Larry “Chipper” Jones has been my favorite non-Phillie since he burst onto the scene with the Atlanta Braves in 1995. So it is with great remorse that I bring you news that Jones might, in fact, be a few watts short of a light bulb. Over at The Sporting News, Ken Bradley got Jones’ take on the goings-on in baseball, and a lot of Jones’ thoughts evoke this response:
You may recall Braves’ players and even their manager in need of the whaambulance back in August and September of ’07. This is becoming a trend.
Without further ado, let’s read and respond to Larry.
Chipper on the Mets acquiring relievers Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz
The rich get richer. It’s becoming more and more apparent that the bigger markets are crushing the smaller markets with these signings.
Larry, you’ve averaged just about $13 million per season over the past eight seasons. You complaining about the rich is like Paris Hilton complaining about people with chlamydia (PH jokes are just too easy).
Only the signing of Rodriguez represented a market inequality, since Putz was acquired in a trade — almost any team could have jumped out and paid for his services with players. Further, Rodriguez can be considered to have been slightly underpaid at $37 million over the next three seasons. For instance, the Yankees signed Mariano Rivera to a three-year $45 million contract in December of ’07. Joe Nathan and Brad Lidge have similar contracts to Rodriguez.
It’s not like the Mets just reached into their pockets, pulled out as much money as they could grab on to, and said to Rodriguez, “Here, just take this, we don’t need to bother counting.” The Mets offered a market-savvy contract to Rodriguez and he bit. There’s nothing unfair about that.
We won for 14 consecutive years, and you never, ever saw any bulletin board material. And now that these two teams are on top of the division, they can’t keep their mouths shut. Just go play baseball. It’s Cole Hamels now. It was Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Beltran the past couple of springs. These two teams are constantly going at each other verbally. You know, win with class, lose with class. Just keep your mouth shut and go play your game.
David Pinto had a great response to this nugget:
For 14 years, Atlanta was the most boring champion around. When I was at the World Series in 1999, the Yankees fans at Turner Field, greatly outnumbered, still managed to be louder than the Braves fans. Let the Mets and Phillies talk trash, and let them go down to the wire every year. Fans love this.
I’d hate to see the MLB turn into the No Fun League, or the NFL, especially if it’s driven by the players.
Chipper on the Braves pulling out of the Jake Peavy trade talks
[The Atlanta Braves are] not going to give any player who comes through here a no-trade clause. I don’t care if it’s Hank Aaron. I don’t care if it’s Mickey Mantle.
Then Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle will head to New York where they’re at least going to get paid better without a no-trade clause. The NTC actually helps teams, believe it or not, by finding another method through which to attract players. If you’re not going to offer a lot of money, and you’re not making the playoffs, AND you’re not going to provide other incentives, then why would anyone play for your team?
Chipper on the Yankees’ offseason spending
The downside to trading is that it weakens your minor league system. But the only way that we are going to win now is through trades. We just don’t have enough money to compete with the New York, Los Angeles and Chicago teams.
While the poorer teams are supposed to have an advantage when it comes to prospects — with the draft order based on how bad a team’s record is — if it exists, it is small. But regardless, almost any team — including the Braves — can trade for a star player. It just requires loosening the grip on your prized prospects. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. That’s why the Brewers parted with Matt LaPorta for C.C. Sabathia last year.
Bad example (if you take that analogy literally).
To look at it from another perpsective, take a glance at the Braves’ total payroll by year, with their MLB rank…
2008: $102,365,683; 10th
2007: $87,290,833; 15th
2006: $90,156,876; 9th
2005: $86,457,302; 10th
2004: $90,182,500; 8th
2003: $106,243,667; 3rd
2002: $93,470,367; 7th
2001: $91,936,166; 6th
Only once since 2001 were the Braves not in the top-third of the league in total payroll. Seems to me like the Braves had more than enough enough money to compete for free agents.
Peer at Jones’ salary in each of those years, and how much of the Braves’ payroll it takes up:
2008: $12,333,333, 10%
2007: $12,333,333, 13%
2006: $12,333,333, 15%
2005: $16,061,802, 18%
2004: $15,333,333, 18%
2003: $13,333,333, 12%
2002: $11,333,333, 12%
2001: $10,333,333, 13%
Gee, Larry… if you wanted the Braves to have more money to compete for better players, why didn’t you ever volunteer to take a pay cut? Did it ever cross your mind when you’re whining about your team’s lack of finances, “Oh yeah, I am responsible for one-fifth of it all. Oops!”
You have fun counting your money when your team is mathematically eliminated from playoff contention in mid-August, while the Phillies and Mets will continue to play meaningful games into late September.