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Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Garret Anderson agrees to $48 million, four-year extension 

That's good news for Rangers fans.

Garret Anderson is not a $12 million per year player. Left fielders with a career 807 OPS and a career .273 EQA simply aren't that valuable, even if they are good enough defensively to handle centerfield, as Anderson will be this season. Yet he's gotten a reputation for being an underrated star because of his gaudy RBI totals, while his apologists dismiss his sub-par OBPs, claiming that it is his job to drive in runs, not get on base.

From his debut until 2001, Anderson was a below-average player. He cranked it up the past two seasons, to the point where he's an above-average outfielder,

This deal covers Anderson's age 33 through 36 seasons, a time frame when most players decline. Anderson reminds me most of former Ranger Al Oliver, another guy without a ton of power, who didn't walk much, but who hit the ball hard every time up. Oliver actually aged fairly well, and Anderson may, as well...but the Angels have just bet heavily that Anderson will retain most, or all, of the value from his peak seasons during a time span when most players start going down hill. The Yankees and the Phillies, with Jason Giambi and Jim Thome, learned the hard way the risks that you run when you pay a player based on a peak performance at age 30.

The Angels overpaying for an aging, overrated player is definitely good news for the Rangers, for a couple of reason. First, obviously, overspending on Anderson means less money to spend on other, better players. With new, deep-pocketed owner Arte Moreno in place, this may not seem like such a big issue, but unless Moreno is going to go Steinbrenner, the Angels are going to have a finite payroll, meaning that this poor decision will limit the Angels' ability to spend elsewhere.

Secondly, though, this is an indication that the Angel front office still doesn't get it. They are paying a guy who has been a mediocrity for much of his career like a superstar, and to compound the problem, they are locking him up during the time frame when he can be expected to decline. The Angels are ignoring basic baseball history by assuming that Garret Anderson will continue to play as well in his mid-30s as he did in his late-20s, and they pulled the trigger on the deal a full season before he was even eligible for free agency.

Such decisions, particularly when combined with the decisions to overpay Jose Guillen and Kelvim Escobar, should cause Rangers fans to breathe a little easier. As Tom Hicks has proven, spending a bunch of money on payroll is pointless if you don't spend the money wisely...

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