Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Archive for August, 2010

The best “5-tool” player of all time? (updated)

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http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/majors/news/2011/2612208.html

http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/majors/best-tools/2011/2612185.html

The 400 homer/10 gold glove club question (see post on August 10th 2010 here) spurred a different question into my mind.  Who is baseball’s greatest 5-tool player?  For those of you who don’t know what the 5 tools are:

  • Speed; indicated by stolen bases statistically.
  • Fielding/Defense: indicated by gold gloves somewhat, even though the Gold Glove voting process is known to be bad.
  • Arm: no real statistical measure, just rumors and observations.
  • Hitting for average: career batting average
  • Hitting for power: career homers

My dad and I were talking about this same question and he says the answer is Willie Mays.  And I have a hard time disagreeing with him.   He was fast (338 career SBs), he was a fantastic center fielder (12 straight gold gloves), he was known to have a cannon for an arm, he hit a career .302 with 3283 hits and belted 660 homers.

Who else might be in the conversation?  Lets take a look at some of the candidates:

  • Barry Bonds: Career batting .298, 762 homers, 2935 hits and 514 steals.  8 gold gloves, ending a streak suddenly in 1999.  Which is also probably when he started juicing (his homers per season jumped from 34 to 49 to 73 in 1999-2001).   The only thing Mays had on Bonds was his arm.  Bonds always played left field, where you can “hide” poorer outfielders who don’t necessarily need the range of a center fielder or the cannon arm of a right fielder (to prevent first to third base runners).  But Bonds had significantly more steals and homers (whether or not you discount them).
  • Ken Griffey Jr.: Definitely up there in the argument.  Clearly he was fantastic defensively (10 straight gold gloves) and had a great arm.  Great power (630 career homers).  Only 184 career steals and a lifetime .284 BA with 2781 hits dings him in comparison to Mays.

Here’s some names that have multiple of the tools, but are missing one or two key ones:

  • Babe Ruth: Great power and average combo, he obviously had a good arm starting as a pitcher, but he had zero speed and ate himself so large that he could barely play the outfield.
  • Ted Williams is always an interesting test case for the What could have been? question.  He hit .344 with 521 homers and a really good argument that had he not lost 3 full seasons in his absolute prime to WWII (plus most of two others to Korea in his mid 30s) that he’d be closer to 700 homers for his career.  But he was known to be a defensive liability and had only 24 sbs for his career.
  • Mickey Mantle: famously said that “if 40/40 was so impressive, i’d have done it every year.”  And its hard not to doubt him.  Playing in a time when there wasn’t much of a need for him to steal bases, he still ended up with 153 on the career and routinely had 15-20 each season.  He retired with 500+ homers, a career ba of .298, a legendary reputation for roaming centerfield in Yankee stadium and an even more legendary reputation for drinking himself out of baseball prematurely at the age of 36.
  • Joe DiMaggio: one of the best pure hitters of the 20th century.  Career .325 BA, 361 homers.  Lost 3 years in his absolute prime to the WWII and retired incredibly early at 36.  Played a great centerfield (his time predates gold gloves).  but very very few stolen bases.
  • Stan Musial: one of the “lost players” of the 20th century, in that it is easy to forget his name when talking of the all time greats.  3600 career hits, 475 homers, career .331 BA.  Great hitter.  Played center field for 20-some years for St. Louis.  But as with DiMaggio, very few SBs.
  • Bobby Bonds: nearly a 40/40 man one year but strikeout rate is so excessive.

How about some more modern players?

  • Paul Molitor another guy to think about.  504 career SBs, .306 BA, only 234 homers but not much on the defensive side, having been mostly a DH for the last half of his career.
  • Alfonso Soriano: his 40/40 season was legendary (there was preliminary talk of him doing a 50/50 season, which hasn’t even been approached), and he’s currently got 309 career homers and 271 career SBs.  A scatter brained hitter though,  defense so bad that he’s barely holding on in left field, and zero arm.
  • Jose Canseco: another 40/40 guy.  462 career homers and 200 career Sbs.  .266  hitter though.  Good arm in right but never a good fielder (remember the infamous ball bouncing off his head over the fence for a homer?).
  • Vladimir Guerrero: another near 40/40 guy.
  • Carlos Beltran: injuries have just killed him; a former speed/power hitter and one of the first mega contract guys.
  • Brady Anderson: most people regard his 50 homer season either a fluke or (more likely) the result of early PEDs.  But the fact remains that only he and Barry Bonds have ever put up seasons which had both 50 homers and 50 sbs.
  • Craig Biggio: 414 sbs, 291 homers, .281 career BA, 4 gold gloves at 2nd base.   2nd baseman though, presumably b/c he never had the arm for Short.
  • Rickey Henderson: obviously fast as the career leader in SBs.  .279 career BA.  He twice hit 28 homers while leading the league in SBs.  One gold glove and two silver sluggers, and a liability as a left fielder.  Maybe not.

