You know what we really, really liked at the time? When the Dodgers signed Clayton Kershaw to a $215 million extension, even if he isn’t starting on Sunday. You know why? Not just because he’s the best pitcher in baseball — he is — but because due to his youth, he’s only signed through age 32. (Assuming he doesn’t opt out first.) You’re paying him a lot, but you’re paying him through what can reasonably be expected to be his best years. It’s not like signing Robinson Cano through age 40, or Albert Pujols through age 76.
I’m reminded of this thanks to today’s news that the Tigers have given Miguel Cabrera — arguably the best hitter in baseball — an additional eight years and $248 million on top of the two years he has left. Total, they’re tied to him for the next 10 years, for $292 million. Cabrera is great, possibly on his way to being one of the 10 best hitters of all time, but he turns 31 in April. He’s limited defensively at best; his body type isn’t exactly the sort that traditionally ages gracefully; his off-the-field record isn’t impeccable. He’s two years away from free agency.
The average value isn’t what bothers me — it surpasses Kershaw, which, fine — but the seemingly needless extension though his age-40 season just cannot work out well. (Just ask the Angels and Albert Pujols!) And that’s why this makes me think of Kershaw, the Dodgers, and their crazy spending over the last year or two: you can complain about taking on all that Carl Crawford salary, or signing Brandon League, or giving Brian Wilson $10m a year, or signing every Cuban — and for many of those things, we have — but they’ve stuck to their “not past age 36″ rule so far. It’s a rule that’s served them well, and one I hope they stick to.
Los Angeles, CA
Anyway: baseball! It’s been weird to see every other team playing spring games this week while the Dodgers have been on the sidelines after their journey to Australia, and it’s probably going to be weirder to watch this game knowing that it doesn’t count after they just played two games that did. (Or, watching those Australia games didn’t feel like they counted. I’m not sure which.) We get our first look at Zack Greinke since March 12, Yasiel Puig selfishly bats before everyone else, and otherwise these are more or less the Opening Day lineups for both teams. (The Angels will utilize Raul Ibanez at DH, while Greinke will hit for himself, because Greinke is awesome.)
You won’t, however, see Alex Guerrero, who apparently strained an oblique and is out for this series. But at least Corey Seager is in town and available, and it’s never a bad thing when we get a look at him.
While the game is on SNLA, you’re in luck if you can’t get it, because the Angels will be broadcasting it as well on Fox Sports West. Also, we’ll get our first look at what seem to be some cool improvements to Dodger Stadium. But mostly, we’ll be watching mostly real lineups play kind of fake baseball, reminding us that the real thing is so very, very close.