Author Archive

The Upcoming CBA: An International Draft

If you’ve been following the sports scene (and that means all the Big-4 sports, as in the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB), you’ll know that the winds of war have been howling across two of them (the NFL and NBA). The NHL has recently extended their labor agreement until next year, which leaves us with MLB. And, unless there is a dramatic shift, labor peace should continue within baseball, albeit with one or two rumblings.

Still, it’s not as if the status quo will be coming along in December when the current CBA expires, so don’t go looking for an extension. In fact, there may be some of the more dramatic changes to the next Basic Agreement in MLB than we’ve seen in over a decade. Since there’s much to chew on, better to roll the topics out one-by-one in smaller doses. Knowing the FanGraphs fan base, better to have discussion center on one topic as opposed to some multi-threaded conversation.

So, for the first installment on the upcoming CBA and the battles within it, let’s go with something that’s been hanging around for a bit… A world-wide Draft.

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How MLB Became the Example of Peacemakers

These are crazy times, folks…. Crazy times. A social networking idea is now worth $50 billion, gas prices could hit $5 a gallon by 2012, and MLB is the poster child for labor peace.

That’s right, the folks that brought you the 1994-95 work stoppage – the one that very nearly killed baseball – is now what other leagues should aspire to. Next thing you know, Sarah Palin and Ralph Nader will be running together on the next presidential ticket.

Here’s what we’ve come to: The National Football League, who pulled in revenues of $9.3 billion last year, and just saw Super Bowl XLV become the most watched television event in U.S. history with a staggering audience of 162.9 million viewers is about the lockout the players on March 4 the day after their current CBA expires. Their contention? Players got a better deal than they should have when the late Gene Upshaw was at the helm of the players and Paul Taglibue was headed out the door as commissioner of the NFL. Now, owners like Jerry Jones of the Cowboys, Robert Kraft of the Patriots, and Jerry Richardson of the Panthers want concessions from the players – $1 billion’s worth, due to what they are saying is “cash flow problems”. The NFLPA has asked for the league to open their books, to which the league has said, ”That’s none of your business.”

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Salary Arbitration Mumbo Jumbo

While you weren’t looking, the salary arbitration season has shifted into its final phase. From the 1st (yesterday) until Feb 18, hearings commence in the process that has been in place since 1974. By then, the final 18 players that have yet to reach agreements will have done so through negotiations with their clubs, or through the hearing process where a player’s asking salary and the club’s offering salary are picked – there is no middle ground (see this salary arbitration figure tracker for details). For the uninitiated, here’s how the process works:

A player with three or more years of service, but less than six years, may file for salary arbitration. Free agents can also be offered salary arbitration, which they can accept, or decline and opt for free agency. Of the 34 free agents in Major League Baseball that were offered salary arbitration this year, just two players, then Texas Ranger and now Toronto Blue Jay RHP Frank Francisco and Toronto Blue Jays reliever Jason Frasor accepted the offers from their clubs (here’s a listing of every free agent that accepted salary arbitration and exchanged figures over the last 20 years).

In addition, a player can be classified as a “Super Two” and be eligible for arbitration with less than three years of service. This may read like a stereo manual, but here’s how the Super 2 is defined: A player with at least two but less than three years of Major League service shall be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 17 percent in total service in the class of Players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season.

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Show Me the $! End-of-Year Payrolls

On some level, it’s simple to say that each of the Big-4 sports in Northern America are different. Baseball doesn’t have a clock; the NHL uses a puck; the NBA uses a hoop; the NFL has downs.

Yes, I’m being over simplistic here, but on the salary side, the distance between MLB and its other Big-4 brethren diverge further still.

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MLB Free Agency Dollars to Date

I had hoped to report out on MLB’s end-of-year player payrolls for 2010 (here’s last year’s), but the numbers haven’t been released yet. Instead, here are the free agency dollars spent to date this off-season, which includes total dollars as well as salary for 2010

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Making Postseason $ When Missing The Playoffs

If you wonder why expanded playoffs won’t be coming until 2012, this explains a small part of it.

