A lot has happened since the beginning of the regular season, so let's hop to it.
- The Red Sox signed David Ortiz to a 4-year, $52 million contract extension for 2007-2010, while the Cubs signed Derrek Lee to a 5-year, $65 million contract for 2006-2010. David Ortiz's $7.75 million club option for 2007, as well as Derrek Lee's $9.42 million salary for 2006, were voided in the process.
It seems as though a double standard exists in favour of the players. If a player exceeds expectations and is viewed as a relative bargain, his contract is often restructured in his favour. On the other hand, if a player's production regresses to the extent that he is vastly overpaid, the team is never compensated. A poster at Baseball Think Factory, bibigon, explains it well, so I'll simply quote him:
There's an interesting bit of inequity between teams and players with regards to deals like this.
When a team signs a player, say Mike Lowell, to a long term deal, and the player ends up being a bust, nobody gives a 2nd thought to idea of the player renegotiating for a discount. When a team signs a player like Ortiz however, and the deal works out great, so that the deal is well below market value, there's a good deal of pressure on the team to tear up the contract and make things "right".
It basically makes a case for not signing guys to deals like this. If they work out, then you're under pressure to reward the guys for past service, if they don't, and Ortiz had simply reverted to his Minnesota days, then the team just pays up. The gaurenteed (sic) nature of the contract is only respected when it benefits the player.
In other words, if a deal turns out to be such a bargain that it leads to a restructured contract with additional years, it may actually be more detrimental to management than other seemingly less-beneficial scenarios.
However, in this case, it doesn't seem unreasonable to expect that neither of these players' production will diminish a great deal by the end of the contract. Once opening day 2010 begins, both Ortiz and Lee will be 34 years old, which isn't very old by contemporary baseball standards. However, considering the amount of money involved, even a slight decrease in production may not make the deal worthwhile. Keep in mind that Ortiz offers absolutely no defensive value, while Lee plays at the deepest, strongest offensive position in the game.
- Plenty of suprises have taken place thus far. Although, it's important to not put too much stock into what's transpired up 'til now. Chris Shelton won't hit .600 for the whole season, nor will he keep up his torrid home run pace. Moreover, the Tigers and Reds won't continue to play at a .700 clip for much longer.
As I type this, approximately 4% of the regular season has been completed. That is simply far too small a sample size to draw any definitive conclusions from. To be honest, I probably won't give the standings or league leaders much consideration until at least the beginning of May.
- Apparently -- and this shouldn't come as much of a surprise to most of you -- baseball players are prone to injuries. Day after day, another big name goes down with some injury or another. Without looking too hard, these are some regulars (well, theoretically) who have missed time due to an injury that occurred since opening day (they must have appeared in at least one game in 2006):
Player Team Injury
Coco Crisp Red Sox Fractured finger
Mark Hendrickson Devil Rays Shoulder stiffness
Julio Lugo Devil Rays Abdominal strain
Roy Halladay Blue Jays Strained forearm
C.C. Sabathia Indians Strained abdominal muscle
Ron Belliard Indians Strained calf
Bobby Crosby Athletics Laceration on his finger
Horacio Ramirez Braves Hamstring injury
Chipper Jones Braves Sprained right knee and ankle
Nomar Garciaparra Dodgers Strained ribcage muscle
Noah Lowry Giants Right oblique strain
Those injuries occurred over the course of one week, and that doesn't take into account all the players who became injured prior to playing a game (as well as those whom I probably overlooked). The season is twenty-six weeks long, and although subsequent weeks probably won't include as many injuries, it's apparent that they certainly are a part of the game.