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Baseball Is Broken (off the field/labor relations etc.)

Discussion in 'MLB Discussion' started by jon abbey, Jan 29, 2018.

  1. jon abbey

    jon abbey Shanghai Warrior Dope SoSH Member

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  2. Apisith

    Apisith Member SoSH Member

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    The craziest thing is Tony Clark getting a contract extension just two months ago.
     
  3. Van Everyman

    Van Everyman Member SoSH Member

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    At least Tony Clark is killing the whole league now and not just the Red Sox.
     
  4. Apisith

    Apisith Member SoSH Member

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    Grandal getting 1/$18m is also crazy. Dude is a top 5 catcher and can't get anything more than a year. The FA market is completely broken.
     
  5. jon abbey

    jon abbey Shanghai Warrior Dope SoSH Member

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    That one’s a bit different as he turned down a 4 year deal for $50M+ from the Mets, inexplicably.
     
  6. Apisith

    Apisith Member SoSH Member

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    Even taking into account him and his agent misplaying the market, to have a top 5 catcher receiving only 1 major contract offer longer than 1 year is still a big sign that the FA market is broken for me.
     
  7. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

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    Actually it was the players (well, Marvin Miller) who turned down this idea, one that IIRC was championed by Charlie O. (Plus, frankly, the fans would never put up with it.)

    From this article:

    If you’re old enough to have remembered wearing bell bottom jeans or full color polyester pants, you might remember the dawn of free agency. It came about because of a landmark 1975 ruling by the late Peter Seitz, an independent arbitrator who – as part of a three-person board with one representative from the owners and one from the players – determined that veteran pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally should become free agents after playing a full season without signed contracts. When Seitz ruled in favor of the two pitchers, the MLB owners panicked. They worried that most players would become free agents on an annual basis, creating chaos. Not wanting that to happen, the owners negotiated a compromise system that allowed players to become free under two conditions: a) their contracts had expired and b) they had accumulated at least six years of major league service time.


    It was an adept piece of negotiation by Marvin Miller, the head of the Players’ Association. He felt that all-out free agency might be bad for the players; if all players became free agents every year, then they would create an oversaturation of the market and actually compress salaries for all but the superstar players. By introducing a system of six-year free agency, Miller ensured that only a few players would become free each winter. Miller figured that demand would increase for those players, thereby pushing their salaries higher and higher. Miller figured right.
    I wonder if anyone has ever run a simulation on whether total FA would save or cost money for the owners.
     
  8. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    What’s inexplicable is the Red Sox not being in on him and the Dodgers not being willing to bring him back. The luxury tax and its development dollar penalties without a salary floor is the reason that Grandal didn’t get more multi year offers.
     
  9. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    I think what the players need to argue for is a system that incentivized teams to not suck. There is basically no demand for good players from about half the league right now. As someone pointed out, that’s somewhat rational, because there is no economic benefit from winning 75 games as opposed to 71.

    Suppose that for teams that did not exceed the luxury tax, and who spent at least half the luxury tax, but didn’t make the Division Series, there was a set of perks that helped you get better sooner. Let say that if you won at least 72 games, you got an extra 3rd round pick, and teams that won 81 games additionally got an extra 2nd round pick. Suddenly being .500 with a $105 million payroll gets you a big benefit relative to going 70-92 with a $80 million payroll. Add to that system a clause that says if you lost more than 95 games while not spending at least half the luxury tax threadhold, you lose your 2nd round draft pick, and if you lose 100 games with a skimpy payroll you lose your 3rd round pick too, and the incentive to not suck gets even bigger.

    The penalties for losing incentivize even very low payroll to teams to spend, day, $60 million instead of $50 million.
     
    #209 Plympton91, Jan 10, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  10. dhappy42

    dhappy42 Straw Man

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    I can’t imagine this ever happening, but if the MLB had a tiered division system like soccer, teams that consistently underperformed could be relegated.
     
  11. Pandarama

    Pandarama lurker

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    Relegation means next to nothing in a system where MLB clubs “own” the minor league players.
     
  12. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

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    One small but simple and fast fix MLB could make to assist veteran players is to exempt a portion of eligible veteran salaries from the luxury tax calculation. Unless I've missed something, the NFL has a similar policy.

    The hard part is to figure out which contracts MLB wants to incentivized. Clearly, MLB would want a rule that carves out the top FAs but MLB could certainly use this to incentivize the signing of the mid-tier FAs, who appear to be losing out.
     