Yesterday, the league announced World Series shares for the 2010 postseason – an extra bonus for the players that make the postseason (for those wondering a full share for the Giants was $317,631.29 while the Rangers got $246,279.55 for winning the ALCS). But, it’s not just those that make the postseason that earn some extra green. Here’s how postseason shares are currently defined:

The players’ pool, formed from 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first three games of the Division Series and 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first four games of the League Championship series and the World Series, was divided among 12 clubs: the World Series participants, the League Championship Series and Division Series runners-up, and the four regular season second-place clubs that were not Wild Card participants.

That’s right. Those that came close to making the postseason, but not quite, get postseason bonuses even when they don’t make the postseason. So, this year the White Sox, Padres, A’s, and Cardinals were the beneficiaries. Here’s the breakdown:

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Inside Salary Arbitration

NOTE: There was an error in the salary arbitration details around Sean Marshall and Carlos Villanueva as it pertains to settlement contracts in advance of salary arbitration (some of the figures were flipped). That has now been corrected. — Maury Brown

Before Curt Flood’s landmark case, and before Messersmith and McNally held out in a contract year, thus allowing for the reserve clause to be challenged and overturned, Marvin Miller and the MLBPA got the players salary arbitration. What was initially seen as a win by the owners – the thwarting of free agency – was a huge win for players.

Since 1973 the process has been in place, and since that time it’s been largely misunderstood. The process is based largely on three factors:

  • Major League Service Time;
  • Comparable statistics with like players by position, and;
  • Comparable salaries with like players by position;

Along the way, MLB’s calendar ticks away with deadlines for certain milestones to be met – when players and clubs exchange figures; when all players in the process have settled on contracts or had hearings, etc.

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Will Steinbrenner Beat Out Miller for HOF

If there’s a topic that brings up a vocal debate among those that follow baseball outside the lines, the Hall of Fame voting results each year rates right up there with the best of them. In terms of looking at the Veterans Committee vote, and specifically the absence of Marvin Miller from the Hall, the question comes down to either, “How can you not have Miller in the Hall of Fame?”, or “Miller’s impact is not as great as it’s often portrayed.”

Indeed, the man that was instrumental in pulling the players together, bringing out a cohesive unionized force to be reckoned with, has done nothing more than bring salary arbitration, free agency, and many would say, labor strife, to the history of Major League Baseball. He led the MLBPA from 1966 to 1982 and is still talked of in his relationship to those that have followed, namely Don Fehr, and now Michael Weiner.
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A Primer on the Baseball Winter Meetings

Poll a hundred baseball fans on what the Baseball Winter Meetings are all about, and you’re likely to get a hundred different answers. Most are likely to say that it’s where trades or signings take place, but after that, it gets vague.”Am I allowed to go?” “Is it in the same location?” “Is it free?” “What else goes on besides MLB’s doings?”

Here’s a primer.

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At Game 1 of the World Series: Overflow Media

If you think that there’s a pecking order for media in postseason, well, you’d be right. The BBWAA directs the process with writers that covers clubs daily getting a place, with outlets that have daily writers for the two clubs that are playing getting more slots.

So, where does everyone else go?

For AT&T Park, overflow media is parked far away from the comforts of the regular pressbox perched above home plate.

You’ll see us… We’re the green set of seats at the very top of the 300 level just off the third baseline from the foul pole. Who’s sitting here? Well, I’m parked next to ESPN’s Jim Caple and just to his left,’s Jon Heyman is taking it all in. To my right,’s Jesse Sanchez is just now Tweeting away. A few rows even higher than I, Steve Phillips is perched.

We’re all exposed to the elements…. Now, it’s San Francisco and a balmy 62 at game time, but there’s clouds… every once in a while I keep thinking I feel a sprinkle. No one is griping, for heaven sake… it’s the World Series. But, it shows that for the writers, it is work. Even if it’s covering a kid’s game.