here’s a couple “what if” guys, as in what if they hadn’t been injured or otherwise sullied their careers:

  • Bo Jackson: A hip injury picked up while playing his hobby football ended his career basically at the age of 28.  But he was electric.  Who can forget his legendary all star homer, a bomb to dead center that went 448 feet.  Bo never won a gold glove but he played a premium defensive position in Center and certainly had the arm to play right.  He just missed a series of 30/30 seasons, maxing out with 32 homers and 27 steals).  He did not hit for average though, not at all.  Best full season BA was a paltry .272.
  • Josh Hamilton: After well documented troubles with drugs and the law, this former 1-1 draft pick currently is leading the Majors in batting average (.356), has 26 homers, and plays a very very good center field.  He could hit 96 on the gun in high school.  His failing is SBs; only a handful on the year.  But in a league that so often chews up and spits out flash in the pan players, it is refreshing to see Hamilton succeed.  Visual Baseball though discounts both his speed and his range.
  • Daryl Strawberry: had a 39 homer, 36 sb year.
  • Eric Davis: career year in 1987, hitting 37 homers and stealing 50 sbs.

In January 2010, Visual Baseball introduced some really neat visualizations that graphically show each player’s strengths and weaknesses.  I’d love to see a tool that allows people to plug in individual players, but in their analysis two 2010 players popped up as being very close to the perfect 5-tool player:

  • Ben Zobrist: based on his 2009 stats he hit for average (.297) and power (27 homers).  He had 17 steals.  He showed pretty amazing flexibility by playing every outfield position besides pitcher and catcher at some point.  Unfortunately, he’s take a pretty significant step backwards in 2010, sligging nearly 200 points less.  Odd.
  • Carl Crawford: He’s already lead the league 4 times in SBs and has been hitting an average of 13-15 homers a season.  Not nearly Mays-esque stancards but very solid.  .305 Batting average with healthy slugging percentages.  Left fielder though, but his Visual Baseball graph shows significant range and arm.

And finally, something to think about:

  • Alex Rodriguez: 600 career homers, .303 career BA.  300 career steals, a couple of Gold Gloves, and a pretty good arm while playing short.  Posted probably the best ever 40/40 season in 1998 (42 homers, 46 sbs).  Too bad he had to go and juice it up so that his career is forever sullied.

In the end, I’d have to still put Mays, with a shameful shrug of the shoulders when considering both Bonds and Alex Rodriguez.

My dad and I were talking about this same question and he says the answer is Willie Mays.  And I have a hard time

9/1 Nats Callups?

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Who do you think the Nats call up 9/1?  We’re at 40/40 right now on the 40-man roster, but could move Willingham and Strasburg to the 60-day DL to make room for a couple more people.  Here’s what I think happens:

SPs: Maya gets the callup, perhaps not on 9/1 but soon enough to start getting some starts.

RPs: Balester and Severino get callbacks.  No 40-man moves required, gives a couple more arms to help out in a tired bullpen

C: Ramos gets called back up to spell Nieves here and there and get some more work at the MLB level.

That’s it.  I don’t see an obvious candidate to add to the 40-man to bring up.  There is talk of Espinosa coming up but he’s a better candidate to go to the AFL and spend more time in AAA learning how to become Desmond‘s double play combination.  DC-local favorite Josh Wilkie has had a great year as a AAA reliever but there might not be enough work for him in a 9 or 10-man bullpen.

The race for the 2011 Draft pick; 8/30/10 update

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Or, as I’d like to call it, the Anthony Rendon 2011 sweepstakes (click here for his 2010 stats when he won the NCAA player of the year).

