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Monday, February 06, 2006

Are you Insured?

Perhaps I'm missing something related to Jeff Bagwell's situation.

I like to listen to MLB Radio on my MP3 player and have begun listening more and more to Stay'in Hot which features former Giants outfielder Daryl Hamilton and Seth Everett. I've listened to them interview Bagwell regarding his situation and recently they seemed perplex as to why the Astros would have set that January 31st deadline before filing the insurance claim. (Of course Hamilton also mentioned the other day that "evangelical Christians" control the media...hmmmm)

I would think it would be obvious that the Astros wanted to know whether they are going to have that $15.5 million they can use to improve their club as early as possible. If they wait to see if Bagwell can actually play then it will be too late to really utilize that money for Roger Clemens or to pick up the salary of another pitcher or hitter in a trade situation. This is especially the case since nothing has really changed in Bagwell's medical situation. His shoulder is still damaged and it's not getting any better and so the probability of his being able to come back are not good.

But despite all of that Bagwell's projected performance is nowhere close to providing $15 million worth of value to the Astros. The last two seasons his OPS+ has been a bit above league average but was higher in 2004 (117) than in 2005 (96). From a business perspective, although perhaps not from a PR perspective, the Astros would be silly not to try and recoup that money.

I also find it a little ironic that those like Hamilton talk about how Bagwell "deserves" the chance because of all that he's done for the Astros. What about the fans of the Astros and Bagwell's teammates? Don't they deserve the chance to improve and win more games rather than have a $15 million pinch hitter on their bench? That team desparately needs offense and if they could use that money to bring in another hitter they would be well served.

Some might argue that Bagwell signed the back-loaded contract as a favor to the Astros. That may be the case but he's been handsomely paid since 2002 to the tune of $58 million over that time so it's not as if he pulled an Andre Dawson who signed for $700,000 with the Cubs in 1987 in order to get off the artificial turf and out of Canada.

1 comment:

Blonde Leading the Blonde said...

Dan, thanks for a clear-eyed take on things.

i have a question----okay, maybe more than one. Should Bagwell's contract be voided and insurance collected, can Bagwell still play in 2006 for the Astros, under a subsequent contract? On the face of it, my question appears to have an obvious answer (contract language strictly forbidding this type of arrangement, whch could constitute a charge of fraud). In admittedly other and somewhat dissimiliar cases involving club options, contracts have ended, and subsequent contracts signed, usually at reduced rates. I understand you don't have Bagwell's contract framed on your wall, nor am I asking you to do research that I clearly haven't done. Simply from what you know, my question goes to this possibility: is there a pro-rate loophole in the contract? Say, any language that could present a compromise? That the Players Association couldn't legitimately contest, should Bagwell & the Astros & the insurance carrier wrestle out an agreement? Again, I understand that an insurance carrier might not find this in their best interest, particularly as precedent (if indeed there is no prior precedent). That said, it's true that insurance carriers have to compete, same as ballclubs and ballplayers.