Every winter one MLB team owner is dubbed the “One Dumb Owner” for giving out a ridiculous, mega-bucks contract (think Ted Lerner last year for the Jayson Werth debacle). This year that title has been anointed to the Angels Arte Moreno for his 10-year, $254 million commitment to Albert Pujols. But I think the crown should be taken away from Moreno and given to Nolan Ryan and his partners in Texas, who on Wednesday signed Japanese import Yu Darvish to a six-year, $60 million deal.
There are those who will hail this as a brilliant move considering Darvish’s absolutely sick numbers in Japan. And perhaps Darvish will be an American baseball superstar a la Ichiro Suzuki. But adding in the $51.7 million posting fee to Darvish’s former team, Ryan is paying $111.7 million dollars to a man who has never thrown a pitch in the major leagues.
In contrast, Moreno is paying more than twice that to the best player in all of baseball, who has proven at this level, year in and year out, what he is capable of doing. Yes, Pujols might be older than the 31 he claims to be, and yes, in the final years of the contract the Angels will be paying far too much for a player with diminished abilities, but if he delivers a couple of World Series championships before that, who will care?
I would much rather overpay for proven performance than to pay less for potential. Because let’s face it, Darvish is all potential right now; he has proven nothing in the majors. And with the track record of Japanese players coming over here not particularly stellar, this is a huge risk for the Rangers.
Moreno’s signing of Pujols carries much less risk, so it says here there he should he remove his “One Dumb Owner” tiara and hand it to Ryan. I think it would look nice on him.