Thursday, February 25, 2010

MLB is broken, but what to do?

Thursday February 25, 2010

The System in baseball is broken.

Practically no one will deny that.

The Yankees have a payroll that is more than 6 times the lowest payrolls in the league.

A third of the teams in MLB are starting spring training with no hope of making the playoffs in 2010 (see Pirates, Royals, Reds, Padres, Orioles, Indians, Astros, Nationals, Athletics and Blue Jays) and most of them have not made it in years.

The Yankees have a media contract that pays them more than $250 million while the Padres earn only $11 million. That is nearly 25 times as much.

MLB has tried to solve that with luxury taxes and revenue sharing. But without a payroll floor, many of the big revenue teams are screaming about teams like the Marlins and Pirates spending less than they receive from revenue sharing on payroll, not to mention their own ticket sales and media revenue.

Low to mid level revenue teams come into each season knowing they have only a snow balls shot in Phoenix in August of competing. If they do compete at all its only as a one year wonder like the Rays in 2008.

So what would I do if I had the "Good of the Game" clause at my disposal as MLB commissioner?

  1. All media contracts shared equally amongst all the teams.
    If you play the Yankees and they broadcast the game then you should get half of their revenue for that game. They can't have the game without you and they have to pay you a percentage of the gate already, so they should have to pay you an equal share of the media revenue.
  2. Payroll Minimums.
    If teams are getting $50-70 million in revenue sharing plus sharing the revenue from media contracts in addition to ticket sales each season then they should be able to spend $75 or $80 million as a floor. Doesn't mean they can't spend much more if they want to, but they have to spend at least that much and the amount should go up each year as overall revenue rises.
  3. Impose a Salary Cap.
    Cap the payroll at a figure that would go up over time. Say $150-$160 million to start.  No team should have more than double the payroll of the smallest payroll teams.

  4. Include International Free Agents in the Amateur Draft.
    In recent years only the big revenue teams have been able to consistently dip into the Int'l Free Agent pool and sign enough of the 16-17 year old players to create a flow of good young prospects coming up in their system. How many teams can take a $3+ million chance on a 16 year old? Most teams can only take a huge chance on Int'l FA on occasion and hope they pan out.
  5. Allow teams to trade draft picks.
    If you can't afford a Strasburg type prospect and the Yankees or Red Sox can, then let the Yankees or Red Sox trade you for his rights. Maybe your team trades the rights to the number 1 overall pick for two top prospects and a draft pick later in round one. At least you get something other than another #1 overall pick for next season that you may not be able to afford then either.
  6. Salary Cap by round in draft
    I am against slotting systems for draft picks. but I do like a cap by round. In other words, 1st round picks can sign for up to $6 million signing bonus. 2nd round $1 million. 3rd round $500k. etc...
    Lets keep the costs reasonable for kids that only make it to the major leagues 17%(??) of the time even if they are a 1st round pick. This is not the NFL where a draft pick can play at the top level the same year. Draft picks, no matter how good they are, almost never play in the Major leagues the same season or even the next year after being drafted.
In my not so humble opinion, that would even the playing field enough that every team would have at least a chance to compete every year.

Some still would not compete, whether by mismanagement or lack of skill in the FO, but they would have had the opportunity to compete unhindered by a broken system.

So there are my thoughts. There is a lot more to be said, but I am going to leave that up to you.

Tell where I am wrong. Tell me what won't you don't think will work. Tell me what you think I got spot on.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Padres not done with FA signings?

Wednesday February 17, 2010

In an interview with Bill Center of the San Diego Union Tribune today, Padres CEO Jeff Moorad said in answer to a question about the 2010 major league payroll, "We’ll head to spring training at about $41.5 million".

Since the Padres MLB payroll sits at $38.025 million as of today, reading Center's interview gave me hope that the Padres are not done with free agent signings.

