The Expos made their first big splash since the announcement they plan to move to Washington, agreeing Tuesday to a $6.2 million, two-year contract with third baseman Vinny Castilla and a $16.8 million, four-year deal with shortstop Cristian Guzman.My first reaction, after the swearing, was that Jim Bowden has no right to saddle the incoming owners with Guzman for four years. He's acting like he's the real GM or something. My second reaction was more swearing. One at a time:
- Castilla parlayed some Colorado home-cookin' into a nice and undeserved contract. Fine, he had an .867 OPS last year with 35 homers and 43 doubles. But his road OPS was 774, with a Batista-like .281 on-base percentage. He's solid defensively (9th among 3B in fielding Win Shares last year, a respectable 22 Runs Above Replacement), but we will be getting very little offense from the hot corner. It's only two years, but that's one year too many. Brendan Harris will fester on the bench for a while, I guess, while we endure endless My Cousin Vinny jokes.
- I still haven't decided which of these is worse, but I'm thinking the Guzman contract wins on length alone. Four year - four damn years - of this guy. Yeah, I know, he hasn't reached his offensive potential, and now we have the pleasure of watching him put up .310 OBPs for four years on the off chance that he gets it up into Julio Lugo territory. It's like what I say when people get all whistful about Orlando Cabrera: if you want an all-glove, no-bat shortstop, Maicer Izturis is already in the system and he's practically free. If Guzman can match his 2004 defensive performance, this won't be awful. But he won't and it will.
The signings accomplished something else: they set a land speed record for proving Will Carroll wrong. In his latest foray into magical realism, the fabulist Carroll gives a run-down of the injury problems associated with some of the top free agents and provides a prediction for where they'll end up. We get Edgar Renteria. That prediction was absurd when he made it, and was firmly refuted a mere six hours later. Keep up the good work, Will! Maybe we'll sign Magglio Ordonez and prove you right for once. And maybe Cristian Guzman will win a batting title.