The Slippery Slope of MLB’s Deal with DraftKings

There are so many fun things going on this season that I should glory in a seven game division lead and sing the Yankees’ praises. And maybe I will do that next week. However, there has been something sticking in my craw for weeks now and I need to talk about it. The “It” is Major League Baseball’s marriage to DraftKings. The deal is, of course, worth millions to the league and its owners and you could even say that it draws more interest to the game from casual fans. But that doesn’t make this a good thing for the game.

First, some background, both personal and about how we got here. Let’s start with the latter. In 2006, the federal government passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in response to a growing plague of online gambling sites. As a part of that law, it is spelled out that fantasy sports are not gambling because it is a game of skill and not of chance.…

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The Myth About “Bad” Big Contracts

Courtesy: NY Newsday

The prevailing wisdom around the Yankees is that big contracts like the ones Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have are what is killing the team. In reality, those contracts have been fine and fans in general worry way too much about them.

I never get fans who would rather see the money go into the pockets of the owner than into the players’. The difference in the Yankees over the last two plus seasons is that they’ve been spending less and the performance on the field has suffered. Sure, Hal Steinbrenner fooled most people with his shopping spree in the 2013-14 offseason. People didn’t realize how much money came off the books and that the payroll was only about $120 million to begin that offseason, so the Yankees didn’t really go above and beyond at all.

The business model the Yankees used from 2001 through 2012 absolutely worked. The lack of championships are lamented, but the reality is that the Yankees put themselves in the best position to bring home rings every season winning 95 plus games.…

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The Real Problem With Not Signing Yoan Moncada

It’s been over 24 hours since the news of the Red Sox signing prized Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada broke, and as I mentioned earlier I’m still struggling to make sense of it from a Yankee perspective.  This felt like it should have been a slam dunk.  This was going to be the big cherry on top of the international spending sundae, the big signing that got the Yankees back in the game of landing top-tier Cuban talent.  That’s a game the team has been hesitant to play since signing Jose Contreras, and the call for them to re-engage has grown incredibly loud as we’ve watched good player after good player sign with other teams over the past few years.

Once again the player in question did not sign with the Yankees, and this instance more than any other has generated a ton of negative reaction from the Yankee fanbase.  How could they lose out to the Red Sox?  How could they fail to make the biggest offer?  …

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Why I’m Only Pretty Sure I’m Ticked They Let Moncada Go

Wow, my timing remains great: I write an ode to Frankie Cervelli one day before he’s unexpectedly traded, then a brief supporting a Moncada signing one day before he becomes a Red Sock. Feel free to hit me up for stock or pony tips, because I’m clearly clairvoyant. Anyhow, I’m ticked they didn’t get him, but it’s very possible I’m wrong:

(1) To start with, he seems worth it even if you’re not a cockeyed optimist. Even if he’s not at the level of a #1-2 overall draftee, and instead is only the 8th-15th best draftee, that’s good for an expected 11.5 WAR in his six team-controlled years, and $60m is well-below-market for that. And if he’s really a #1-2, his expected production is then easily double his pricetag, given that (as the same linked article shows) you can expect 24-28 WAR in the first six years of a #1-2 overall draftee.

(2) But the Yankees and all other teams declined to bid $70-80m after seeing him repeatedly, and we non-insiders saw him zero times.…

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One Last Moncada Analysis: Why He’s Worth the First Nine-Figure Prospect Signing

A Yoan Moncada signing may be imminent, with Hank Steinbrenner attending Moncada’s notable third private workout with the Yankees just days ago, so I’ll take this last chance to weigh in on whether he’s worth the small fortune he’ll cost. My first thought was: No way is a 19 year-old amateur worth the $80-$100m we hear he may get. My second thought was: Come to think of it, I have no idea what a top draft pick is really worth to a team. Team owners prevent American amateurs from earning their true value by agreeing to sign them only in a “draft” — i.e., a cartel agreement that each player will get an offer from only one employer, not from multiple employers bidding for his services. I’ll leave for another day my tirade about how badly baseball owners violate free-market economics and morality by being tied with OPEC as the top billionaires-for-cartelization club. But the point is that the several million it takes to sign a top draft pick is his cartel-depressed price, not his value to his team.…

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Report: Yoan Moncada Officially Declared A Free Agent By MLB

Via Jeff Passan, top Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada was officially declared a free agent by MLB today.  He is now eligible to sign with any team.

