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Miguel Cabrera extension: MLB executives 'appalled,' but what did they expect?

If the average fan can see that Miggy's new deal is probably going to get ugly, the Tigers probably can too.

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Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE


Miguel Cabrera has the biggest contract in the game. All the vehement outrage can now be put aside that the two-time MVP has topped A-Rod and Albert Pujols. No longer will we have to wretch and writhe under the covers every night in an empathetic fever. Now we can rest easy, knowing that the world is in fact a logical place.

What? That's not what people are saying?

They're saying Miggy's deal is "unnecessary"? Even "madness"?


Well, those are just journo-hype pieces written to get clicks from the common man gasping in a jealous awe at the god-blasted BIGNESS of those numbers, right? That response is natural, and someone needs to articulate those feelings. They do have a point, in a Degrasse Tyson sort of way, but within the industry people understand that this is the megamarketmonolith they themselves have created ...

Oh. Okay. So, now that the monster is cruising around in a stolen DB9 mauling random people in the street, Dr. Frankstein is shaking his head in shame?

What did they think was going to happen?

Of course, the nebulous "team executives" that are quoted in disgust aren't the only ones to blame for the current state of the sports marketplace, but they have certainly played their part. If Masahiro Tanaka and Jacoby Ellsbury are each worth $150 million, isn't the best hitter in the game worth much, much more? The Tigers wouldn't trade Cabrera to the Yankees for Tanaka and Ellsbury, would they?

The market clearly isn't that simple. You can't make absolute claims about value in any aspect of life, let alone something as fickle and romantic as the game of baseball.

Several very smart, perspicacious people have attempted to construct a comprehensive monetary value system using wins above replacement -- people like Dave Cameron, Matt Swartz, and Lewie Pollis, just to name a few. It's wildly interesting, and it can give fans -- and even some teams -- information on which deals make the most sense, where the market inefficiencies are, and a profusion of innovative ideas that haven't even been thought yet. Baseball is moving into new era. It already has to some extent, but now that at least one team has their own supercomputer, the rest are sure to follow. Who knows how the marketplace will change when HAL 9000 is in charge ...

Even so, one thing will probably stay the same until the computers rise up an exact judgement on us: human impulse. That's the factor that throws a wrench into the gearteeth of universal value.

Sure, it would make sense for the Tigers to let Cabrera walk if he wouldn't sign a more relatively, yet still absurdly ridiculous deal. But the Tigers simply weren't going to let that happen. Cabrera is almost certain to be an albatross by the end. The whole thing will go up in flames, but signing baseball players -- especially the generational prophets of athleticism like Miggy -- isn't an especially rational endeavor. When a great player becomes available, teams scramble after him and think about the consequences later. Or -- as the Tigers have done with Cabrera -- they make an obscene offer before the melee begins.

Either way, the result is far from rational, and the executives that are shaking their heads now are just as responsible for the seemingly eschatological weight of Cabrera's contract as the Tigers are.

Why wouldn't the absurdity -- that the league has created as a whole -- apply to its greatest players?

This isn't a sudden lurch forward or a hedonistic splurge on the part of one organization. This is what Baseball has decided its best hitter is worth -- not in a pretentiously decadent spasm, but over years and years of Vernon Wellses and Barry Zitos.

They all helped make it what it is, so it seems kind of "unnecessary" for them to start complaining about the "appalling" nature of it now.