  13. jon abbey

    jon abbey Shanghai Warrior Dope SoSH Member

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    I argued for this extensively here a few years ago, you would dump the AL and NL, make the DH universal, and with a year or two notice, separate the 30 teams into A league and B league, 15 teams each, based on record from the previous season or maybe the previous three seasons. Everyone plays 10 or 11 games against the other 14 teams in their league and then the rest against teams from the other league. There are no divisions, top 6 in league A make the playoffs, top 2 get byes. The top 3 or 4 in league B have their own playoffs and the two finalists are promoted, with the bottom two league A teams relegated.

    You’d lose the ability for a team to go worst to first in a year, but the A league regular season would be awesome all season long.
     
  14. lexrageorge

    lexrageorge Member SoSH Member

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    How do you handle the fact that the B league teams would potentially see a drastic decrease in TV, fan, and licensing revenue across the board, and would never be able to attract a single free agent?
     
  15. jon abbey

    jon abbey Shanghai Warrior Dope SoSH Member

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    If we’re assuming the total pie of revenues would be the same, then the better run teams like OAK and TB would benefit greatly and the more poorly run teams would be hurt. Past that, none of this is happening anyway and certainly there would be a billion details to work out if it was.
     
  16. bosockboy

    bosockboy Member SoSH Member

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    Put the first round of the draft in inverse order. First team outside of a playoff berth by record gets the top pick and go backwards from there. Second round on normal order. That would help.
     
  17. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    That’s a good idea. I’d give the losers of the gimmick game the first picks to avoid anybody losing to finish 6th instead of 5th.
     
  18. soxhop411

    soxhop411 Member SoSH Member

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  19. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

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    Umm, the players wanted arbitration, remember (and rightly so I might add)?

    I know this sounds offensive - particularly your opening line - but would people object as much if the belt was unofficially given to the team that won the most arbitration cases?

    I mean isn't that the point of arbitration - to try to win?
     
  20. soxhop411

    soxhop411 Member SoSH Member

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    Giving the “championship belt” is in essence incentivizing owners to submit lower arb numbers.

    More from that article



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    [​IMG]
     
  21. Adrian's Dome

    Adrian's Dome Member SoSH Member

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    You mean the team that wins the World Series gets AN ACTUAL TROPHY? Like, a bigger one than the team that wins the pennant?

    How is that okay?

    Sarcasm aside, when you put it in the context of "who can fuck the players the most," yes, it sounds bad. When you put it in the context of "who put on a good performance in negotiations in an office environment", it doesn't sound nearly as bad.
     
  22. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

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    So, umm, what's the problem again? Again, we've known for years that the clubs have been exchanging information and trying to hold down arbitration awards. Why? Because every arbitration award does affect every other team as they are used for comps.

    And don't you think that agents are sharing information among themselves about arbitration?

    Arbitration is generally considered to be an adversarial proceeding. Yes it is messy and yes it ends up with the clubs arguing things about a player that the players don't really want to hear. If the clubs aren't allowed to propose the lowest salary that is both reasonable and persuasive, then they aren't doing arbitration anymore, they're really doing charity.

    And BTW, arbitration is a such a lousy deal for the owners (as Charley O. Finley correctly foresaw), no one should begrudge them trying to use every reasonable tactic to try to slow down the effects of arbitration.
     
  23. DeadlySplitter

    DeadlySplitter Member SoSH Member

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  24. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

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    Interesting note that Passan just dropped in: "hundreds this winter lost individual shoe deals, sources said". Can understand why but wish he could have expanded on this.
     
  25. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    Relative to what? Reinstituting the reserve clause?
     
  26. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

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    Well, Charley Finley's idea was to make everyone a free agent at the end of the year, an idea which Miller feared: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/os-xpm-1996-02-25-9602240587-story.html. Another idea was to allow players to become free agents but put compensation in for the team that lost the player. There are other variations on this theme, but the bottom line is that arbitration was a bad idea for Owners since even when players lose, they are getting raises.

    From what I have read, the attorneys for the owners all advised against arbitration (can't find link right now).

    Arbitration has really been a major driver in increased salaries. From that article:

    In one fell swoop, the owners pretty much gave the house away, as arbitration allowed players to consistently receive substantial increases in future years, even during the bleak period of Ueberroth’s collusion. The players knew they had gained something special, as captured by this commentary from the Sporting News’ 1974 Official Baseball Guide:

    "Of the new gains the Players Association appeared particularly pleased with the unprecedented clause allowing salary arbitration. Previously, a player dissatisfied with his contract offer had no recourse. If he didn’t sign, he had to sit out since the reserve clause rule bound him to one club and he was unable to negotiate with any other team."
    Here's a pretty good history of arbitration: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct...&context=plr&usg=AOvVaw04L9lbSlEWOhwhYlEcTBhm
     
  27. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    Making everyone a free agent every year means A prohibition on long term contracts. How is that at all consistent with a competitive labor market equilibrium? It’s just a different artificial restraint of trade designed to screw over the players.

