A little lesson in humility from Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness:
- After Scott Podsednik came to the Dodgers from Kansas City in late July, he hit an underwhelming .262/.313/.336 (79 OPS+) in 160 plate appearances with below-average defense and a net of only two stolen bases. That was all before September 9; he ended up missing most of the last month of the season due to plantar fasciitis.
Despite Podsednik’s subpar performance as a Dodger and the fact that he’ll be 35 in March, the club picked up their half of a $2m (plus $300k in incentives) mutual option in November. At the time, Ned Colletti seemed to leave the door open for substantial playing time for Podsednik should he return ...
Fortunately for us all, Podsednik declined his option, and the fact that I still say that after three months of watching the Dodgers try and fail to fill that LF hole should tell you all you need to know about my opinion of Podsednik. Presumably, Podsednik’s thinking at the time was that he could do better than a one year, $2m deal, particularly since reports were that he and the Dodgers were still having conversations about his return even after declining the option.
At this point, I think it’s clear that Podsednik probably screwed up by declining his option ...
But let's save some of the blame for Podsednik's agent, who might have done his best to convince his client that $2 million is a lot of money (even after taxes!) but might not have. Agents are capable of misreading the market, too. Though I suspect that's significantly less common than players misreading their own values.
For the record, here are Podsednik's estimated values, via FanGraphs, over the past five seasons: $0; negative $200,000; negative $1.7 million; $8 million; $1.6 million.
Granted, Podsednik made a brilliant comeback in 2009, and for a few months in 2010 he was a useful player. He'll turn 35 this spring, though. Would you bet $2 million on him at this point?
Podsednik is the sort of player you invite to spring training if your outfield is thin. Depending on what happens in spring training, you might eventually ask him to head to Triple-A and hope for the best. What you don't do is offer him anything like $2 million. The Dodgers were foolish to pick up their half of the option, and lucky that Podsednik declined. They shouldn't have any problem finding another outfielder who's cheaper, better, or both.