Maybe you saw it. The cartoon where the kid was practicing the piano with his mother standing behind him holding the sports page with the headline: 'Centerfielder Signs $90 Million Contract.' And she says, "Never mind with the piano, go on out with the boys and play center."
As deals go, the centerfielder Torii Hunter got the better of the three. At 32, he signed with Los Angeles of the AL for five years, $90 million. That rolls out at $18 million a year and by the time he's 35, the Angels might be mailing the checks to his Palm Springs retirement village.
Andruw Jones on the other hand had to settle for two years at $36.2 million. He could have run a few more ground balls out and maybe beat the throws and got five. But the Dodgers figured the 30 year old centerfielder still has a couple left, just not five.
Then comes Aaron Rowand. The Phillies wanted to keep this poster boy for toughness in centerfield, but were not willing to go the distance. At age 30, he plays risky defense--not risky for the team but for himself--and hit .300 just twice in his career. He was looking for job security and who could blame him. I am too.
The Giants rolled the dice and gave him a five year contract for $60 million, which pans out to a measly $12 million a year. Security? Who wouldn't want those numbers. For the average Joe, that's hitting the lottery. Not saying he's average, but check back with me in three or four years.
And the St. Louis Cardinals traded 37 year old centerfielder Jim Edmonds to the Padres. Edmonds is entering the second year of a two year, $19 million contract. He is not coming off a good year.
Which brings us around to the Phillies. I don't blame the ball club for not landing Rowand. He plays a good centerfield and is a decent, solid bat down in the lineup. But five years can be a long time. Hell, in five years, Gillick may be fishing in the Puget Sound and trying to decide whether to use squid or a teaser jig.
Now though, he's trying to improve a ball club that took the NL East like it was an announced asile-sale at Walmart. And lots of folks are saying they didn't win it, the Mets lost it. Tommy Glavine took the ball in the final game of the season and pitched like it was an old timers game...and he was the special guest. Meanwhile 44,000 towel waving fanatics at Citizens Bank Park were scoreboard watching and going gitty after a 14 year lull of 'we'll get 'em next year.' Hey, thank God for Kyle Kendricks.
Well, next year is here. We Phillies fans are racing down the steps to look under the Christmas tree to see who Gillick got. Well, so far, Gilick ain't got much. 'Cept for a an aging arm-hanging veteran bullpen ace who's better days are several years before Ed Wade got done sky diving and got a new job. Even Wade knew Gillick would bite on this one: A race horse outfielder named Michael Bourn who may very well become a hit machine who steals 30-plus bases a year and covers center and the four oceans.
Listen, Gillick got Lidge on a one year deal and that we can all thank Santa for.
Since the Padres now have Edmonds in center, suddenly juicer and free agent Mike Cameron is attractive and Gillick is interested. On day it's Shane Victorino and the next day maybe it's Cameron, who would be unavaliable for the first 25 games of the season because he tested positive for a banned substance for the second time.
Meanwhile, you kids keep practicing in center because one of these days the Phillies will wake up and add some talent to that young core that's not getting any younger. So maybe we don't have to wait another 14 years.
Next: Things in common: Steroid use and smoking in the boys room.