Then I sat down for my evening reading of and saw this:
Padres, Cardinals and Others interested in Felipe Lopez

Could it be possible that the Padres were really still looking to fill out the bench with a player like Felipe Lopez?

Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of wrote in an article this evening that their sources  were saying 4 teams were in pursuit of Lopez and they included the Padres and Cardinals.

If GM John Mozeliak pulls the trigger on the signing it would be a return to St. Louis for Lopez as he played for the Cardinals in 2008. For the Cardinals Lopez would likely just be insurance in case shortstop Brendan Ryan does not recover well from his recent wrist surgery.

For the Padres Lopez would provide depth in the middle infield behind starters Everth Cabrera and David Eckstein. Prior to 2009, Cabrera had only a handful of at bats above the Low A level so the Padres cannot be sure how he will respond in 2010 and David Eckstein, while an great hitter in the clutch and an invaluable influence in the clubhouse and on the field, is 35 years old and on the downside of his career.

With Jerry Hairston Jr. already on board as a utility player, signing Lopez would give the Padres great depth and versatility on the bench.

The other teams rumored to have interest in Lopez include the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros. Cleveland has two promising young players penciled in at 2B in Luis Valbuena and Jason Donald, and has been been shedding payroll not adding it. They may not have the money in their budget to sign Lopez even at the discounted rate he will likely be forced to take this late in the off season.

Houston has Kaz Matsui and his $5 million salary at 2B. It is doubtful that they are in the market to add payroll at that position.

So what do you think about the Padres chances to sign Lopez?  If the Padres DO sign Lopez, would you rather see him start or backup the middle infield?

Monday, February 15, 2010

BBA taking to the Airwaves!

Monday February 15, 2010

The writers of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance would like to announce that they are taking to the airwaves.

Beginning Tuesday, February 16th at 11 pm Eastern, BBA Baseball Talk can be found at Blog Talk Radio.  This one-hour show will discuss the big stories of the day in major league baseball and other baseball-related topics.  Callers are welcome to chime in at 347-884-8690.

Your hosts for the first edition will be BBA founder Daniel Shoptaw, who writes at C70 At The Bat, and Ron Kaplan of Ron Kaplan's Baseball Bookshelf.

Hosts will rotate on a weekly basis and the time and date of the show may move depending on the requirements of that week's hosts.

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance is a confederation of 132 blogs working together for collaboration and discussion possibilities.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Padres Payroll and IIATMS

Yesterday Jason over at It’s About The Money, Stupid (IIATMS) brought up some issues in his blog post “Maybe it's time to worry about the Padres” that I wanted to address in more detail than is proper for a comment section.

Let me begin by saying that if you don't read Jasons blog on a daily basis you are mising out on some great commentary on baseball.

I really don't share any of the concerns expressed in his post about the Padres payroll or viability any more than I do for any small market club. The system in baseball as a whole needs to be changed in order for these small market teams to consistently compete.

That is a topic that is worthy of an entire series of blog posts so I am not going to try to cover it in any length here today.

The problem does not lie solely with the Padres.  No small market team today can afford to keep players of Adrian Gonzalez's caliber, players that will earn $20+ million in free agency, and continue to compete with one player taking up such a large of a  percentage of their total payroll.

Why do I say that? Well according to an article by Peter Gammons (and from some lite research of my own), I have found that no team since the advent of Free Agency has won a World Series with one player making more than 16% of total payroll and no team has made it to the World Series (or even the NLCS) with one player making more than 20% of the total payroll.

At a $70-80 million payroll that Moorad and company have told us  they want the Padres payroll to be at in coming seasons, history  tells us that the most the Padres can pay a single player and continue to compete would be under $16 million per season.

Do YOU think Adrian Gonzalez should or would take a contract of  $12-16 million per season to stay in San Diego instead of a  Teixeira-like deal elsewhere? (8 years/$180 million or $21.5 million per season)

As far as the Padres current $38.025 million ML payroll goes there are a couple of points to be made.