2011 draft orderUpdated 8/30/10

1: Pittsburgh   43-87   .331 8/30 a weekend sweep puts them 5 games “ahead” in the draft positioning.
2: Baltimore    48-83   .366
3. Seattle      51-79   .392
4. Arizona      52-79   .397 8/29 falls into 4th place w/ 2-game win streak
5. Cleveland    53-77   .408
6. Chi Cubs     55-76   .420
(6a will go to Arizona for failing to sign Barret Loux)
7. Kansas City  55-75   .423 8/29 jumps from 8th to 6th w/ 2 game losing streak
8. Washington   56-75   .427 8/30: falls to 8th with 3 wins in 4 versus StL
9. Houston      59-71   .454
(9a will go to San Diego for failing to sign Karsten Whitson)

Washington’s taking 3 of 4 versus the Cardinals has vaulted them from a tie for 6th into sole possession of 8th place.  Washington is turning into a victim of the late-season successes of there here-to-fore relatively awful starters Marquis and Lannan.  In Lannan’s last 5 starts he’s 4-1 with a 3.19 era and 1.129 whip.  In Marquis’s last two starts he’s 0-2 with a 1.46 era and 1.216 whip (unlucky loser both times really).

Written by Todd Boss

August 30th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Livan re-signed; great move to shore up 2011

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Over the weekend, the Nationals took the first post-Strasburg step towards shoring up the 2011 rotation by extending FA-to-be Livan Hernandez through 2011.  No published financial figures but various tweets and rumors put it at $1M base plus a ton of incentives.  If this is indeed the case then his deal is an absolute steal considering his performances this year.  He’s pitching at a 2.7 WAR, which is valued at $10.8M per season per fangraphs.

(Small tangent; click on the fangraphs.com link to see who our 3rd most valuable starter by WAR is; yes indeed its Craig Stammen, demoted to the bullpen despite having the 3rd best advanced stats of any of our starters.  Unfair to the poor guy.  Perhaps he’ll get his chance again in 2011).

Livan has been an integral reason why the Nats are not clamoring towards another 59-loss season, having come out of nowhere (i.e., a minor league contract in spring training) to lead the staff.  He’s given us 18 quality starts in 27 outings, pitched into the 7th inning 12 times, and is averaging6.5 innings a start.  the team is 14-13 in his starts (42-62 in everyone else’s starts).

Here’s how 2011 is now shaping up, with no FA pickups (and not considering any of our AA prospects)

  • Locks: Zimmermann, Marquis, LHernandez
  • Considered (in order): Maya, Lannan, Olsen, Detwiler, Wang
  • DL for 2011: Strasburg
  • Minors/relievers/Left out: Atilano, Martin, Chico, Mock, Martis, Thompson, Stammen

What really “caused” the Strasburg Injury?

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By now, we’ve all heard the news: Steven Strasburg is headed towards Tommy John surgery and won’t be back for 12-18 months, which probably puts him out for the entirety of the 2011 season.  Analysis and observation seem to show that the acute injury was the result of a singular injury, namely his 5th inning change up thrown to Domonic Brown which left him visibly shaking his right arm.

So, what really caused the issue?  Here’s some possibilities:

1. Over-protection by the team.  I have an awful hard time believing this.  Strasburg never went more than 100 pitches or 7 innings in any major or minor league start this season.  Does that mean he was more susceptible to a major arm injury?  I seriously doubt it.  There are those pundits who blame the Nats for NOT gaining an MRI of his shoulder during his 15-day DL stint, which is similarly ridiculous.  He had a shoulder injury not an elbow injury.  If he had blown out a groin would those same pundits be saying the team should have MRI’d his legs too?

2. A mechanical change: Some analysis that i’ve read (this post by Foxsport’s Jon Paul Morosi) has quotes from unnamed scouts that say his mechanics had changed slightly, which (Morosi intimated) may have resulted in stress on the elbow that had not been there before.  To test this, compare his Pitch F/X report from his MLB debut on June 8th to that fateful day in Philadelphia  last week. Comparing the release points in these two plots shows something interesting; his release point is indeed several inches higher on average in his last game versus his first.  Comparing The 6/8 video versus the 8/21 video isn’t really helpful; the former just shows every strikeout while the latter replays the fateful pitch where the injury occurred.  One would have to see the isolated feeds side by side to really see a difference.  However, a slight mechanical change could certainly be factor.

3. The “Inverted W” Effect: There some pundits out there on the net who believe that the “Inverted W” effect (where a pitcher’s pre-release arm positions resembles an upside-down W) indicates a proclivity of arm injuries.  The name most often associated with this (the poster boy, so to speak), is Mark Prior, who had supposedly clean mechanics, threw hard and was basically out of baseball by the time he was 25.  Writer Chris O’Leary has several examples plus an entire section on Strasburg, who does exhibit the behavior.

