman (and the Tribune Company) want to destroy their own teams, that's fine. But every one of these "I don't believe it" contracts changes the financial horizon for all of the other teams. If -- let's say -- that the Nationals were interested in signing outfielder Dave Roberts, a three year, $17 million dollar contract would have been fair for both sides. But now? Based on career stats, Roberts is a much better player than Matthews. If he's worth $10/$50, what's Roberts worth? More? How much more?

With the Soriano and Matthew's contracts now inflating the costs for the rest of the free agent market, the Nationals have no choice but to sit by the side of the playground and watch the other boys and girls swap marbles. Read the other transactions. Pitchers I've never heard of are earning $15 and $20 million dollar paydays because they are good enough to stay out of the minor leagues.

It's a certainty that the Nationals won't make any significant deals this year, but it's just as certain that -- in anticipation of the new stadium and new revenue streams -- they will attempt to improve the team through free agency prior to moving into the new stadium. Now, I'm not so sure. If things are crazy now, what might happen next year? Will it get worse?

Hoo-boy. Ten million a year....

All of this is pure greed and insanity. The end result, as it always is, will be higher ticket prices for the fans. The most ridiculous instance of all is the nutty Red Sox paying $51 million just for the rights to negotiate with a pitcher who has no major league experience. The teams who don't choose to play the game end up like the KC Royals.
Yep. With all that extra green -- so much so that the players and owners came to an agreement BEFORE the deadline, I thought, well, hoped -- that the extra bucks would help keep ticket prices down. Nope. More money for the owners means higher payroll costs which means higher ticket prices which means more money for the owners.

Got that?

Sheesh ....
Stupidity Reigns!! You really have to wonder, sometimes, exactly what some of these supposed "SMART" GM's are thinking? When a player like Matthews does not see the light until 33 years old--you have believe he will never sustain the career year. Its goes to show you that NO ONE wants to win it the old fashion way--building your own team. Instead buy somebody elses. Matthews will FLOP.

The African Queen and I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! I can't tell you how much I appreciate your efforts on The Beltway Boys and your decency toward THE NATS320 blog. You help make it fun.

I will be emailing you soon. Over the weekend.
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