Thursday, September 30, 2010


  • We could be witnessing history:

Since Curt Flood's decision to openly challenge baseball's reserve clause, the players have won every major battle with the owners. Despite Flood losing his battle, the massive guaranteed contracts players receive today is a direct result of Flood's actions. In 1975 both Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally----having played the 1975 seasons with unsigned contracts----were declared free agents. (You can read about McNally and Messersmith here.)

This was after Catfish Hunter was essentially the first free agent in that his contract had been voided following the 1974 season and he signed a humongous (at the time) contract with the Yankees worth a guaranteed $3.5 million.

The owners' collective ships were leaking and there was little they could do to stop it. In the subsequent years, they tried various schemes to keep salaries down from caps to collusion to revenue sharing to using stats to assess a true "value" on players; but there's always that one stupid or desperate owner to toss money at the player for whom a massive contract wasn't forthcoming from another club.

We've seen it with the Mets bidding against themselves for Oliver Perez; the Giants desperately tossing a load of money at Aaron Rowand; and the Yankees with A.J. Burnett. There are a multitude of players who are overpaid based on having their career year at the right time or the clubs deciding that they had to do something drastic.

The owners' shortsightedness has been unitary as well; the decision to use replacement players in 1995 after the 1994 lockout was reminiscent of the NFL owners using replacement players in 1987. The NFL union----and any other union for that matter----is not, nor will it ever be as powerful and unified as the MLB Players Association.

It seems that the players always win.


But that could be changing. It could be changing starting today.

Francisco Rodriguez vs the Mets may wind up being that case that gives some of the power in the relationship back to the owners. It's not a power that would preclude players from getting their massive paychecks and long-term contracts, but it would give the employer some semblance of control over whether or not they have to pay a player whose behavior in any other sector would void his contract.

Originally scoffed at, Rodriguez's actions are so egregious that he could possibly have endangered the sanctity and safety of a contract for everyone----a safety in which the players could do nearly anything and still get their money.

The first meeting between the union and MLB lawyers regarding the Mets attempt to "unguarantee" Rodriguez's contract will take place today----ESPN Story via AP----and, as a layman, I'd say the Mets are going to have a legitimate chance to win. If you look at the list of transgressions the Mets can check off in presenting their case, they've got a serious amount of ammunition to "fire" Rodriguez.

Rodriguez committed a misdemeanor assault on his common-law father-in-law by repeatedly punching him in the face in the team family room; he did this in front of women and children .

He tore a ligament in his thumb during the altercation and admitted as such.

He sent text messages to his common-law wife, violated a restraining order, and was again arrested on charges of contempt of court.

The Mets were under .500 at the time, but stood 9.5 games out of first place in the NL East; and 8 games back in the Wild Card. It would've been an unlikely event for them to suddenly storm back into legitimate contention, but Rodriguez's absence ruined any chance of that with his injury.

Every contract has a "morals" clause, but they're rarely exercised and when a team tries to do so, they generally lose. We saw it with Latrell Sprewell choking his coach P.J. Carlesimo in the NBA; we even saw it with the Mets trying to "fire" Vince Coleman in 1993.

The players got their money and even wound up in better situations than the ones they were with their former clubs.

But eventually, a player is going to commit an act so repugnant----an act that so negatively affects his team on and off the field----that the club is going to win their case.

Is it realistic to think the Mets are going to be able to get out from under the Rodriguez contract? The contract guarantees the pitcher $15 million through 2011, plus the $3,142,076 million from when he got injured that they don't want to pay. Then there's the $17.5 million option for 2012 that's based on appearances and health----he was going to reach the incentives unless some catastrophic injury occurred.

Considering the owners' history of losing to the union since Curt Flood, no one believes the Mets have a chance of winning; but what do they have to lose really? Worst case scenario, they'll have to pay Rodriguez what they'd already agreed to pay him to begin with. If they truly want to be rid of him, they can try to trade him (good luck); or they can keep his appearances under the required number to guarantee the 2012 contract. This depends on whether they're in contention or not in 2011; if they are, my guess is they'll bite the bullet and use Rodriguez to try and win; if he's pitching well and behaves, what's the difference?

