Or at least he talks with people who talk about the economy. Why are so many free agents looking for work?
A high-ranking official of one AL team said: "Out of the 30 teams in the sport, 15 are scared to death by this economy. They're scared about ticket sales. They're scared that sponsorships are going to be cutting back. They're just scared."
Meanwhile, one NL club official had a more basic explanation. Essentially, he said, it's the agents' faults.
"Everybody predicted this," he said. "All the predictions said this market would be difficult, and these guys just misread it. They didn't take jobs that were offered, and now those jobs aren't there anymore. They had jobs. They didn't take them."
I don't know about you, but I would put the Astros squarely in the STD camp ("scared to death". Dirty...). But it's true, for the last However Many years, the players who wait to sign find their price tag goes up as GMs start to panic. That's not happening this year. No one looks more brilliant than Jeremy Affeldt and his agent Michael Moye for being the first free agent to sign (for two years and $8 million, with a $1 million signing bonus). Oh, and Moye just happens to be Berkman's agent, too.
What you're seeing (and Stark addresses this, too) is Convenient Collusion (though I came up with the term). There's never been a better time to be in baseball management and say Screw You to the players and their agents, because the backlash against the players is off the charts. Suddenly it's responsible management to let Manny dangle and it's bizarre, and it's completely intentional.