Effectively Wild Episode 1640: Ethically Speaking

Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley break down the six-player blockbuster trade headlined by Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco, touching on Cleveland’s decision to cut costs by dealing two fan favorites and the face of the franchise, how much better Lindor makes the Mets, and more, then banter about NPB ace Tomoyuki Sugano re-signing with the Yomiuri Giants and the latest revelations about the use of foreign substances by MLB pitchers, before bringing on philosophy professors (and Effectively Wild listeners) Justin Coates and Ben Lennertz (53:49) to tackle the ethics of Hall of Fame voting and examine how philosophy can guide voters, the merits of the character clause, how to handle cheaters, the problems of past precedent and differing off-field offenses, and how they would vote.

Audio intro: Margo Price, "Do Right By Me"
Audio interstitial: Paul McCartney and Wings, "Get on the Right Thing"
Audio outro: The Magnetic Fields, "’86 How I Failed Ethics"

Link to Ben on the Lindor deal
Link to Rob Mains on Lindor and Cleveland
Link to story on Steve Cohen
Link to Kyodo News story on Sugano
Link to Jim Allen on Sugano
Link to Harkins foreign substance story
Link to Ben on foreign substances
Link to EW interview about foreign substances
Link to Ken Rosenthal’s Hall of Fame ballot
Link to story about Schilling’s latest comments
Link to EW interview with Jay Jaffe
Link to Craig Calcaterra on the Hall of Fame

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3 years ago

You ask how Cleveland can decide that they can’t pay Lindor $20M. That’s not the issue. The issue is whether they can pay him >$32-35M/year for probably 10 years. If they can’t, they have to maximize their return.

“Why wouldn’t the move be to extend him?” asked Meg.

We know that Cleveland said they couldn’t go to $300M. That’s the issue here. It’s not about one year’s payroll cost at 20m, and whether or not Lindor is worth $20M is a short term question because he won’t sign for anywhere near that amount. There’s no way to know for sure but I’m sure Cleveland would have tripped on themselves to sign him for 10 years and $200M (and Lindor would be selling himself short to take that deal). But in this environment, without knowing the realities of the next labor deal nor the economic picture going forward, it’s easy to understand how a small market owner can’t commit to a guaranteed $300M-plus obligation no matter how good the player is. (I don’t like it for baseball, to be sure, but it is easy to understand.)

Baseball is a regional game and economists are writing a lot about how the middle of the country is hurting far worse than either coast… Jayson Stark wrote an interesting article about how the AL and NL Central front office strategies have diverged from the coastal divisions in each league… the reality is that teams in the Central have a much, much, much smaller margin of error and are going to find it harder to commit to long term deals at high AAV’s.

3 years ago
Reply to  tomerafan

Excellent points on Lindor and the Cleveland’s predicament. My recollection is that they did offer Lindor an extension two years ago, but they could not agree on terms. Clearly, Cleveland was not going to resign him after this year, so they were faced with the choice of keeping him for one year and losing him for only a draft pick, or trying to get young players for him now. I was not thrilled with the return, but at least they will get two starting middle infielders and two young recent draft picks.
The teams currently face great uncertainty in terms of fan attendance in 2021, possible declining TV revenues, and an expiring CBA this year. Cleveland has managed to remain competitive with 8 consecutive winning seasons by constantly churning their roster, similar to Oakland and Tampa Bay. Maybe we should give them credit for at least maintaining a winning team for so long.