The Padres current payroll is more result of conditions that were  court mandated because of the Moores divorce than of market woes or size.

There is ample evidence that the team, the fan base and the market can support a larger payroll as the Padres had a $73+ million  payroll in 2008 and a $69 million payroll in 2006. In fact, before the Moores filed for divorce, every season since the opening of Petco Park the payroll has been higher than it was in any season prior to the park’s opening in 2004.

The Moores divorce has locked the payroll at a size that would preclude any losses that the Moorad group has not volunteered to cover.

In 2008 the Padres organization lost $15 million with a $73 million payroll. The Padres partners (John and Becky Moores and their daughter) had to take money out of their poclets to balance the team budget going into the next season. That is the way a general partnership works. You either borrow money to balance the books or the partner pony it up. This we know from records made public in the divorce.

Until such time as Moorad and his group take majority ownership (2012 season?) and  the Moores divorce is finalized (who knows when) the Padres are in a bind.

They cannot put forth a payroll that would create a cash call for  the partners. In other words they cannot raise the payroll much  above where it is now and are working with their hands tied behind  their backs this season and until Moores divorce is final.

This team will see payroll rise in the coming years and I believe Moorad when he says that he and his investment group are looking to have the Padres major league payroll in the $70-80 million range.

With revenue in the $150-170 million range that is a reasonable amount for the Padres or any team to spend on the players on the field.

What it will not do is allow the Padres to keep a player like Adrian Gonzalez or any other player that rises to his level of performance and worth in the future.

The system is broken. Only about 1/3 of the teams in baseball can afford a player like Gonzalez. Realistically probably only a handful can take on a salary that size and the economy and another headline divorce may have shrunken that number to just 2.

So its not about the Padres ability to raise payroll under normal circumstances or about the Padres market or fanbase to support the team. Its not about a tradition. If you have ever been to a playoff game in San Diego you KNOW we have some rabid and loyal fans here.

Right now its about a divorce. 

Okay I've gotta say it:

It's about the money, stupid!

(There were a few obvious errors in Jason's article. Geoff at Ducksnorts already pointed that Garland was not a Padre in 2009. The Padres payroll was $43,333,700 at the start of the 2009 season and $43,210,258 at the end of the season according to Biz of Baseball and $43,734,200 according to Cots MLB Contracts.)

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Brian Giles signs with Dodgers

Sunday February 7, 2010

According to a Twitter post by Ken Gurnick of, former Padre Brian Giles reportedly signed a minor league deal with the NL West rival Los Angeles Dodgers with an invitation to spring training.

Giles is a career .291 hitter with a .400 OBP, .502 SLG , .902 OPS. His career 136 OPS+ is 15th among active players, but he is coming off an injury filled year in 2009 that saw him hit 100 points lower than his career average and start only 58 games.

Giles would likely fill a 4th outfielder and LH bat off the bench role for the Dodgers,

Padres offer Takahashi a minor league deal

Sunday February 7, 2010

The San Diego Padres have reportedly offered Yomiuri Giants lefty Hisanori Takahashi a minor league deal. 

The Padres were one of 4 teams to offer him a contract including the Dodgers, Giants and Red Sox according to a report by Sports Hochi that was passed along on Twitter by NPB Tracker.

Jon Heyman tweeted today that the Mets and Pirates were also interested in the 35 year old screwball specialist.

Takahashi started 24 games and threw 144 innings for the Nippon League Giants in 2009 while recording a 2.94 ERA with 126 SO and only 36 BB.

