Wow! I've gotten an amazing amount of grief in the past 24 hours regarding the Cubs signing of Carlos Pena. Especially from my White Sox friends! Most of this is focused on the $10 million dollar salary that the Cubs are going to pay him. And while I agree with the fact that Pena is not worth anywhere close to that amount, I have to ask the question of whether fans should care how much the players are paid?
When I think about that question, the answer I come up with is that fans should only care about how much players are being paid if it affects the team's ability to spend money on other players and get better. Call it the Alfonso Soriano rule. Or the Mike Hampton rule. Or the Kevin Brown rule. Or the... you get the point. The amount of money that Soriano will receive over the next four years significantly affects the Cubs ability to sign impact players because they already have so much tied up with Soriano. So he really needs to produce up to the level of his salary. Which he hasn't the last couple of years.
Pena, on the other hand, is only a one year deal. By definition, this really won't impact our ability to get better after this season. So why does it matter how much we pay Pena? If the Ricketts family wants to set their money on fire, I really don't care. So they can pay Pena $50 million this year if they want. He plays a position that we don't have any other good options for, so I welcome him to the team with hopes he has a good season and the expectation that he won't. Just as long as we have the option to spend the money elsewhere next year.