In the best case scenario, as the linked story says, they'll get rid of Rodriguez by cutting him in the spring, have money to spend for other players and every MLB owner will owe the Mets a debt of gratitude for drawing a line and saying "enough's enough" with players having the freedom to act any way they please safe in the cocoon of their contracts.

I honestly believe the Mets have a shot to win this.

Then all hell is gonna break loose.

  • Viewer Mail 9.30.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE the Red Sox:

No, the Red Sox certainly didn't need offense, so I don't know what Joe Morgan was talking about. The fact that they hung around as long as they did, given their injuries, is a testament to their offense. And while Lackey wasn't as lights out as expected, Buchholz really stepped up.

Joe Morgan says about 30 things about the same subject----all new, all different----so by process of elimination, he'll be right once in a while. It's the "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" school of thought. Unfortunately for him, people remember some of the things he says, which eliminates his veneer of "expertise".

Gabriel (Capo) writes RE the Red Sox:

I find it amusing that, given the focus of the season for Boston was "pitching and defense", the pitching faltered. I wonder if they're engineering offers for Lee...

I said all along that the "pitching-and-defense" thing was a cover for what they really wanted to do----get rid of Jason Bay because they didn't want to pay him; sign Mike Cameron because he's a stat zombie's dream player (for whatever reason)----but the pitching-and-defense template wasn't why the Red Sox are missing the playoffs.

I think they're stealthily stalking Lee (and this is my own speculation) because: A) they'd like some payback on the Yankees for swiping Mark Teixeira from them; and B) the rotation would be devastating if they added Lee.

Anonymous writes RE the Red Sox:

Yes, it's me, the real "Annonymous". Anyhow, I'm here to let you know that your analysis is missing some details:

The offense was affected. Look at the runs per game from April through July, then compare it to the runs per game in August and September (when they started to fade). I'm pretty sure there was a big decrease. And when you were losing as many 1-2 run games at the Red Sox were, that could mean many wins in the standings.

Or really, just look at these OBP's (I won't list some very awful SLG from various players - in the name of space):

Lowell - .295
Kalish - .300
Patterson - .309
Reddick - .228
Navarro - .189

I was reading someone yesterday that showed what an eye-pooping amount of 1-2 run games the Red Sox played in. Like I said, the offense became an issue.

The other issue that everyone forgets is that they never got the defense part of "pitching and defense". Which, in turn, affects the pitching. A healthy Red Sox team would have had an excellent defense (minus let's say catcher), where this banged-up Red Sox team was very poor defensively. How many extra pitches did they have to throw? Or how many extra outs did the Lackeys and the Beckett's or the bullpen have to get?

The biggest things, for me, were the injuries and that god-awful bullpen. And in regards to the bullpen, when do we start looking at the pitching coach? Was there one guy, except Bard, who you would say had a good to great year? Everyone seemed worse than their career norms. But, like I said, some small percentage of that came from that poor defense.

I've had enough of this "anonymous" garbage. Leave a name. Even if it's "Red Sox fan in blah" or "Chronic Masturbator in Sweden" (AKA Mr. Foer--the baseball-ignorant clown who takes offense when I point out the fact that he's in so far over his head debating baseball with me that my abusing him has begun to bore even me).

I'm not publishing any more anonymous comments regardless of content.

As far as the comment, it's an excellent point.

How much did the injuries to Cameron, Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia affect the results of the pitching staff? I'm not checking to that degree, but it's safe to assume having Bill Hall and Jeremy Hermida playing a significant number of games in lieu of the regulars did have an influence on the defense. Their defense was compromised; it had to have been.

The posting about Joe Morgan wasn't about the Red Sox, per se; it was about his assertion that they should've done something drastic to bolster the offense. Apart from gutting the system for Prince Fielder, what could they have done? Nothing.

