July 15, 2013

Mercury Retrograde: The $1 Billion Mistake.

Even a die-hard skeptic can’t deny a phenomenon that coincides with the reality and facts

That phenomenon is called Mercury Retrograde. During the three weeks that it occurs, baseball general managers make the worst trades of their career. Over the past three years, GMs have signed $1 billion dollars in bad contracts during Mercury Retrograde.

After 35 years of studying Astrology and observing the business of baseball, I began to notice that the worst player contracts were consistently signed (or negotiated) during this planetary event.

If you’re a traditional sports fan, you may be rolling your eyes and wondering, “What the hell is Mercury Retrograde?” Well, it’s an astrological event that happens three to four times a year when sharp, intelligent baseball executives—who are responsible for annual player budgets of $100 to $200 million—make very bad signing decisions.

Here’s why:

The planet Mercury rules your thinking, how well you formulate ideas, and overall communications. When Mercury goes Retrograde, communications go awry, are undependable and the data you receive cannot be relied upon; but worse, your critical mental faculties become cloudy and mistake-prone.

For a baseball executive, this is a horrible time to negotiate contracts or make decisions. Something about the player is unknown. And what is unknown could cause a GM to buy a lemon! In their analysis, the player’s performance and statistics looked excellent; however, after the deal is completed, the player no longer resembles the player they thought they signed. Something goes wrong! Eventually, the GM finds himself looking at the team owner, saying, “Gosh…what did we miss?”

As a sports astrologer I have the answer: During the 3-week period when Mercury goes Retrograde, you were not thinking clearly and had bad judgment.

Just as you wouldn’t drink a ½ bottle of Jack Daniels and hop in your car for a drive, you shouldn’t sign, even a great player like Carl Crawford, to a seven year, $142 million dollar contract, during Mercury Retrograde (as was done last year during Mercury Retrograde).

My three-year research study shows:

  • There is a 90 percent probability that a player signed during Mercury Retrograde will not perform to the expectations of his contract.
  • Over the past three years, GMs have wasted $1 billion dollars in bad player contracts signed during Mercury Retrograde.

No doubt, signing players is a tricky business. We all have watched a great player perform well for 3-5 years, sometimes for 7-10 years. Then, the very next year, their career unexplainably goes downhill quickly.

Because of this reality, a prudent GM doesn’t make a player contract decision during Mercury Retrograde. By ignoring this warning, the GM risks signing a player to a long-term contract, after his best (and last great) year. That’s precisely what the Cubs did when they signed Alfonso Soriano.

In 2006, Soriano was playing for the Nationals in his ninth and best year ever—a member of the elite 40-40 club (40 HRs–40 Steals). The Cubs proceeded to sign him on November 17, 2006, an eight year contract for $136 million. This not-so brilliant deal was put together during Mercury Retrograde.

$1 Billion Dollars in “Boo-Boos”

Here are $1 billion dollars of bad contracts signed over the past three years during Mercury Retrograde. In all cases, the player signed was subsequently injured during the beginning of his contract or performed way under expectations:

Jason Bay: Signed on December 29, 2009 by the Mets for four years, $66 million. In his first season with the Mets, Bay played in only 95 games, suffering a concussion and finishing the season with a .259 batting average, only six home runs (he hit 36 the year before), 47 RBIs, and scored 48 runs. He began 2011 on the disabled list.

Carl Crawford: Signed December 8, 2010 by the Red Sox for seven years, $142 million. Despite having been a fabulous and dependable ballplayer for years, after signing with the Red Sox, Crawford struggled at the beginning of the 2011 season, batting .137, stealing only two bases in his first 12 games. For the season, he batted .255 with an on base percentage of .289. Crawford subsequently had wrist surgery in January 2012. He had a horrible year in 2012, ended up on the 60-day disabled list and on August 23, 2012, underwent a season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Ryan Howard: Signed his extension on April 27, 2010 with the Phillies for five years, $125 million. He was one of the most dependable power hitters in the league with amazing offensive numbers. That changed after his signing during Mercury Retrograde. On August 1, 2010, he injured his ankle and began having health problems. In 2011, he tore his achilles tendon. He suffered continued ankle problems until he finished the 2012 season with a .219 batting average, 14 home runs, and 56 RBI in 71 games.

Many other disappointing signings during Mercury Retrograde include: Albert Pujols ($252 million), C.J Wilson ($77.5 million), Mark Buerhle ($58 million), Cliff Lee ($120 million), Jason Werth ($112 million) and Adrian Gonzalez ($154 million). Even signing a manager during Mercury Retrograde is likely to be a failure—just ask Bobby Valentine who signed with the Red Sox under that planetary jinx.

Were any good contracts signed during Mercury Retrograde? There have been very few exceptions; however, even in the case of a good contract signing, there is some fact that might not be revealed until Mercury goes Direct. For example, Ryan Braun signed a nine-year, $128 million extension on April 22, 2011, during Mercury Retrograde. He finished the season, winning the 2011 MVP. Then, in December, he was accused of testing positive for illegal use of drugs (again, during Mercury retrograde). He was eventually exonerated even though questions remain as to whether he got off on a technicality. More recently, he faces a suspension because of possible involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

Many of the worst contracts were negotiated during Mercury Retrograde, even though the physical signing may have occurred a few weeks later. For example:

Adam Dunn:  Signed December 2, 2010 by the White Sox for four years, $58 million. On April 6, 2011 he underwent an appendectomy, proceeding to have the worst season of his career. He ended the season with a .159 average, hitting only 11 home runs and recording 42 RBIs.

John Lackey:  Signed December 16, 2009 by the Red Sox for five years, $82 million. He was 14-11, with a 4.40 ERA in 2010, and in 2011, Lackey was 12-12 with a 6.41 ERA. At the end of the 2011 season, he underwent Tommy John surgery and was on the disabled list for the entire 2012 season.

The Best Advice

Never sign a player to a contract during Mercury Retrograde! Mercury is Retrograde from June 26th to July 20th. To appear like a GM genius, sign successful player contracts only when Mercury is Direct.

Remember, there is a 90 percent chance that signing a player during Mercury Retrograde won’t work out. Don’t let the fear of losing a great player to another team cause you to sign an expensive, long-term contract at a disadvantageous time. Let the competition waste millions.

GMs involved in a player negotiation during the Retrograde should delay the signing date until after Mercury goes Direct. By then, they are more likely to discover any problems that might change their interest in signing that player.

One more thing: It might be time to put a sports astrologer on the team payroll.

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Ed: Sara Crolick

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