This guy gets paid real money to write for the New York Times. And this is the best he can do:
To start, that's a split infinitive- he should have written "Incredibly, the owners seem to have come...."
I'll spare you the entire Fire Joe Morgan routine, but could Murray Chase be wrong?
Maybe, instead of the owners "only" giving Carlos Silva a big free agent deal, maybe what happened was the teams who could afford to keep their pitchers kept them- especially the young ones who sold a year or two of free agency for the security of guaranteed money a few years ago (like Rich Harden), while the teams who couldn't afford to keep prospective free agents traded them straight to the teams that were going to shell out the FA dollars anyway.
The Twins traded Johan Santana to the Mets, who promptly paid $140 million to keep him from free agency.
The Marlins traded Dontrelle Willis (and Miguel Cabrera) to the Tigers, who promptly paid $30 million to Willis (3 years) and $150 million to Cabrera (8 years).
To further illustrate his argument, Chase points out that Tom Glavine, Kenny Rogers, and Andy Pettitte all signed one year deals; he conveniently ignores the fact that the first two are 42 and 43 years old (and nobody gets a multiyear deal at that age), while Pettitte basically honored the player option he'd turned down to take more time considering retirement (and he knew his name was going to be all over the Mitchell Report a week later, so protracted negotiations weren't likely to go in his favor anyway).
Might that be a better explanation for this past winter's tame free agent market than "uncharacteristic intelligence" from the MLB front offices?
Mr. Jolly, shoot me an email. I'll work for a press pass and enough cash to cover my cravings for Chinese food.