Getting Past the Knee Jerk Reactions to Baseball’s New CBA

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog).

Even in peace, MLB finds a way to get bruised. Instead of focusing on the unprecedented 21 years of labor peace that will result from yesterday’s new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the focus of many, if not most, has been on elements of the deal they don’t like. Interestingly, the strongest objections have been for items like draft slotting and expanded playoffs, which just so happen to be heralded in other sports. In some ways, that’s unfair, but baseball has always been held to a higher standard (see steroids) because it is the National Pastime.

We are headed for massive problems in the next CBA. Competitive balance is going to get progressively worse.” – Anonymous GM, quoted by Ken Rosenthal, November 23, 2011

The most repeated criticism of the new CBA is it has the potential to dampen competitive balance by restricting the amount of money that small market teams can spend in the draft and international free agent market.… Click here to read the rest

What The Yankees Should Be Thankful For This Year

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

To some of us, it might seem like being a member of the New York Yankees is a cakewalk.  Getting paid millions of dollars to play a game for a living, playing that game for the most well-recognized team in the history of sports, playing it in front of a packed house every night, winning titles, doing commercials, dating supermodels and actresses and singers, etc.  I know I wouldn’t mind living that life.  But don’t let that fool you into thinking that these guys take what they have for granted and are totally made in the shade.  Oh no, they still have plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season.  For example:

Mark Teixeira should be thankful that popping up on the infield with runners on base isn’t a fineable offense in the organization.  If it was, he probably wouldn’t be able to afford cranberry sauce this year.

A.J.Click here to read the rest

New CBA Prospect Rules Part 1: Why It's The Worst Possible System, and Why It Happened

By now, you’re probably a little bit familiar with the new CBA deal. Outside of the new rules for international signings and the draft, it’s a pretty good document. Some long-needed things like a defense for gay and lesbian players, HGH testing, 26-man Doubleheader rosters, luxury tax tweaks and changes to the free agent compensation system. That’s all great. I’d be very happy if that’s all they did. But the MLB and MLBPA decided to go ahead and do a horrible thing for baseball instead. They neutered the MLB player development process.

Here’s what they did:

De-Facto Hard Slotting. Each team will be assigned a draft budget, and will be penalized with a loss of future 1st round draft picks if they go above that threshold, with a small grace area. This is essentially hard-slotting. Now, the good news here is that the allocated budgets are fairly high. The Yankees won’t be able to buy as many players as they are used to, but they won’t be completely impotent at the draft either.… Click here to read the rest

How the new CBA shrinks baseball’s talent pool

First, let me put on my contrarian hat and say that I think people claiming that legitimate two sport athletes will now choose college football or basketball over professional baseball are probably really overstating the case. It’s true at the margins that baseball needs to worry about this potentially happening now, but as far as the truly elite athletes go, baseball is still the rational sport to play. Top picks in the draft can still expect to get nine figure signing bonuses, which is obviously more than you can make in college sports and outstrips the value of the full ride scholarships available in football and basketball. And since the new system caps spending through a total pool of money instead of hard slots by draft position, the elite of the elite in the draft will likely still command hefty bonuses. In other words, though it may push their bonuses down, the Joe Mauers and Bubba Starlings of the world will still get a lot of money to sign with a professional baseball team and, for them, baseball remains the rational choice over football, from a financial standpoint.… Click here to read the rest

On the Idea of Valuable

Earlier this week, Justin Verlander won the American League MVP a week or so after winning the American Cy Young Award. I can’t say I would’ve voted for Verlander, but I don’t have a huge problem with him winning; I guess I’m just finding it hard to get worked up. Friend of the author @bigmike05 had a great point here:

I find it hard to be worked up about any of the voting. This happens every year and given that we’re in the data recording age, no one’s going to get forgotten. Not like in 40 years someone’s going to go “you know, that Jose Bautista was pretty good in 2011. Too bad nobody noticed.”

That’s about how I feel now, though admittedly, I’ve gotten worked up about the MVP/CY/ROY etc. voting in the past. We’re most definitely at the point where everything will get its due attention–or at least close to it. Part of my “acceptance” is knowing that the word “valuable” will almost always mean something different to each and every voter.… Click here to read the rest

Phil Hughes And The Hard Lesson Of Prospect Hugging

Phil Hughes, master of packing on mass

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

I’m usually pretty good about letting things go when it comes to the Yankees (except some of Joe’s bullpen moves and sac bunts), but one thing that still stuck in my craw right now is the recent revelation that Phil Hughes came into camp out of shape in 2011 and the suggestion by the organization that he’s going to bounce back in 2012 because he’s spending this offseason training hard again and getting back to the shape he was in before 2010.

I’m on the record as stating that I’m an unabashed Hughes fan and apologist.  He’s listed on my “AB4AR Man Crush Hall of Fame” and even this disastrous 2011 season and recent news that could possibly explain that disaster won’t change that.  But 2011 and the constant ups and downs in Hughes’ career over the past few seasons, after the high hopes that were held for him and the pedestal he was put on early in his Minor League career, are just the latest reminder that baseball prospects are as tricky and unpredictable a business as anything and we as fans would be wise to never get too attached to any of them.… Click here to read the rest