Friday, August 21, 2009

Bud Selig Shenanigans

The deadline to sign a MLB team's draft picks came and went a week ago Monday, so let's see what we've learned from the debacle, er, draft.

1. Recommended slot means JACK

Teams do not care about a recommended slot price. The slot price was engineered to give teams an idea as to what the appropriate price should be for a player - but that doesn't matter in negotiations since that a non-mandatory price is not leverage against agents. A stern lecture from Bud Selig as the penalty for going over slot to a team's general manager is hardly cause for concern when trying to sign its 1st round draft pick to a six-year deal. I'm sure Billy Beane put the phone down and let Selig jaw on for a few minutes when he doled out the highest 4th round money ever to C Max Stassi (to prevent Stassi from going to UCLA). If you want teams to follow a slot price, do what they do in the NBA: MAKE IT MANDATORY. This leads me to the next point that:

2. Draft spot means ZILCH

Players slide down the draft board based on a number of reasons: agent, likelihood of entering college, makeup, etc. But without a mandatory slot, some players (like Shelby Miller in 09) will still receive vastly more money than their neighbors due to where they would have been drafted if not for their choice in agent.

Other recent issues with MLB:

3. A 5-game suspension is NOT the same for hitters and pitchers

Kevin Youkilis and Rick Porcello were recently each suspended for 5 games for their roles in a minor bench-clearing fracas. Youk thought Porcello threw at him intentionally and so he charged the pitcher only to be body-slammed to the Earth by the 20 year old (even more bizarre since Youk had a better center of gravity and weighs a good twenty pounds more, though most of that could be in the birdhouse of a chin-beard. I digress.).

Each player was suspended for 5 games but since Porcello is a pitcher and usually pitches every 5 games, the the Tigers were able to sub in another pitcher for Rick and let him go with an extra day of rest on his next turn. The Red Sox, however, were without Youkie's services for almost a week. The way that hitters and pitchers are suspended is never equal and there needs to be a change made in the next CBA. Below is my idea for an amendment:

A. Assume every hitter will play 162 games and each pitcher will make 32 starts. Make the suspensions based on the percentage of games/starts that will be missed by each player instead of just the sheer number. So in the case above, if Youk is going to be suspended for 5 games (3% of his games), MLB needs to ensure that Porcello is suspended for the same amount of starts (= 1 start).

B. It is easy to make sure that a hitter misses the appropriate time; he simply won't play. Pitchers are a little trickier since the rotation can be manipulated in such a way that enables a suspended player to not miss a start, thereby not hurting his team. There needs to be a way to ensure that a pitcher actually misses time from the team otherwise the suspension is essentially moot from the team's standpoint. But by suspending both yet leaving them on the active roster, a team leaves an open spot on the active roster. This is why I suggest placing suspended players (both hitters and pitchers) on a Suspended List that acts as a Disabled List in that the team can call up a player to fill the open spot on the roster left by the suspended player. If a pitcher is suspended for 1 start, he must remain on the SL until three (or four, depending on if the team requires a fifth starter at that point in the season) of his rotation mates have pitched in front of him.

So for example if Porcello is suspended for one start, and he just pitched on Aug. 25, he would be suspended for Aug 26, 27, 28, 29, miss his start on the 30th and not be eligible to pitch again until Sept 4th. The Tigers would place him on the SL so they could replace his open spot on the roster and then they could activate him on Sept 4th and remove his replacement from the roster.

C. Time on the suspension list for hitters will amount to a loss of a paycheck for time spent on the list, but not so for the pitchers. If a hitter is suspended for 5 games, he will spend 5 games on the SL and forfeit his paycheck for 5 games. If a pitcher is suspended for the pitcher equivalent of 5 games (i.e. 1 start), he will forfeit one start check but be required to spend the appropriate time on the SL.

This is just one creative way of fixing the problems associated with suspending players. Would love to hear questions/comments from others.

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