According to Passan’s report, MLB will require all players wishing to come over to sign with teams to provide a sworn affidavit stating that they have established residency in another country, have no intention of going back to Cuba, and are not Cuban government officials.  This will allow them to receive the general unblocking license from the US government that was the apparent holdup previously.  Funny how that first story came out last week about MLB dragging its feet on the licences and now we have a resolution this week.

With MLB’s shenanigans in the rearview, the Yankees move right to the front of the line of favorites to sign Moncada.  They have until June 15th of this year to make him any offer they want plus a 100% penalty tax on the deal.  …

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Update On The Moncada Situation: The Wheels Are In Motion, Things Are Happening Even As We Speak

Not sure too many people saw the update to yesterday afternoon’s Yoan Moncada unblocking post, so here’s the full update as of early last night.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the policy requiring native Cubans to apply for and receive a specific unblocking license before they can be let into the United States has been changed by the US Treasury Dept.  Because he had already met the criteria required for the general unblocking license, Moncada has now been declared eligible to enter the US to play baseball, at least as far as the US government is concerned.

The burden now falls on MLB to verify Moncada’s identity and residency paperwork before officially declaring him a free agent.  MLB had been hiding behind the specific license policy as a way to avoid that responsibility and delay Moncada’s entry into the country, for reasons we’ll never be told but I assume I already know.  According to Passan’s report, MLB was working yesterday to set up a meeting with the US OFAC to go over the specifics of the policy change.  …

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Report: MLB Holding Up The Yoan Moncada Proceedings, Not US OFAC (UPDATED)

Here’s an interesting new wrinkle in the Yoan Moncada sweepstakes.  According to this report by Ben Badler, the holdup in getting him unblocked and eligible to sign does not reside with the US Dept. of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control as many believed, but rather with MLB itself.

“Any Cuban national who presents documents showing permanent residence in a country outside of Cuba qualifies for OFAC’s ‘general license,’ which is not a written document. As far as OFAC is concerned, that should make him unblocked, and that’s good enough for the government to allow him to sign.

The holdup is that MLB won’t let Moncada—or any Cuban player, for that matter—use the general license any more. That wasn’t always the case. Yasiel Puig, for example, signed using the general license. It’s not clear what exactly changed, but at some point in 2012 after Puig signed in June that year, MLB no longer allowed Cuban players to sign using the general license and instead required them to apply for the specific license, which is a written document from OFAC…

“MLB issued the following statement to Baseball America on Sunday: ‘MLB is confident with the current plan we have in place regarding signing foreign born players and will abide by the guidelines of the OFAC requirements.’

Except, by the OFAC guidelines, Moncada has met the criteria of the general license to be considered unblocked, and he is not alone.

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Hal Speaks On The Offseason (And Some Other Stuff)

Hal Steinbrenner was on hand for the latest owners’ meeting in Arizona yesterday, and as he usually does when he’s out and about, he held court with the Yankee beat writers on hand to talk about the latest happenings in Yankeeland.  I could bust his balls here for implying that the Yankees don’t have room to spend more money or for pointing out the health risks in the rotation while not addressing the need to address those risks, but I’ll just skip that and let people judge his comments for themselves.  All quotes via Ken Davidoff:

On the team’s offseason goals- “We had numerous goals.  Two of the goals were to get younger and get better defensively. I think we’ve done that. I think our bullpen’s better. I think it’s one of the best in baseball, quite frankly. My opinion.”

On the payroll budget and Cash working within that- “We started out with a payroll that was already high before we did anything.

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