The problem I have with the inverted W theory is that you can cherry pick from the thousands of major league pitchers out there to prove or disprove this theory.  O’Leary himself uses John Smoltz as an example of someone who had the Inverted W, saying that Smoltz “… retired due to shoulder problems.”  Uh, Smoltz made over 700 HUNDRED starts, plus had 4 years as a closer, and made 32 starts the year he turned 40.  Thats about as BAD of an example as you can find to prove your theory.

Yes Strasburg exhibits the inverted W behavior, but not nearly as definitively as poster boys such as Prior or Reyes.  But he’s never had shoulder problems, and damage to the elbow seems to be indicative of something besides the W effect.

4. Scapular Loading: some googling about his injury turned up this interesing article at Drivelinebaseball.com.  In essence, Strasburg puts undue stress on his elbow based on “scapular loading” during his windup.  The article concludes that this behavior possibly contributed but isn’t necessarily the cause.  It is worth a read though.  I don’t know nearly enough about the subject to agree or disagree to heavily.

5. Strasburg was throwing FAR more change-ups than he’s used to.  In college, he was so dominant that he could be a 2-pitch pitcher (4-seamer and curve) and pitch his way to the player of the year award.  However, in the pros 3 pitches are required and 4 good pitches are desired.  Luckily, Strasburg possessed a 91-mph circle change that moved 10-12 inches on the horizontal plane, an absolutely ridiculous pitch.  Well, his catchers noticed this too, knowing that a screw-ball like 91 mph pitch had a better chance of getting hit by lightening than being hit hard, and started calling for it more and more.  For the season he threw that pitch 16.7% of the time (according to Fangraphs.com) but by the time the fateful Philadelphia game rolled around he was throwing it more like 20-21% of the time.

The circle change is a rather difficult pitch to master.  You essentially make a “circle” with your thumb and forefinger around the ball, then throw the ball with a fastball arm-action but letting it “tumble” off your remaining three fingers.  This causes the screw-ball like reverse movement on the ball when thrown with enough velocity.  It is a great pitch; not only does it come out of the hand slower (hence the changeup) but it moves unlike any of your other pitches.  The bad part of the pitch; it causes a ton of stress on the arm.  Your wrist and fingers are very strong and contribute to the natural fastball motion; by taking them out of play with the circle-change you use a lot more of your forearm and elbow to “throw” the pitch.

Conclusions: in the end, it is difficult to  know exactly what happened.  I personally believe the over-reliance on the circle change was his downfall, but the other points (mechanical changes, inverted-W tendencies and scapular loading) are difficult to discount.

In any case, Tommy John surgery is so common now amongst power pitchers that you start to hear rumblings about pitchers getting it done as a preventative measure (!!).  Jonah Keri had a great q&a session with the originator of the procedure and it makes for a great read.  So we’ll cross our fingers, hope that around this time next august Strasburg is pitching rehab sessions in the minors and is ready to go full strength in 2012.

Written by Todd Boss

August 29th, 2010 at 11:35 am

2011 Rotation impact

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Strasburg‘s injury will change the way the Nats approach the offseason and the 2011 rotation.  Instead of having Strasburg leading the rotation, I believe this injury will result in the exploration of the FA market, the resigning of Livan Hernandez sooner than later, and the end of the “injury test cases” for Rizzo and Lerner.

Here’s what I’ve got for 2011 right now:

  • Locks: Zimmermann, Marquis
  • Considered: Maya, Lannan, Olsen, Detwiler, Wang
  • FAs to be: Livan Hernandez
  • DL for 2011: Strasburg
  • Minors/relievers/Left out: Atilano, Martin, Chico, Mock, Martis, Thompson, Stammen

I think the rotation might be filled out exactly in the “considered” order, unless we resign Livan.  Right now I give Lannan the slight edge over Olsen and Detwiler based on past performances and pay.  I think Olsen is pitching his way off the team, and until Detwiler puts together 3 healthy starts he can’t be counted on.  I’m curious to see what Maya does during his call up and I think he’s a lock for the rotation next year.  Wang?  If he doesn’t show some progress why would we pay his freight next year?  IF we can get him in arbitration for a veteran minimum then he may be worth it.  $2M?  no way.