Jeff (Street Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE Jon Miller:

Thanks for reiterating what I thought to be true in regards to Jon Miller's call of that Cano non-HR.

I used to like Miller, but he's going down the same path so many other broadcasters have gone: HACK Alley. Whatever happened to just calling it as you see it? The pre-written lines, the gimmicks (John Sterling), all that... enough.

Ernie and Jack are rolling over in their graves hearing this crap.

It's more about supposed personality than broadcasting skills. One has to wonder whether Miller has been told by ESPN to jazz up his performance and that's the only way he knows how to do it; before he took over as ESPN's play-by-play man and jumped the shark, I remember Miller being a very good broadcaster.

What makes it worse with Jack Buck is that his own fame is directly responsible for Joe Buck being as prominent as he is; as I've said before, if Joe Buck was "Joe Smith", he'd be working for the WWE.

Anonymous writes RE Ichiro Suzuki:

Can you keep your responses to me down to 10,000 words or less? [insert smiley face].

To clarify:

No, I do not believe Ichiro meant that he'd literally hit .220 if he tried to hit 40 homers. Hitting 40 HR's is tough for most baseball players, so I'm not sure if he'd ever achieve those numbers. But, I do believe that quote represents the point I've been trying to make all along: YOU -- meaning you the baseball blogger, I'm not sure how much clearer I can get -- need to show us how Ichiro's game would be affected by trying to hit more HR's than he hits now.

You seem to think that he can pick a situation or two (e.g. 2-0 count with nobody out) and "swing for the downs". Therefore, a situation here, a situation there, and whoola! we've got the same Ichiro but with 25-30 homers.

Are you saying it's as simple as that for Ichiro?

How do you even know that he doesn't do this currently? Explain to me Ichiro's current approach now. You know, with actual quotes or actual data to back it up. Not a straw-man argument: "On 2-0 he should do this! But he only goes for singles!".

In regards to Mike Jacobs, remember, it was you that used Ichiro's quote in your favor. You felt that because Ichiro said he could hit 40 HR's (with it affecting the rest of his game), it was proof in your mind that he could hit 25-30 HR's. And since you still haven't, to this day, given an ANALYSIS on how trying to hit 25-30 HR's would affect the rest of his game, I in turn did the same thing as you - used the quote in my favor? See, as a joke, I did the same thing as you. Do you get that? And since the quote mentioned .220 as his average, in turn, the OBP would be less than .300 (because its not like Ichiro walks 100 times a year).

Again, just do some type of analysis, with any types of facts. That's it, that's all I ask. This writing is just shooting from the hip assumption making.

You consider it to be "shooting from the hip assumption making" because you disagree with me----no other reason. You don't like what I'm saying; that I'm refusing to acquiesce to your argument, so you're saying it's a "straw man".

Ichiro's results on favorable counts clearly indicate that he doesn't give the pitcher a chance to fall behind because he swings so early in the count; and when he does, he prefers to hit singles----career numbers corresponding to pitch counts.

Looking at this year alone, he rarely even gets to a favorable count; when he does, he predominately hits singles. Pitchers don't fall behind Ichiro, I think, because he's always ready to hack; and they're not afraid to pitch to him because he doesn't hit for power. Why not pitch to him? Then if you add in the fact that for much of this season there was no one behind him to drive him in, let him get on base, who cares? He's not scoring anyway.

His increase in power by hitting more homers would raise his value because he'd be batting in the middle of the lineup; driving in more runs; seeing more pitches because the pitchers would be more cautious with him; this would lead to more walks and a negligible change in his OBP----maybe even an increase.

The Chronic Masturbator in Sweden actually linked a useful article comparing Ichiro to Rod Carew----link.

Rod Carew, in his prime, batted in the middle of the lineup. Ichiro doesn't. Carew's on base percentage and corresponding OPS dwarfs Ichiro's. I'd take Carew any day over Ichiro.