    Even still, I don’t think it would necessarily result in lower total payments to players than arbitration, but rather would result in an extremely screwed income distribution with the rookie of the year getting nine figures over 8 years instead of a couple million In his arb-3 year and another arb hearing the following year. But, many more players getting the minimum relative to arb.

    I also think those articles completely underestimate the advantages of arb to owners. Most important is they get to not give multi year guaranteed contracts, insulating themselves from injury and performance collapse. They are completely free to nontender anyone they don’t want to pay the arb salary to, and they can do so at the point in the offseason it is most disadvantageous to the players’ employment prospects, thus putting pressure on the player to settle for the team’s offer. And, they can cut the player midway through spring training for a fraction of the arb award. That’s further insurance against injury and leverage to hold down player demands. All That control is an option that has a huge amount of value to the option holder.
     
  28. jon abbey

    jon abbey Shanghai Warrior Dope SoSH Member

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    And again, the big difference between now and any other time in baseball history is that younger players are better and better all the time. Juan Soto put up literally the best numbers for any teenager in baseball history last year, topping Mel Ott. Mel Ott! Under the current system, guys like Soto and Judge and Acuna play at minimum wage for a few seasons, with the clubs reaping all the benefits and the players taking all the risk. That's the part that needs to be fixed, because it is screwing all players, since veterans have to compete for roster spots with the group of cheap and increasingly talented (and optionable) young players.
     
  29. Pandarama

    Pandarama lurker

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    The best of the young players are better than ever? You can probably make that case.

    All young players? I’d be interested to see the data behind that assertion.
     
  30. jon abbey

    jon abbey Shanghai Warrior Dope SoSH Member

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    There are a million recent articles on this and you can search for yourself, here is one I came up with on a very quick Google:

    "Last season, position players age 32 and older accounted for 12.9 percent of wins above replacement (WAR)
    and 18.6 percent of plate appearances, which were the lowest numbers that demographic have contributed since 1975 and 1979, respectively."

    https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/nobody-wants-baseballs-30-something-free-agents-anymore-/

    (That is the first time I have ever seen an emoji in a URL)
     
  31. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

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    Link is broken; here's the article: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/nobody-wants-baseballs-30-something-free-agents-anymore-😞/

    I have to admit I was skeptical of your claim - I mean the article you posted simply says that young players are playing more (well, at least since 1978) and thus generating more production.

    But from this ESPN article: "In 87 of the past 111 seasons, players 25 and under were collectively worse than average, and the median group of youngsters is 3 percent worse than average. There have been only two seasons in which 25-and-under players were better, relative to the rest of the league, than they were in 2018. One of them was nearly a century ago (1928), and in the other -- 1946, coming out of World War II -- young players took just 16 percent of plate appearances, the third-lowest share ever."

    So interesting.
     
  32. soxhop411

    soxhop411 Member SoSH Member

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    If baseball wants to punish teams for spending money to be competitive, they should also punish teams who intentionally tank or don’t spend money (like the O’s)
     
  33. Pandarama

    Pandarama lurker

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    Very interesting, thanks.

    (It was not obvious to me what the search terms should be, but then again I often find it easier to search for something I’ve already read once).
     
  34. jon abbey

    jon abbey Shanghai Warrior Dope SoSH Member

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    Yeah, sorry if I came off as obnoxious, here's another one from January now that I have a bit more time:

    "In 2000, players aged 30 and older took 86,019 plate appearances, and they threw 17,373 1/3 innings. They contributed 43.4 percent of all Wins Above Replacement (FanGraphs version).

    In 2017, players aged 30 and older took 69,110 plate appearances, and they threw 15,241 innings. They contributed 32 percent of all Wins Above Replacement.

    If that looks like a massive change, it should. While we're showing just two seasons there for the moment, the production center of baseball has been skewing younger for years, and by at least one measure, 2017 had the greatest number of above-average hitting seasons from players under 30 in the history of the game. It's changed roster composition. It's changed player evaluation. It is, in part, helping to create the ice-cold Hot Stove."

    https://www.mlb.com/news/baseball-s-stars-have-been-trending-younger-c264849018
     
  35. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    There are not enough teams competing for talent. The last expansion was more than 20 years ago. In that time Japan, Korea, and Cuba have been opened to MLB. Teams have invested heavily in Latin America. The US population has grown. The travel ball abomination has probably led to much better coaching and year round training at the expense of a normal childhood and many Tommy John surgeries.

    There should be at least 36 Major League Baseball teams by now.
     
  36. jon abbey

    jon abbey Shanghai Warrior Dope SoSH Member

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    Yeah, then we can have 18 tanking teams instead of just 12.

    Also, adding teams without changing the economic system isn't going to help the 32 year olds who are borderline talents, teams will mostly just promote more pre-arb kids.
     