Atilano, Martin, Chico, Mock and Martis seem to be as close to your AAA rotation next year as can be.  Martin and Chico might be done; too old, too little production at the major league level, and in the way of AA promotion candidates like Peacock, Milone and the guys we got in the Guzman trade (Roark and Tatusko).

So, what does a rotation of Zimmermann, Marquis, Livan, Maya and Lannan get you in 2011?  70 wins?  more?  less?  Do we need to look into free agency?

Worst news for Strasburg

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Unbelievable.

I’m listening (well, I was until I heard the words “significant tear” and “ulnar ligament” in the same sentence) to csnwashington.com live stream of the Strasburg news conference.

How ironic is it that Strasburg needs this surgery the exact day that our previous high-end power pitching prospect Jordan Zimmermann returns from the same surgery?  He made it back in 13 months; Strasburg probably won’t feature for us until 2012 based on the timing of the injury (why bring him back to make one september start next year?)

Huge blow.  You have to think this pushes back the realistic “season that we’ll really be competitive” a whole year.  Do you think this event changes the Lerner’s minds about giving out huge bonuses to unproven talent?

Written by Todd Boss

August 27th, 2010 at 10:52 am

Zimmermann’s return to the rotation…

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An interesting day in the Nationals short franchise lifetime.  Lots of stuff went down yesterday: wunderkid Bryce Harper‘s introduction and BP show, Strasburg‘s career affecting arthrogram, the results of which (as we just have found out) probably means Tommy John surgery, and Jordan Zimmermann‘s first major league start since Tommy John surgery 13 months ago.

Lets talk about Zimmermann’s start.  A tough opposing team in the Cardinals didn’t help matters.  His final line wasn’t great.  4ip, 7 hits, 1 walk (the first batter he faced), one towering homer given up to this generation’s greatest hitter in Albert Pujols, and 5 earned runs.  70 pitches, 42 for strikes.  A bonanza of 9th inning scoring and 13th inning heroics earned the win for the team.

Zimmermann’s fastball was there for sure.  92-93 on the gun consistently, peaking at 94 a couple times per the Pitch f/x data.  Despite not giving up walks, he didn’t really have control of the fastball though.  His curve seemed waaaay too slow, floating in at 76mph for a delta from the fastball that I think is so distinct that hitters can adjust and swing strongly.  His strike zone map was all over the place.  Perhaps its rust, perhaps its more indicative that the AAA league (where he was absolutely dominant) is just not a good indicator of major league success.

Summary; its good to have him back, especially considering that he’s now just taken the reigns as next year’s rotational power pitcher for our team, and we hope that this is something he can build on.

Written by Todd Boss

August 27th, 2010 at 10:42 am

Marquis looks pretty good…

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Jason Marquis was an unlucky loser last night, getting tagged with the loss despite going 7 1/3 and only giving up one earned run (a run that was inherited and allowed to score by Tyler Clippard, who had one of his worse outings of the year).  In this one outing Marquis managed to lower his era from 11.39->8.79, lower his WHIP from 2.25 to 1.919, and increase his ERA+ from 36 to 47 on the year (see Nats baseball-reference team stats).

So, how did he look?  Actually, his pitching line rather flattered his performance early on.  He walked the leadoff hitter and went 3-2 on the 2nd hitter and was sitting at 15 pitches without recording an out.  His sinker was high, he was missing his spots by several feet, and was getting bailed out by the very generous strike zone from the home plate umpire Bob Davidson.  Marquis even added in a balk call (an obvious balk, i’m not sure why either he or Riggleman bothered to argue it).   Then to add insult to injury Zimmerman threw away a relatively easy grounder to put Marquis into a 1st and 2nd, no outs 1st inning jam. Marquis weaseled his way out of the jam more through luck and a very weak Cubs lineup.  But no damage was done.

Through the next couple innings he still struggled with his control, getting helped out by very high strikes on balls that better hitters would have clubbed.  On one such pitch he was even seen on camera to audibly curse despite getting a called strike (because it was a sinking fastball left belt-high over the plate).  However, by the 4th inning he was back in the groove.  Suddenly he had his sinking movement back, he was starting balls over the plate and having them end on the hitter’s hands, he was throwing his changeup for strikes, and he looked pretty dominant.