The assertions in the article of infield hits vs outfield hits are irrelevant to me. The line drive percentage comparison to that of Albert Pujols is more of a reason for Ichiro to try and lift the ball out of the park; his coordination is such that he has the ability to do it! He doesn't get into favorable counts; he doesn't try to hit the ball out of the park because it deprives him of his precious hit records.

And lose the attitude. You've yet to come to a defense for what it is Ichiro does do help the team. All you're doing is attacking me without any basis aside from trying----and failing----to toss my words back and me and get me to give; it's not happening.

Max Stevens at The Lonely One writes RE the Chronic Masturbator in Sweden:

Anybody who refers to you as "kiddo" and uses emoticons, like some 12-yr-old girl, is not worth your time. Most of the feedback you get here is thoughtful and well articulated, but this Mr. Foer, or whatever its name is, is just a bottom feeder. As is the case with most dumb people, he's so damn dumb that he doesn't even realize how damn dumb he sounds.

He can comment if he wants; he's rapidly becoming my "number 1 fan" like Annie Wilkes in Stephen King's Misery. Let him make a fool of himself. He's reading me and trying desperately trying to get my attention because he's unable to formulate a cogent argument to rebut me, so he's resorting to this.

My book is still available on Amazon, I-Universe and Barnes and It's available for download as an E-book here. You can also now get it for less that five bucks on BN via download here.


PairFace said...

Hey Paul - Just checking in, because I said I would. I wanted to see who's side of the debate prevailed - yours or mine - when it came to the NL East. You had your Mets winning, and my "arrogant" Phillies finishing 3rd. Furthermore, you also had Reyes winning the NL MVP and Jerry Manuel winning NL MoY. Ooooof!!!

Normally, I don't rip pre-season predictions, because everyone's is off by varying degrees. But the way you dismissed my reasoning (feel free to re-read those exchanges from March/April) and the way you SAVAGED Ruben Amaro for his handling of the personnel, well, I hate to tell you I told you so, but...

I think at the very least, you owe Amaro some props for the job he did. I thought he overpaid on some of those contracts, especially Howard. But as it turns out, those contracts gave some cost certainty to the Phils' ownership group, and allowed Amaro to go out and get Roy Oswalt at the deadline. Now the Phils have, without question, the top starting 3 in all of baseball with Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels (btw, remember calling Hamels the next Steve Avery??? LOL!). All 3 are under club control next year, and possibly 2012 if the club picks up Oswalt's option.

You went on and on about what a mistake it was to trade "Stone Cold Assassin" Cliff Lee away. But let's face it, Lee has been a disappointment in Texas. He may turn it on in the playoffs. But when the Phils traded him, it wasn't just a move to re-stock the farm, it was also a vote of confidence in Hamels, who responded with a very good season, and a GREAT 2nd half.

As for the Mets - you've probably already said everything that needs to be said, so I don't need to add a whole lot. The Krod fiasco is just another symptom of the disease that is the Mets' organization. They are just not going to win under the Wilpons, because they don't appear to know what they are doing. They have some nice prospects in the system. But the core of the team just did not develop as planned. They'll make a half-hearted run at Cliff Lee this winter, and then will tell their fanbase "we tried" when Lee signs with the Yankees.

BTW - I don't think that Cards-White Sox WS is going to happen. Have a good day.

Jeff said...

K-Rod's actions were uncalled for. If I did that at my job, I'd be sitting in prison right now.

I understand that the Union is there to protect the players, but how does guaranteeing a massive contract to a massive asshole who royally screwed up protect the player? Where is the protection for the employer? For the victims?

The MLB Union is too strong and its message is clear: we can do whatever we feel like.

It's gotta end. Soon.

Matt said...

"...but it would give the employer some semblance of control over whether or not they have to pay a player whose behavior in any other sector would void his contract."

Any other sector except maybe financial. If K-Rod were an investment banker he would have had to at least kill his father-in-law on the boardroom table to void his golden parachute. Even then...