November 27th, 2009


Memo to the Commissioner: You're doing it wrong.

I've been thinking about this for a while, especially in light of all the drama this summer over whether the Nationals would be able to sign stud prospect Steven Strasburg. A lot of the drama revolved around whether Strasburg's agent Scott Boras, the avaricious thug who makes Darsh* look kind and generous by comparison, would allow him to sign with the Nationals or whether he would use Strasburg in his ongoing attempt to destroy the free agent draft and have all prospects sold at auction to the highest bidders. That would be great for Boras and his ilk (to say nothing of his clients), but disastrous to the cause of preserving some remnants of competitive balance in major league baseball.

Recently, Baseball Commissioner Bud (Light) Selig has been talking about bringing foreign players into the draft in order to keep the rich teams from skimming off all the hot prospects from the Dominican and other Caribbean hotbads of baseball, to say nothing of signing veteran players from Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. This, to quote Megan McArdle, is nonsense on stilts. As it is, players can (and have) evaded the constraints of the draft by signing with independent minor league teams such as the St. Paul Saints, and there is every reason to expect that this will only increase if Selig gets his way and is allowed to lock down foreign players in the same way college and high-school players are locked into the current draft system. After all, the major problem with the draft, which is the insane amount of money paid for signing bonuses, won't be eliminated by the international draft. Most of those players don't get the huge. multi-million dollar bonuses anyway; those go to first-round picks like Strasburg.

No, if you want to fix the system, you need to take those bonuses out of the system. The only realistic way to do that is to get the major league teams out of the business of developing talent, and turn the minor leagues loose. Short-season A-league teams and Rookie League teams can't afford to pay million-dollar bonuses to hot prospects; all they can offer is the eventual chance at playing in the major leagues. If we make those leagues the sole entry point into professional baseball for high school and college players, the bonus money vanishes, to be replaced by a share of the money when the SS-A/Rookie teams sell the player's contract up the line to a full-season Class A team, A to AA, AA to AAA, and finally from triple-A to the major leagues. The teams in the Gulf Coast and Arizona Leagues will probably disappear or be kept as taxi squads for the major-league teams, who would be required to release players from those teams at the end of the season as free agents if they didn't keep them on the 40-man roster.

Where the independent leagues would fit into this talent pipeline is a good question. MLB perhaps might restrict itself to dealing only with the AA/AAA leagues (Northern, All-American, Can-Am and Atlantic) or not deal with them at all, leaving the independents in the business of giving undrafted and cast-off players a second look, off to the side of what would no longer be farm teams run from and by the major league teams. There might be some other way to get the stupidly huge signing bonuses out of the game, but aside from just issuing an edict from the Commissioner's office, how else would such a plan work?

*See Jack Vance's The Demon Princes, Volume 2 and read the first volume, too, while you're at it. You'll thank me later.
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    Aaron Static - Power Hour (20 Jul 2007)
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Quite the Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. The pot roast, done with garlic, red wine, red potatoes, Vidalia onions, carrots, and garlic, turned out better than either P or I had expected. The mashed potatoes were good; perhaps not as smooth and extruded-looking as some folks' might be, but it was extremely rich and had sizable quantities of garlic. The brie with macadamia nuts in puff pastry didn't turn out quite as well, but that's okay since there was plenty of cheese and garlic bread to nibble on; cornbread stuffing with hot Italian sausage and hazelnuts also fell short of optimum -it was a bit too dry and probably could have used a few hours inside a turkey, but that wasn't an option. Dessert was apple tart done with Macintosh apples, which we almost didn't get into since we were so stuffed from everything else. Neither of us even wanted to think about pie.

Was going to go out and mail stuff to customers, but the coupon I have from Staples is no good until tomorrow, so I think I'll just pass on Black Friday. In my straitened circumstances, I shouldn't be hanging out in stores anyway; I'd just be impeding the efforts of the Retail Support Brigade.
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    Sarah Chang - Violin Concerto In E Minor, Op. 64_ Third Movement
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the mark

Black Friday Linkagery (with extra bonus capitalism!)

Secular America, it appears that the Church has had enough of your shenanigans. (The Western Confucian via The Marmot's Hole)

One photographer's battle against anorexia in the modeling field.(Probably NSFW) (Ibid.)

Need to pick up the season's hottest political tomes? Look not further than The Other McCain! As a further inducement, the taste Amazon gives Stacy off these sales goes to support independent news reporting of the sort not often done by the lamestream media, and keeps Mrs. McCain happy. Honestly, who could deny a woman like that the pleasure of a jingly tip jar?
"But I already have a glut of books/hate politics/want to get something for my SO!" you say? Well, that's already been covered, with some helpful tips on maintaining a happy marriage supplied along with some tasteful art. (YMMV)

As for me, well, I don't have a wife and six kids, but I wouldn't mind a little traffic through my portal either. Take a look at my bookstore or take advantage of Amazon's Black Friday Deals.

Last but not least, The Dugout gives thanks for Joe Mauer.

Lost in the weeds

After reading several "standard texts" on sabermetrics over the last few weeks, I have a gut feeling that one of the reasons a lot of professional baseball people don't have a lot of time for sabermetricians is that they waste a lot of time mangling statistics in various inventive ways to answer stupid questions like "Was Honus Wagner a better baseball player than Cal Ripken?" "If Roger Maris played for the Yankees today, would he hit sixty home runs a year?" and "Was Dom DiMaggio really better than his famous brother Joe?" The answer to all of these questions, as far as I'm concerned, is NOBODY CARES. The kind of people who usually get into arguments like this are the kind of folks that don't care about Equivalent Averages, normalized OBP+SLG, and VORP, because those are all damned statistics, as in "Lies, damned lies and statistics." You can find those people in any sports bar or the comments sections of most popular sports blogs, arguing with the guys that insist that defensive stats prove that Adam Dunn is a horrible first baseman and not worth what he's being paid for knocking in 120 guys a year with his ~40 dingers. *facepalm*
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    Utena OST #1 - School Lyric
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