In the 8th, Marquis was sitting on about 90 pitches and faced a pinch hitter for opposing starter Ryan Dempster (in a rather shocking decision by the Cubs new manager Mike Quade, taking out Dempster at that point.  Game is 0-0, he’s at 79 pitches through 7 complete innings and had given up 2 hits.  why not let him go further?  Can’t disagree with the results though; Dempster’s PH gets on, scores and earns the win for the team)  In any case, Marquis walked the pinch hitter and within a few minutes immediately showed why leadoff walks hurt.  Clippard allows the guy to steal first pitch, then a mistake to the Cubs star rookie Castro results in a run scoring double.

7 1/3 innings with 4 hits and 3 walks (though honestly a couple of those walks were really “situational” in nature as Marquis pitched around Fukodome to get a double play situation).

As Kilgore‘s WP article suggests though, you can’t win if you don’t score.  Dunn in particular cannot strikeout looking three straight times in a game like this.  Yes the strike zone is wide, and yes a couple of those calls were borderline.  But after your first couple innings, when the zone is established and you know you’re getting a ball off the outside corner and an above-the-belt strike call over the heart of the plate, professional hitters have to adjust.  Dempster did, and Dunn did not.

Verdict on Marquis: pretty promising in terms of him returning to the form that earned him the 2yr $15M contract.  At this point in the season, frankly I’m rooting for two things:

  1. Starting pitcher progress building towards 2011.
  2. Losses to improve their draft position next year.

It seems odd but it is the truth.  A workable Marquis fits into any decent team as a #3/#4 starter, and performances like last night’s will make him look that much better in a rotation headed by Strasburg and Zimmermann.  We’re now 53-73 on the season, on pace for a 68-94 win season and last night’s loss has officially moved us into the 6th draft pick next year.

How’s that anit-trust exemption looking now?

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A couple of interesting “leaks” have occurred this week, and enterprising investigative baseball reporters like Yahoo’s Jeff Passan and Baseball Prospectus’ Joe Sheehan (though writing for Sports Illustrated online here) have summarized a couple of startling baseball economics issues that might have some serious impact on the baseball landscape, the upcoming Union negotiations, and owner relationships in general.

First, the Passan article.  In essence, he criticizes the Marlins (and by proxy the Nationals for doing mostly the same thing) for browbeating the town of Miami into mostly funding their baseball stadium.  His criticism lies with the essense of the Sheehan article, namely that the Marlins claimed to be losing money while actually earning a TON of money and thus not spending as much as they “could” have to help with the ballpark financing.  The Marlins arguments are not helped by reports such as this one, or the release of Forbes baseball team valuations, or the fact that MLB and the players union basically told the team they had to spend more money in the spring of 2010.

The Sheehan article points out a fundamental flaw in baseball’s revenue sharing system; specifically that teams who want to make money can keep payroll low, be non contenders and take in millions in revenue sharing.  He singles out the Pirates, who made a large showing of deliberately trading away all its vets in the last two years, trading away near-arbitration eligible players and flat out releasing Matt Capps last year to save $500k in anticipated arbitration salary increases.  And it is hard not to argue with him.

What should be done?  First and foremost, you have to think that some owners are going to have something to say to their fellow owners.  Why should the Yankees be writing checks to Pittsburgh that are going straight into their owner’s pocket?  I agree 100% that revenue sharing money should be spent on the team.  No ifs ands or buts.  I can see this argument spilling over into an NFL-esque revenue sharing issue (where the wealthy teams like Washington, Dallas and New England are tired of evenly splitting revenues with other teams that don’t market as aggresively).

Relocation doesn’t seem to be an option.  A recent article in the St. Petersburg Times discussing the Rays possibilities of moving highlighted the issue: When the Expos moved to Washington, the last remaining obvious baseball market candidate was filled.  The next largest  major market without a major league baseball team is Portland, which is far smaller in terms of households and population than Tampa, Pittsburgh, and other so called “small markets.”  Frankly it would make more sense for a relocating team to move to Brooklyn, Riverside or even back to Montreal than it would to move to a place like Charlotte, Las Vegas, Portland or San Antonio.  Even Sacramento is a better option (and no one ever talks about moving a team there, not with the issues the Oakland A’s are having).

Honestly there is no good answer, just as there is no good answer on a salary cap/floor.  Get better owners (oh wait, the good ole boys club of Bud Selig prevents that too, resulting in shadier back room deals every time a team is sold.  See the Loria transaction in acquiring the Marlins in the first place).

*sigh*.

Written by Todd Boss

August 25th, 2010 at 1:15 pm