One of the annoying things I see printed frequently by baseball writers -or hear from pundits elsewhere- is the sentiment that one specific contract can establish a market for an entire class of player. Such is the case this year with Toronto's signing of B.J. Ryan. While it's still possible that the Ryan signing heralds a new norm for closer contracts, until another team follows suit with a similar bid (to Billy Wagner, for instance) one contract can not by itself indicate a market shift and until the market accepts and duplicates the offer, it should continue to be seen as an anomaly.
Update [2005-11-29 2:40:40 by Rox Girl]:
Now that the Mets and Wagner have agreed to a four year forty-three million dollar contract we can see that the five year precedent set by Ryan's deal isn't being accepted by the market, even though the dollar figures involved might be. The Mets went to four years probably because of the deal made to Ryan, but from Pat Gillick's statement, we can see that other teams are less likely to follow suit further down the road.
Now, that being said, the Chicago Cubs by themselves are trying to inflate the middle reliever market by throwing vast sums of money to both Scott Eyre and Bobby Howry this offseason. With the Jay Witasick agreement completed earlier in Oakland and the supposed deal for Elmer Dessens in K.C., we can start to get a general sense of how much veteran relief help will cost us, and the numbers look daunting, particularly considering the other positions the Rockies have left to fill. Spending a couple of million dollars or more a year on an interchangeable and relatively replaceable reliever does not seem to me the safest move, and I find myself kind of hoping the Rockies delay their pursuit of relief help until this early frenzy has died down. This is especially so when the relievers we're apparently pursuing are named Jose Mesa and Brian Meadows.
Meanwhile, as far as catcher, the remaining active buyers (Colorado, New York Mets, Arizona, LA Dodgers) seemingly outnumber the readily available help (Ramon Hernandez, Bengie Molina, Paul LoDuca, Yorvit Torrealba, Toby Hall, Josh Bard) so if I were the Rockies, I wouldn't act rashly on this position either. The team with the biggest combination of need and resource, in this case, the Mets, will make their move and then the rest of the pieces should fall into place. What worries me a little here is the fact that two divisional rivals are in the mix, and the Rox might be tempted to overspend to keep the Dodgers and D-backs from getting second choice.