Column: Burning money on the hot stove

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Jeff Budlong, Sports Editor

Here we go again.

That is the feeling I have gotten while watching the early portion of the offseason deals being struck in Major League Baseball.

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It seemed like teams and general managers were just starting to reign themselves back in from those A-Rod and Manny deals that made $252 million for 10 years seem just about right to Texas owner Tom Hicks.

I thought the lesson had been learned now that A-Rod is in pinstripes and Manny just being Manny now consists of almost as many trade demands as RBIs he produces.

Obviously, I was wrong.

On to the evidence:

A.J. Burnett &045; 5 years, $55 million from Toronto for a pitcher with a 49-50 career record and one reconstructed elbow.

B.J. Ryan &045; 5 years, $47 million from Toronto for a closer who had exactly six saves before last season’s 36 for Baltimore.

If Toronto is going to be competitive it had better hope Ryan is not this year’s Dan Kolb.

Paul Konerko &045;&160;5 years, $60 million from the Chicago White Sox.

I know he was a huge part of the World Series drive but it seems to me that he had contract year written all over his season.

Rafael Furcal &045;&160;3 years, $39 million from the Los Angles Dodgers.

Big bat money for a leadoff man who is taking the position of one of the few all-starts the team has. OK, its the Dodgers.

I still don’t think they know what they are doing.

There are many more examples and I am sure there will be plenty more to come, but the unfortunate thing is it really limits teams like Minnesota from improving.

A trade for Luis Castillo was a nice start for the Twins, but it doesn’t help the power bat situation that the team has been trying to address.

Names like Frank Thomas and Mike Piazza are still out there, but committing big dollars to players that are at the age where injury seems more likely than possible is not something that would be a preferred route I am sure.

The Twins have been praised for the farm system they have put together but power with the bat is something that has not been produced in abundance.

The free agents that are still available do not scream with a lot of potential, and now it appears that Jacque Jones will not be back, so another trade may be the only way to truly satisfy what this team wants.

The other problem that Minnesota now faces is the increased competition.

A few teams opening up their wallets wide to take several big names off the market only means that there are more teams looking to fill holes in their lineup and may be willing to spend more to do so.

The Twins proved during the season that they are not going to mortgage their future to try to win for one season, but it looks like this offseason is reverting back to big dollars for a few with the rest scrabbling for what is left.