Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's Worth A Shot

  • Mets swing for the trying to get rid of K-Rod:

The Mets placed Francisco Rodriguez on the disqualified list and "unguaranteed" his guaranteed contract, which runs through next season with an option for 2012----ESPN Story.

I'm no contract person; one would assume there are morals clauses that extend to this type of action, but the Players Association is so powerful and rigid in defending their members that it's impossible to see this standing. Short of killing someone, a contract worth at least $15 million and potentially $29 million is not going to be voided.

The union does not like having player contracts messed with in any way. When Alex Rodriguez desperately wanted to get away from the Rangers and to the Red Sox, the player was willing to restructure his contract in such a way that would end up devaluing it and the union nixed the idea; they're also fond of exerting not-so-subtle pressure on members to go where the money is highest regardless of desired locale. Some players are strong enough to resist the cajoling and go where they want----Greg Maddux didn't want to play in New York for the Yankees and chose less money with the Braves in 1992; others aren't----Tom Glavine didn't want to leave the Braves in 2002, but his active role in the union forced him to take the Mets money.

That said, with K-Rod, hey, why not?

The assertion that because the Mets had already punished K-Rod with a 2-day suspension is somewhat weak to a logical though non-contractual mind; the suspension was for the act itself; the non-guaranteeing of the contract is for the act and that he got hurt while punching his 53-year-old father-in-law in the face repeatedly in front of women and children. To me, the Mets have an argument in doing what they're doing.

A telling sign for K-Rod's future with the club will be if they take steps to get a proven closer this winter. If K-Rod's contract is non-guaranteed and the Mets sign a Rafael Soriano or trade for Jonathan Papelbon or Bobby Jenks, maybe even Jonathan Broxton----all of whom will or could be available, then K-Rod is not going to be a Met on opening day 2011.

If I were still a betting man (I quit), I'd say K-Rod is the Mets closer on opening day 2011, but the club is doing their best to free up that money and excise a growth from the roster. It's a good sign for a no-nonsense future.

  • A risky proposition:

Bryce Harper signed a Major League contract with the Nationals worth a guaranteed $9.9 million over 5-years. Keith Law said the following about the deal and Harper's future:

Bryce Harper's deal with the Washington Nationals is a win for both sides, right down to the funny structure of the deal: $9.9 million spread out over five years plus $100,000 in salary, allowing the Nats to say it was under $10 million and Harper and Scott Boras to say it reached that milestone.

The major league contract puts Harper on the fast track to the majors, as he'll have four option years to finish his minor league apprenticeship, after which he would have to pass through waivers to return to the farm system. Harper now likely moves out from behind the plate to right field to speed his path through the minors. As a catcher, he had the potential to become one of the most valuable players in baseball, an offensive force at a position where teams are constantly messing around with Bengie Molinas and Rod Barajases. At the same time, leaving him behind the plate would have meant more development time as he improved his receiving and worked on game calling, and catchers are far more prone to injury than right fielders. Third base, another potential destination for hard-throwing Harper, is filled rather well in Washington right now by Ryan Zimmerman.

Harper's going to make it to the majors whether he hits .125 or .350, there's no question about that. A player with this much hype, this much money and apparently this much talent will get chance after chance to produce. The Nationals didn't have much of a choice in signing Harper to a big league contract and investing this amount of money in the 17-year-old; Harper didn't have much choice in signing the contract.

For a player who'd never played one professional game and proven himself against the Junior College competition, his value was never going to be higher. Everything Harper did was based on getting drafted and paid at 17; he got his GED at age 15 to move onto college to achieve that end, and he did it.

My question is how the money and status is going to affect Harper as a person. I don't care how mature someone is physically; he's still 17 and the eye black transformation into war paint is indicative of immaturity. What happens if Harper walks into his A ball clubhouse and has to deal with the resentment that is unavoidable for such a pampered prospect? If I were a manager or coach dealing with Harper, I'd tell him to lose the war paint. How's he going to react? Is he going to try to be a part of the team and follow orders or is he going to act as if he's entitled to do whatever he wants?

Bobby Valentine was a similarly worshipped player entering pro ball and was loathed by his teammates because of the special treatment he received (and also, presumably, due to him being Bobby Valentine and his grate personality----and I did mean to type "grate"). It's not a good thing.

We've seen these prospects before----you never know whether a player will live up to that lust.

Then there's the big league contract and potential for free agency and massive money at a young age. Harper's going to have a LeBron James-style hammer over the heads of the Nationals and the rest of baseball if he's in the big leagues by 19 or 20 and with free agency beckoning while he's still in his 20s. The complacency and disinterest for working as hard is not to be dismissed. I don't care how talented and determined a young player is, Harper's still 17 and that is what the Nationals have to worry about more than anything.

Without the disciplinary procedures; acceptance issues; and financial carrot functioning to keep a player in line, there's only the player himself and whether he's willing to behave appropriately.

And Harper's a kid; a kid with a lot of money; a lot of attention; and a bit of an attitude to begin with.

There could be problems. Big ones.

