Comment and observation: Hoops, Savoir-faire and spending

Been a while since I did one of of these ... by the way, your photo of the day (look up!) is Aaron Williams of the Los Angeles Clippers blocking a shot by Hakim Warrick of the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. Cuttino Mobley scored 24 points as the Clippers snapped a season-high five-game losing streak with a 105-90 win.

OK, enough of that ....

A PROMISING START: I'm not sure what Denis Savard told the Chicago Blackhawks in the third period Wednesday night, but it sure seemed to work.

Savard won his head coaching debut as Chicago rallied for a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars at the United Center. It also marked the first time in 16 games that that the Blackhawks beat the Stars dating back to 2002.

Finland's Tony Salmelainen scored his NHL career goal, and countryman Tuomo Ruutu scored on a breakaway with less than two minutes to play.

"It's not about me," said Savard, a Hall of Famer whose No. 18 hangs from the rafters. "The guys played their guts out. You've got to give them credit. It's not just the fact we won. We like the win for sure, but we stuck with them the whole game."

Baby steps, sure, but impressive nontheless.

OUT OF CONTROL: After some of the contracts that have been handed out so far this offseason, I don't ever want to hear a baseball team -- ANY OF THEM -- cry poverty ever again.

I can understand, to a point, the Chicago Cubs giving Alfonso Soriano $136 million for eight years. That was combat pay for the fans who sat through one of the club's worst seasons in recent memory.

But I say to a point. In his only season with the Washington Nationals, he had a season for the ages: 41 doubles, 46 homers, 41 steals. It's almost enough to make you overlook the career-high 160 strikeouts.

But the Houston Astros giving $100 million for six years to Carlos Lee ... yeah, that's a head-scratcher. They have to banking that "El Caballo" will return to the form he had the first half of the season when he was with the Milwaukee Brewers.

In 102 games with the Brewers, Lee had 28 homers and 81 RBIs. He was dealt to the Texas Rangers at the July 31 trading deadline ... and promptly forgot how to hit for a team that plays in a ballpark that can best be called hitter-friendly.

Hell, it's Coors Field South. Lee, by the way, hit nine homers and 35 RBI in 59 games during his short stint with Texas.

He's a nice player, but the type of player that's going to hit 40-45 homers and knock in 120-125 runs? No. And if he keeps growing the way he's been during the off-season, he's going to eat himself out of that deal.

Want some more out-of-control spending?

  • Philadelphia Phillies give Adam Eaton a three-year, $24 million deal -- He was 7-4 with a 5.12 ERA last season after missing the first 3 1/2 months following right ring finger surgery.
  • Toronto Blue Jays give Frank Thomas a two-year, $18 million deal -- He's a future Hall of Fame, no question, and he hit 39 homers in his only season with the Oakland Athletics in 2006, but he's also 38 years old, and I have a hard time thinking he's going to come close to duplicating those numbers. He'll be facing Boston and the New York Yankees nearly 40 times a year. Far cry from pitching staffs in Texas and Seattle.
  • Los Angeles Dodgers give Randy Wolf a one-year, $8 million deal -- Had left elbow surgery in 2005 and has made just 25 starts the last two seasons. Yeah. OK.
  • Dodgers also give Juan Pierre a five-year, $45 million deal -- Cubs fans aren't sorry to see him go. Pierre was expected to be a sparkplug at the top of the order, but a .330 on-base percentage doesn't cut it.
I also have to shake my head about what the Red Sox and Yankees are doing. Boston spends more than $51 million for the rights to negotiate with Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Better hope that "gyroball" is worth all that and a bag of chips.

The Yanks, not to be outdone, have given Mike Mussina a two-year deal worth $23 million and will spend $26 million to have a sit down with lefty Kei Igawa -- who they're projecting for the back end of their rotation.

Oh, and Boston is considering J.D. Drew -- who walked away from the final $33 million of his deal with the Dodgers -- and may get $70 million for five years. And pitchers Jason Schmidt and Barry Zito are still available.

And then there this headache, too.

Suh-wheat Jesus.

No comments: