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Monday, June 08, 2009
“Abolish the draft”Pinto tears FOX's Michael Rosenberg a new one over the latter's half-assed draft column, and then invokes the nuclear option:
Abolish the draft, and let these amateurs sign for what the market will bear. Then we can stop having these idiotic discussions about what’s wrong with the draft. The draft is just wrong, period.
I haven't thought through all of the implications of such a thing in this day and age (given all of the changes to the baseball labor market, the example of the pre-draft system is probably of little utility), but as I sit here right now, I can't see how it would create any more problems than any of the draft "solutions" people have suggested. Sure it's radical, but only in immediate effect, not long term implications. At least I don't think so, anyway.
David is throwing it out there for us. Let's run with it. And please, try to think harder than "the Yankees would just buy all of the good players." That doesn't happen now with international signings, and they haven't raised a big Tigers-with-Porcello ruckus in the amateur draft.
Educate me, people: what would be the pros and cons of just chucking this system and going all free-agent?
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 4:04pm
Wooden U. Lykteneau said...
Making ALL players subject to the draft would be a rather simple first step. A structured slot/bonus for the first two rounds would be a harder second step. The former would prevent the Japanese stars from being bought, the latter would kill the “signability” issue. Will either happen? Hell, no.
Posted 06/08 at 06:47 PM
Aaron Moreno is the only one that said it so far. There is already a large difference between the so-called ‘large-market’ / ‘small-market’ teams in signing free agents.
I don’t know if it’s true or not, except as it effects the Royals. Then it’s true.
But if some teams can’t afford to sign premium “proven” players, how can they afford to sign “amateur” players at free agent type contracts?
No franchise should have to mortgage it’s future for an unproven high school/college player. And there’s plenty of evidence that it’s all a crap shoot regardless.
And as far as the argument that ‘no other profession does it’, sports don’t fit into that. No one has to play sports. People have to have jobs. Being an athlete is a talent, like singing, dancing, painting, woodworking. It’s not a taught skill.
Ballarinas and musicians don’t compete in a normal job market, and neither do athlets. If they don’t like the rules, they can dig ditches or shovel pig s$*t on a farm for minimum wage.
Posted 06/08 at 06:47 PM
@Ron - Baseball is absolutely a taught skill. Do you really think that baseball players are just born with the ability to hit or throw a curveball? Is it just coincidence that the vast majority of major league players are American?
Are some people blessed with a level of talent that few have? Sure. But let’s not discount the years of training that go into being a professional athlete.
Posted 06/08 at 07:05 PM
there’s no real justification to have a draft, and there’s certainly no way of justifying the fact that foreign born players can begin professional careers at 16, and native american players are forbidden from doing so.
it’s unlikely that all the best players will sign with the yankees or dodgers or other high dollar teams. after all, the farm systems are a lot smaller than they used to be. at this point in time, there are only so many slots in a farm system. no one’s got multiple, power house AAA teams like the yanks used to, or the cards used to, or the dodgers used to.
at one point in time teams like the old senators or the old browns or the old phillies were just so damn dysfunctional that there really truly wasn’t much hope for them to ever be able to turn themselves around…they didn’t have the cash flow, they didn’t have the scouts, they didn’t have much if anything in the way of a farm system…
there’s not a single team, now, who is as bereft in any of those areas as the old time downtrodden teams. and of course, there’s revenue sharing now that wasn’t available then.
Rob’ says that the idea that the owners are the only benificiaries of the draft is a lie. okay…where’s your thinking on that?
i mean…rob’...the draft was set up by the owners to benefit themselves, not the players. right?
why would you think that’s not true any longer?
Posted 06/08 at 07:34 PM
Rob - to be fair, I’ve read some of your previous comments, and I like the things you have said. So I’m not picking on you.
But my commment was “Being an athlete is a talent, like singing, dancing, painting, woodworking. It’s not a taught skill”, and I stand by that. I didn’t say baseball specifically.
Yes, you have to be taught to throw a curveball and swing a bat. I’ve been taught how to do both. I just played baseball (semi-pro) 3 weeks ago, and I still can’t do it, no matter who much I’ve been taught.
Being an athlete is not a taught skill. You are or you aren’t. Being a painter is not a taught skill. You can learn things to improve your abilities, but if it could be taught, we could teach monkey’s to do it.
Which would probably be easier than teaching me.
No one has to play baseball. So the draft is perfectly acceptable to keep the competitive balance.
Joe Jackson always said he would have played for meal money. Too many of these guys are doing it as a paycheck, and not because they want to play the game.
I might be an idiot, but if they can work the angles, why can’t the ball clubs?
Posted 06/08 at 07:37 PM
Rob, I wasn’t implying that you called me an idiot. I just know there are a lot of people out there smarter than I am.
Posted 06/08 at 07:42 PM
>>it’s unlikely that all the best players will sign with the yankees or dodgers or other high dollar teams. after all, the farm systems are a lot smaller than they used to be. at this point in time, there are only so many slots in a farm system. no one’s got multiple, power house AAA teams like the yanks used to, or the cards used to, or the dodgers used to.
There’s nothing preventing a team from restarting multiple AAA teams, or rather the rule preventing it will change allowing teams to do it if the teams lobby for it. Baseball teams *will* adapt and will make the new situation work for them.
Also, one thing the draft does is also forces draftees who normally wouldn’t have gotten higher bonuses to receive due to teams looking for ‘signiablity’ picks, such as Matt Bush, Joe Mauer, and Daniel Moskous. Each player received more bonus money that they would have if they signed as a free agent, partly due to the higher desirability of other draftees in their class. The draft worked to make them more money for them, not not less.
Posted 06/08 at 07:46 PM
If we eliminate the draft we should also eliminate the salary structure (3 years at the club’s mercy, 3 years of arbitration).
As Charlie Finley said in 1976, make ‘em all free agents. No contracts guaranteed beyond one year. With no artificial market shortages, the player compensation would find its own level in a free market.
Posted 06/08 at 07:46 PM
Posted 06/08 at 07:54 PM
Sara K said...
Economics (not to mention MLB draft rules) are so very not my strong suit, so I am prepared to be told that I have this totally wrong…
1. Does it really matter if a handful of rich teams dominate the top-ranked picks? I was under the impression that few of the “top” guys actually end up panning out, at least in comparison to the amount they’d be getting paid to fall short of expectations. What round did Pujols go?
2. If rich teams go nuts on potentially worthless picks, doesn’t that (at least partially) dent what they can afford spend on veterans? Yankees aside, there is only so much money, right?
3. Wouldn’t it be better to let teams trade picks? Wouldn’t that give the have-nots a chance to get some talent in exchange for their unsignables?
More questions than opinions, I know…
Posted 06/08 at 08:06 PM
Josh Fisher said...
I still say there’s no way its feasible logistically…have thousands of prospective players amateurs one minute and free agents the next. It would be impossible.
Posted 06/08 at 08:15 PM
Greg Simons said...
@Rob^2 - “the idea that the draft does nothing but limit the income of amateur players at the benefit of the owners is a lie.” This comment was in a response to me, but I never said it, so I’ll assume it was a general statement. And I never said owner are the only benficiaries of the draft.
Regarding the statement that other fields are restrictive in their employment, sure, but not to a single company, and not where they can control the conditions of your employment for a decade.
@Ron - “If they don’t like the rules, they can dig ditches or shovel pig s$*t on a farm for minimum wage.” So those should be their two choices, take what you’re giving or perform the worst job there is?
“Too many of these guys are doing it as a paycheck, and not because they want to play the game.” So many people gave Jeff Kent grief because he didn’t really like baseball, and at first I was one of them. Then I realized I don’t *love* what I do. I do my job partially for the paycheck. Being good at something and making a living at it doesn’t mean you have to love your job, even if it’s one most people would give anything to have.
It’s that last bit that I think really gets to the heart of all this. We all played baseball as kids, and maybe longer, and we all love the game. We say we’d play it for free, so why do the players complain so much when they get big bucks to play a kids’ game?
I think this all boils down to jealously, to a large extent, and I’m just as guilty of that as anyone. They’re doing what we can’t, some of them don’t love doing it, some “leave us” as free agents to find other hometowns, so hold out as amateurs to squeeze a couple hundred grand from the team that drafted them. We’re offended by this behavior in regard to our beloved game, though we’d be quite likely to act in the same way if we were in their shoes - even though we’ll swear here and now that we wouldn’t.
Baseball is a glorious, beautiful game filled with many happy memories from throughout our lives, and we want to romanticize everything about it. Therefore, anything that takes away from those wonderful emotions elicits a strong negative reaction. We can’t separate our emotional attachment from the fact that at the MLB level it’s very big business, whether we like it or not.
Posted 06/08 at 09:34 PM
jeff weissbuch said...
This has to be the stupid thing I have heard in a long time.Mr.Rosenberg must either be a big market fan ( Yanks no don’t)or he just doesn’t get it.The draft is totally fair.We need to have more competive balance not less.The Yankees and others have more than there share of advantages,we can’t give them this one too.If you want this we will just pair baseball down to 6 or 8 teams so Mr.Rosenberg’s yankee’s can win it all with out having to work so hard.
Posted 06/08 at 09:43 PM
Here is one interesting way to get rid of the draft. Poll the teams such that the top 100 hundred players are ranked. Have all of the teams submit closed bids for every player in the top 100, who ever submits the highest offer wins. If one team would like to drop their entire budget on the top prospect so be it, but then they won’t have any other draft picks. It would bring in some interesting game theory.
Continue with the draft as normal with the “lesser” picks.
Posted 06/08 at 11:02 PM
while those examples may prove your point, i’d submit to you that other folks drafted lower might find better paychecks and bonuses being paid, if they were able to have more than one team to negotiate with. an actual market place for their talents…
i’d rather have a hard limit on the number of minor league affiliates a major league team could enter into an agreement with than for MLB to continue on with this draft nonsense.
again, the idea of having a draft is centralized control and cost containment, which is in management’s interest, not really the individual player’s, overall.
i don’t see how this is an arguable point, even. management certainly isn’t in the business of promoting the financial welfare of the players as a group or as individuals (in the abstract) at their own expense.
if bud were to actually push thru a hard slotting scheme..this would just prove the point. the draft and slotting and salary caps and all these things are for cost containment and cost the player’s money.
which is funny, since baseball players as a whole take a smaller percentage of the industry’s gross than any of the other major sports leagues. and that’s never enough, apparently..
Posted 06/09 at 12:13 AM
er…‘and that’s never enought, apparently’ *for the owners*...the same folks who cried poor for thirty years, threatened contraction…and by god want to lower their overhead and rake in more money.
Posted 06/09 at 12:28 AM
Thomas J. Comer said...
One thing that would have to change w/o a draft is that the modern scouts would have to become what scouts used to be: salesmen. They have always had to project and evaluate talent, but with the advent of the draft thay have not had to cultivate a kid’s family and sell the franchise to the prospect. It would be an adjustment.
Posted 06/09 at 12:33 AM
I don’t think it’s fair to take “the Yankees will buy all the good players” off the table as a “con.” If the list of “all the good players” that the Yankees can “buy” expands to included North American players between the ages of 18 and 22, the analysis changes. I understand it’s not the sexiest argument that can appear in a comment thread, but I’d hate to avoid the simple answer. That’s a fundamental change in facts.
(1) The argument about parity being good in and of itself isn’t necessarily foreclosed for all times just because it’s settled in the eyes of the lords of the realm, but it’s settled, in all four major sports, and has even been, at least as reflected by how the draft is set up.
(2) Baseball’s current economic system at least skews toward favoring franchises that live in more populous metropolitan areas. All other things being equal, the Milwaukees of the world are not in as good a bargaining position as, to pick an example completely at random, the Yankees—simply by virtue of Milwaukee being smaller.
If Law and Pinto can live with there being a perpetual underclass of baseball teams, so that their economic ideological bias can be satisfied in all realms of the world including entertainment, I guess that’s their business. I think baseball is more interesting when the Rays can draft well and see that come to fruition, knowing that without a salary cap, they’ll never be able to get there by having a winter where they go out and purchase Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett.
Posted 06/09 at 12:38 AM
>>er…‘and that’s never enought, apparently’ *for the owners*...the same folks who cried poor for thirty years, threatened contraction…and by god want to lower their overhead and rake in more money.<<
So the answer would be to raise the investment and expense of signing amateur talent on the whole, and give clubs an easier excuse to claim poverty?
Posted 06/09 at 12:51 AM
I’m not sure the international signings are the same situation as American signings. Latin America has the disadvantage of unknown ages and fewer organized leagues with comparable talent levels (though that one is lessening). East Asia is even bleaker on being able to compare talent. You can’t get young players from Japan, the one place that it’s easier to compare to. The Yankees, and other teams, don’t necessarily sign foreign players possibly because it’s much harder to judge them. Sure, they can go ahead and sign a bunch of them anyway, but they may think it’s wiser to stick to the States. They know how to compare them. The scouting is a bit more formalized. Ages are always correct. They don’t always pan out, but at least, they know what they’re getting.
And though not all top prospects work out, most first round picks end up doing something at the major-league level. If the Yankees sign the top 5 players, it puts them in a pretty good position.
And just for trivia, but I’m not sure it means anything:
6 of Yankees’ 26 World Series have come after the draft was instituted 44 years ago. They thoroughly dominated from 1930 to early 60’s.
3 of 10 Cardinals’ World Series titles came after the draft started.
Again, it could just be that there are more teams, but something seems odd about that.
Posted 06/09 at 01:04 AM