Sure, it's early. But there's an old saying in baseball: "It's never too early to make conclusions about young men who wear funny pants and hit round balls with sticks." So what follows are four groups of 2004 free agents, categorized by what the general managers who hired them might be saying today:
"Oops. I think I did it again."
Didn't see this one coming. No, really, I didn't. I thought that $8 million was quite a reasonable price for one year of Nomar Garciaparra. Sure, he's never been quite the same since an injury cost him most of the 2001 season. But he looked pretty good last season when he was able to play, he was coming off an offseason of rest and wedded bliss, and he might already be thinking about his next contract (which will commence in 2006). So of course he plays 14 games, bats .157, then hits the disabled list with a serious groin injury.
And then there are the ones that you did see coming, like a line of thunderstorms across the Great Plains. It didn't take a genius to guess that Eric "Flyball" Milton might struggle upon making Great American Ballpark his new home. And wouldn't you know it, Milton's already surrendered 17 home runs. And with each gopher ball, we can't help but remember that the Reds owe Milton $25.5 million for three seasons.
Same category: Jaret Wright, who's owed a total of $21 million for this season and the next two, has contributed just two wins and a 9.15 ERA so far. At least he's got the decency to be on the disabled list, which might eventually allow the Yankees to save a few million bucks.