Let the Feeding Frenzy Begin!

Have you ever wandered into one of those all-you-can-eat buffets at around 3 PM in the afternoon? It was a little late for a lunch hour and way too early for dinner and so I erroneously thought I would have the place to myself. Instead I reach the parking lot to see that there are no spaces available and the line stretches out the door and part way around the building. As I approached the end of the line I also realized I was way out of my element. Although I am no kid, I was nearly half the age of most of the people standing in front of me. I rarely go to all-you-can-eat buffets so I was extremely out of my element. I obviously didn’t know the routine and the other patrons were quick to let me know that with each mis-step I made. By the time I finally reached the serving line the room was already in a frenzy with arms and legs and a few canes waving around as people staked out their claim on one dish or another. The closest thing I could equate the experience to was a program I once saw on the Discovery Channel during Shark Week. That is until today.

Since the conclusion of the 2007 World Series, teams have had exclusive rights to talk to their free agent players and offer them contracts to return for 2008. Starting at midnight that exclusivity is no longer in play. Now every major league franchise is able to speak to anyone who is a free agent in hopes of bolstering their roster for next season. With the relatively limited number of quality free agents available this off-season I can anticipate the baseball equivalent of what I saw at the buffet table.

Some of those old people were surprisingly spry when it came to maneuvering the buffet lines. They had obviously been here before and with the early-bird special for those over the age of 65 they had a distinct monetary advantage. The glided down the line cherry-picking the best from each tray not worrying at all about what the cost of the food was either in calorie content or nutritional value. Me on the other hand I wanted to know what was contained in each dish. I am trying to maintain my weight and have started to seriously consider the consequences if I choose poorly and over-run my caloric budget. I’m also concerned about the overall balance of my meal. I probably would not enjoy it if I went straight to the soup line and picked up 9 different styles of soup and nothing else. I also wouldn’t be too successful if I skipped right to the desserts and filled my tray with sugary goodness. The whole rest of the night and probably tomorrow I would pay for that poor decision.

Such is the case in free agency. For those who know what they are doing and have the resources it is possible to fill your roster with a balanced team. For other teams, they have to be careful and not over-spend in on area or else they will find themselves not doing too well. I know every time I think about the fact that the Arizona Diamondbacks are still paying Russ Ortiz I get sick to my stomach. For a mid-market team like the Diamondbacks the free agent market is a lot like a sampler platter. It’s great to see all the wonderful eye candy and there are times you may wish you could fill your plate but prudence is the best policy. The free agent buffet makes it too easy to over-indulge which results in heartburn that can last from April to October.

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