  • Viewer Mail 8.18.2010:

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger (Brooklyn Capo) writes RE the Mets and Jeff Wilpon:

This is year 8 After Doubleday. This is Wilponianism. It is up to him just like (Stuart) Sternberg (the B'klynite) instigated the change in Tampa/St.Pete. Texas recognized with ARod, Colorado with Hampton, and most recently Houston ate cash (without mentioning how much $ the NYY eat) because they recognized their business needed a correction. We can't have four players on the roster with no role and whom no one wants. That's precious roster space if they're committed to a youth movement. It's unlikely they'll be able to get out of KRod's full contract value. If they do...good, but there still needs to be more. Ollie or Castillo, please, at least one contract needs to be corrected in every sense of the word.

I don't think Jeff Wilpon is as terrible as he's portrayed, but he does have to take command as the boss of the franchise and handle the issues you suggested. Luis Castillo's contract is in its final year at $6 million in 2011 and they'll be able to move it for a similar contract. Perhaps for a struggling and well-compensated reliever or injury-plagued starter. Would the Angels take Castillo for Scott Kazmir? How funny would that be to see Kazmir back with the Mets?

The difference between Perez and the likes of Mike Hampton and ARod is that these were players who were wanted because they could still be of use; there was also the exchange of contracts in the deals. The Mets are going to have to swallow the whole thing with Oliver Perez and they're not going to have a choice unless they hire a new pitching coach who has the guru status to try and repair him; if Joe Torre comes in, would Mel Stottlemyre have that ability? Who knows?

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE K-Rod:

I agree that it's not the Mets' fault that K-Rod acted like an idiot, and I know the Players Association gets involved in these situations, but I keep waiting for someone on the Mets to get really angry.

I think it's safe to say that Jeff Wilpon was really angry.

Gabriel (Acting Underboss) writes RE the media:

I agree with Jane, where's going to be the line drawn? The worst part of media situations is that you can't be hard on the press because then they shape your image for their purposes by manipulating the masses. Such power should not go to people that know less than I do about their business.

It's a case of using what's available. Not everyone can have the integrity and skills----let's be honest here----that I do. It's the people applying and being given the jobs that's the issue. The media members either have an agenda or are lacking in the requisite knowledge and ability to present their cases in an organized and intelligent way.

Max Stevens writes RE the media:

Your ongoing criticism of mainstream baseball media has been fascinating and quite trenchant. Other than yourself, who in your mind are the good national-level baseball writers and reporters of today? People point to Verducci as a guy with an impeccable track record, but he strikes me as a Yankee propogandist. Gammons is/was ok, be he's an old coot at this point and does little to keep his Red Sox homerism under wraps. Keith Law, Jon Heyman and Joe Posnanski are unremarkable. Tim Kurkjian is irritatingly cloying. Are there any quality journalists left in the traditional outlets anymore, or is all the good stuff to be found in the blogs?

I actually like Tom Verducci. I used to read Peter Gammons avidly, but as his stature within the game has grown, he's been unable to maintain objectivity and unload on people within baseball who deserved it. He was never that much of a rabble-rouser to start with.

Law says something useful and intelligent occasionally. Heyman is a misery. I'm not a regular reader of Posnanski.

I like and respect Bill Madden and Jeff Pearlman (the guy's fearless).

The tie-ins between the media and sports on the whole have blurred the lines to the point where no one is willing to engage in an open manner for fear of being cast out. I'm already pretty much a pariah in certain circles, so a freedom comes with that for me to say whatever I want. Like me or not, at the very least you know what you're getting.

One thing has to be understood with me----it's not personal.

Jeff (Acting Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE K-Rod:

Hmmm. I'd like to see the Mets succeed in voiding that contract. I can't remember the last time that was done to success.

In a weird bit of timing, just yesterday Shawn Chacon's grievance for having the remainder of his contract with the Astros terminated after he attacked GM Ed wade was denied----Hardball Talk Story.

The incident was two years ago and was only now settled, so considering the amount of money remaining on K-Rod's contract and that he's only guaranteed next season with the Mets, I cannot imagine the Mets winning such a grievance, but the Chacon ruling makes it interesting because the situation is somewhat similar in everything aside from star status and money.

Listen to the Red State Blue State podcast appearance. Click here for the RSBS blog and here to hear it directly.

I'm scheduled to be on with Sal at SportsFan Buzz tomorrow. High noon.

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Jeff said...

MLB's union is too much of a bully. It needs to stop.

K-Rod embarrassed himself, the franchise and baseball as a whole. In my opinion, such actions should call for no money.

If I punch someone at my job and get arrested I get fired, union or not.

Baseball's union needs to get a grip and set down some moral guidelines that its members should be expected to follow.

She-Fan said...

I agree with Jeff. Yesterday I said the Mets should get really angry and with the contract thing they did. I applaud them and hope they can work out a satisfactory settlement with the union.

Brooklyn Trolley Blogger said...

Today, unions protect screw ups. They no longer hold themselves to standards. Standards don't pay dues. If you want to break the union grip on the game, owners need to stay away from long term contracts. The closer they get to the days of one year contracts, the less centralized power the union will have. Don't go totally off on the Union. They've had owners who think more as individuals than a league and can't all agree if a baseball is round. When you put the Goonies on the other side of the bargaining table with the Baseball Union...what you get is an obscene control of power by the players within the owners enterprise. NFL players wish they had what MLB players have. MLB owners wish they had what the NFL owners have. These two leagues will be speeding past each other in the night when both their CBA agreements come due.