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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.