It is not known whether the Padres are looking at Takahashi as a back of the rotation starter or a reliever.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Padres MLB lowest $38.025 million payroll

Saturday February 6, 2010

Padres Major League Payroll for the 2010 Season  - as of 2/5/10        

Player Name    Position  2010 Salary

Signed for 2010      
Chris Young    SP     $6,375,000.00
Adrian Gonzalez    1B     $4,825,000.00
David Eckstein    2B     $1,000,000.00
Kevin Correia    RHP/SP     $3,600,000.00
Heath Bell    RHP/RP     $4,000,000.00
Mike Adams    RHP/RP     $1,000,000.00
Scott Hairston    OF     $2,450,000.00
Jerry Hairston    Util     $2,125,000.00
Jon Garland    LHP     $4,700,000.00
Yorvit Torrealba C     $750,000.00

NOT Arbitration Eligible  
(MLB minimum salary is $400k - this chart assumes the Padres will pay an average of $450k for players that are not eligible for arbitration and can be signed by the team for any amount the team chooses.
The Padres average salary for this type player in 2009 was LESS than $450k.)    
Headley, Chase    OF/3B     $450,000.00
Hundley, Nick    C     $450,000.00
Venable, Will    OF     $450,000.00
Cabrera, Everth    SS     $450,000.00
Kyle Blanks    OF     $450,000.00
Oscar Salazar    UT     $450,000.00
Tony Gwynn Jr.    OF     $450,000.00
Aaron Cunningham OF     $450,000.00
Greg Burke    RHP     $450,000.00
Luke Gregerson    RHP     $450,000.00
Mujica, Edward    RHP     $450,000.00
Thatcher, Joe    LHP     $450,000.00
Aaron Poreda    LHP/RP     $450,000.00
Sean Gallagher    RHP/RP     $450,000.00
Luis Perdomo    RHP/RP     $450,000.00
Adam Russell    RHP/RP     $450,000.00
LeBlanc, Wade    LHP/SP     $450,000.00
Mat Latos    RHP/SP     $450,000.00
Tim Stauffer    RHP/SP     $450,000.00
Clayton Richard    LHP/SP     $450,000.00
Totals                                         $39,825,000.00

Yes I know there are way too many pitchers. 16 in all.
So subtract $450k for each one or $1.8 million       
That leaves:

Total 2010 Padres Major League Payroll - $38,025,000.00

For those of you who are wondering what the rest of the guys on the 40 man roster will make in the minors, the AAA minimum is $2150 per month. $12,900 for a 6 month season. 10 of them won't push the payroll over $38.5 million if they are all making 4 times the minimum.

So there you have it in black and white,

The 2010 San Diego Padres Major League Payroll  -  $38.025 million.

Now there will likely be callups from the minors as players hit the DL and those guys will have to be paid the minor league minimum while they are in a Padres uniform, but if there are 5 extra players on the roster every day for the entire season then the team is still only right at $40 million. And that's only if they pay every non arbitration eligible player $450k. They only have to pay them $400k so that is not likely to happen.

I don't think that is quite in the spirit of promising the payroll would start with a 4. Right now it doesn't.

I feel a little ripped off..

I believed Jeff Moorad and Jed Hoyer when they promised $40 million or more in payroll. To nickel and dime your way into a payroll that is still at least $5 million less than last seasons opening day payroll is questionable at best. An insult to fans at the worst.

I do think this team is as good as the one that took the field on opening day last season, but not by much and to have the lowest payroll in baseball after promising more is embarrassing and not a good start to the fans relationship with Moorad, Hoyer and company.

The worst part is we know that Adrian Gonzalez, the best player on the squad, is going away mid season and he may be joined by Heath Bell, Jon Garland and others pushing the payroll down even further.

The Padres need to step it up! They need to have more than the MLB lowest $38.025 million payroll.

Thats my opinion. Now what do you think?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Scotty Hairston Avoids Arbitration

Tuesday February 2, 2010

The San Diego Padres avoided arbitration hearing when they signed Scott Hairston to a $2.45 million, one year deal today.

Scotty and the Padres had swapped figures of $2.9 million and $2.1 million and settled just under the halfway point.

The Padres have now settled with all four of their arbitration eligible players.