  37. Papelbon's Poutine

    Papelbon's Poutine Homeland Security SoSH Member

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    Bwahaha and where are these six new teams going?

    There’s plenty of teams to compete for talent. There’s barely enough talent to stock the 30 there are, competently. A AAA all star team would probably lose to the orioles. But yeah, let’s rush those guys up so 12k people in Omaha or San Antonio can go watch.
     
  38. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    Depends on your definition of competently. The Orioles are trying to lose and are owned by a miser. That exists because our too weak anti-trust laws allow MLB to act as a monopsony purchaser of labor.
     
  39. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    So, have more playoff teams, and penalize teams for tanking.

    And yes, more revenue sharing. It’s never been clear to me why TV, attendance, and concessions revenues aren’t shared close to 50/50. If there’s no opposing team, then there’s no revenue at all.
     
  40. Harry Hooper

    Harry Hooper Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    More revenue sharing? I think I'd lean the other way. Just off the top of my head, how about setting some target of total wins -- say 75 wins -- and a team forfeits something like 2.5% of their revenue sharing funds for every win that they come up short of the 75 target?
     
  41. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    That’s a really good idea.
     
  42. wade boggs chicken dinner

    wade boggs chicken dinner Member SoSH Member

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    Given how much surplus value a typical #1 overall draft choice provides when there is a rookie wage scale, there is no way MLB (or NBA) could penalize teams sufficiently for not trying to win.

    If MLB insists on a rookie wage scale, MLB has to figure out a way to incentivize winning. I had proposed upthread that they give teams who didn't make the playoffs but won over 75 games extra salary cap or draft compensation. That would be one simple way of doing it.
     
  43. dhappy42

    dhappy42 Straw Man

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    It’ll never happen, but reorganizing the leagues like soccer, with a “premier” league at the top and relegating poor performers to a lower tier would definitely incentivize winning.

    Fake edit: To continue the fantasy, it’d be good for baseball and baseball fans if minor league teams had more incentive to win (as opposed to being primarily development/training teams for their MLB owners/affiliates.) I think Bill James used to recommend this — making most MiLB teams independent from the majors.
     
  44. Papelbon's Poutine

    Papelbon's Poutine Homeland Security SoSH Member

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    I mean at a major league level. Diluting the talent pool by 6 more team (x 25 guys per alll levels of minors) isn't "fixing" anything, it's putting worse players on the field, resulting in shittier product and forcing 6 cities that can't support a team to either tax themselves or the city to build a stadium. Expanding solves literally nothing

    I have no idea how you're getting from A to B here, but regardless, it has nothing to do with what we're talking about regarding expansion.
     
  45. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    By your argument baseball should contract. I disagree.

    I guess I also could have been clearer by specifying that I don’t mean that they should wake up tomorrow and increase the league by 6 teams in 2020. They last expanded in 1998. They should have gone to 32 teams around 2008 and then to 34 in 2018, and be making plans for 36 by the middle of the next decade.

    And I wouldn’t put teams in Omaha. I’d put one in Manhattan, another one in LA, several cities within 30th largest markets in the country don’t have teams, theres no excuse for not going into Vegas now that they’re coordinating with MGM to facilitate sports betting,

    And even if those 4-6 teams all employed nothing but pre-arb players, that would still mean those players were making at least 10X the triple A average.
     
  46. Sandwich Pick

    Sandwich Pick lurker

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  47. Lose Remerswaal

    Lose Remerswaal Leaves after the 8th inning Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    There's no land in Manhattan. A "West Side Stadium" was a big proposal 15-20 years ago but that land is gone. If you had said "Northern New Jersey with good transit connections" that might play
     
  48. Ale Xander

    Ale Xander Member SoSH Member

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    It'll never happen, for obvious reasons, but, technically, there's Central Park, especially just south of 65th. There's already 6 softball fields there (Heckscher), right between the aptly named Umpire Rock and Ballfields Cafe.
     
  49. Lose Remerswaal

    Lose Remerswaal Leaves after the 8th inning Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Why did you post that?

    Who doesn't know that?
     
  50. Papelbon's Poutine

    Papelbon's Poutine Homeland Security SoSH Member

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    No, it just shouldn't expand any further.

    Whether you're doing it gradually or all at once doesn't change the fact that there isn't enough talent or viable markets to carry 36 teams and systems without diluting the product. Maybe down the road we start to see more athletes opt for baseball over football due to the injury concerns and CTE, but until then, it's not really debatable.

    Also, you decry tanking, but you want to make the pool of teams that have no shot bigger? And maybe you could extrapolate on why they "should" have made those incremental expansions you suggest.

    Why is this a bonus to me or any fan?
     

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